Rain early…then remaining cloudy with showers in the afternoon. High near 55F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 70%..
A few clouds. Low 38F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph.
Updated: October 17, 2022 @ 12:56 am
Well, Happy New SCHOOL Year anyway. Yep, it’s right around the corner.
As a retired educator who spent 33 years teaching high school English, I get a little nostalgic this time of the summer when the nights are cooler, the days are shorter, and back-to-school ads fill the mailbox.
When school opens in a couple of weeks, it will mark 10 full years of retirement for me, which means I have officially reached the age where I can offer advice. No, I’m not starting a consulting firm, nor am I bucking to be one of those high-priced motivational speakers that schools bring in on conference days. It’s likely that no one will listen anyway, especially if I begin sentences with “Back when I was teaching …”
But in the past 10 years I’ve had time to reflect on my career and observe the current state of education. So, I figured I’d give some back-to-school advice, mostly to teachers, but even if you’re not in the education field, you all attended school at one time or another, so read on anyway. There may be some tidbit below that reminds you of one of your teachers or a long-forgotten school experience.
So, in no special order, 10 pearls of wisdom as a new academic year begins:
• Teachers, please don’t pontificate, just communicate. We could probably all name a teacher or two who tried to impress kids with big words. It doesn’t work. The best advice I can give those types is an old saying a mentor once shared with me: “The students won’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
• Understand the difference between a job and a career. Flipping burgers at McDonald’s is a job. Teaching is a career. You can’t punch a time clock five minutes before class begins then play “beat the buses” out of the parking lot at the end of the school day. If you know a teacher like that, tell them McDonald’s is currently hiring at $15 an hour.
• Along those lines, one of my former colleagues at Oswego High, Chris King, once shared this quote: “There are three noble professions: physicians who take care of the body; clergy, who take care of the soul; and teachers, who take care of the mind.” That should be on a poster in every faculty room in America. It says it all.
• Education is not a one-way street. The Jewish Talmud states something that I found to be true almost daily in my classroom experiences: “Much have I learned from my teachers; more from my colleagues; but most from my students.”
• If the teacher appears to be bored, the students will be bored too. There are teachers who teach 33 years; then there are teachers who teach one year—33 times. Be as creative, innovative, excited, and yes, a little nervous, in year 33 as you were in that first year. Don’t just pull tired old lesson plans from filing cabinets or your hard drive.
• There’s a difference between the preposition “with” and the preposition “for.” A school staff is made up of much more than just teachers. Cafeteria workers, custodians, secretaries, administrators, and teaching assistants all contribute to the fabric of a school community. None of the support staffers work FOR teachers; they work WITH them.
• One of my college professors, Dr. George Nikas, had a way of humbling his graduate students. No matter how impressive a grad student’s lesson or presentation might’ve been, with all the bells-and-whistles of that era, he’d always say that “a TRUE EDUCATOR could teach using a Sears catalog in an outhouse.” (I shudder to think what Dr. Nikas might say about the reliance on today’s technology like Smart Boards, Power Point presentations, and YouTube!)
• No matter what college you attended or how many advanced degrees you have, your teacher training doesn’t prepare teachers for everything. How teachers handle a local crisis like a death of a student or a national tragedy like 9/11 will leave a longer-lasting impact on the students than any lessons on irregular verbs or the Pythagorean Theorum.
• Many of us can’t recall who won the 2020 Super Bowl; or name last year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner; or list five United States vice presidents, but I bet we can all name most of our elementary, middle, and high school teachers. What does that say about the impact a teacher has on a child’s life?
• Oswego teachers, please clear your calendars from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, June 24, 2023. That’s graduation day. One of the most rewarding experiences in my 33 years of teaching was participating in the annual faculty honor guard at commencement. Seeing the sense of pride and accomplishment on the faces of the graduating seniors brings tears to the eyes of even the most veteran educators. Whether you hug a teacher’s pet, or shake hands with the kid you gave detention to, there’s something emotional about seeing them all cross the finish line with a lifetime of possibilities ahead. I once had a colleague tell me that he’d participate in graduation if he received financial compensation. I told him he had chosen the wrong profession.
• Bonus advice. OK, I know I said 10 “pearls of wisdom,” but I was an English teacher, not math, so here’s an 11th. Countdowns are for rocket launches. Try not to count down the number of days left in the school year or even worse, the days left to retirement. I’ve actually known teachers who have done this, and it’s sad to see.
Wishing everyone who is heading back to school a very Happy New Year.
Mike McCrobie is a retired Oswego High School English/Journalism teacher and coach. His column appears here every-other Tuesday. His two books, “We’re from Oswego” and “Our Oswego,” are currently available at The River’s End Bookstore and at amazon.com.
His writing has also appeared nationally in Chicken Soup for the Soul Inspiration for Teachers, Chicken Soup for the Soul My Crazy Family, and Reminisce Magazine.
He can be reached at email@example.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sorry, there are no recent results for popular videos.
Sorry, there are no recent results for popular commented articles.
Sorry, an error occurred.
Would you like to receive our daily news? Signup today!
Thank you .
Your account has been registered, and you are now logged in.
Check your email for details.
Invalid password or account does not exist
Submitting this form below will send a message to your email with a link to change your password.
An email message containing instructions on how to reset your password has been sent to the e-mail address listed on your account.
Secure & Encrypted
Secure transaction. Cancel anytime.
Your purchase was successful, and you are now logged in.
A receipt was sent to your email.