10 Pieces of Teaching Wisdom To Reflect On This Summer

Summer break is nearly here — and we know that for most educators, that doesn’t mean a decrease in workload, but simply a restructuring of the day’s work. The pace and environment of summer does offer some time for reflection. It’s a time to start fresh, remember your experiences in the last school year, and set goals for the new school year. To add to your time spent reading, listening, and connecting with other educators this summer, we’ve gathered some of our favorite pieces of wisdom from educators in the Art of Teaching Project. See below for ten bite-sized quotes from teachers, and click on the blog corresponding to each quote for more from that educator:

It starts with your MESSAGE. More than anything, what do you want your students to leave your classroom really knowing. Not just content, but really knowing about school, themselves…life. What do you talk about the most with your students? THAT is what they will remember. What do you do the most? THAT is also what they will remember.

— Dean Deaver, 5th Grade Teacher

When I became a principal, my goal was not to simply to create an academic institution that focused on exams, but a holistic learning environment where children could thrive from a safe space that honored their voices. My goal was to empower the next generation of students to become advocates and explorers of the truth.

— Nadia Lopez, Principal

I don’t believe in any one idea that will transform teaching for teachers or learning for learners. Instead, I believe in the incremental elevation of the teaching profession as new ideas are spread and enrich more and more classrooms.

— Dylan Kane, Math Teacher

So many extraneous factors go into the demise of the person, not just the student, that teachers often lose track of the fact that we are simply trying to guide them to become their best selves.

— Chris Margolin, ELA Curriculum Specialist

One thing that I think summer is great for in terms of professional learning is investing the time to better understand how you can use social media as an educator.

— Kyle Pace, Director of Technology

Being a leader when you are not an administrator is tough. Stepping out of your box is tough. Getting people to accept change is tough. Doing all the extra tasks that have nothing to do with actual teaching is tough. Sometimes I want to just back up. Maybe you do, too. Maybe you have just backed up and given up when those tough times have loomed ahead. Ultimately, though, the tough times have to be faced. The difficult tasks have to be completed, and you have to step out of your box from time to time. So, don’t back up. You just make the journey longer when you have to start that way again. Teacher leaders must move forward.

— Cassie Brooks, Elementary School Teacher

Knowing the content is a critical component of effective teaching, but so is knowing how to teach. I have found that my struggles in language learning provide the foundation for my success stories. Reflecting on my weaknesses and confronting my insecurities has helped me improve my teaching.

— Stacey Carter-Lane, World Language Teacher

Contrary to what many people believe, our students are looking for guidance and we have to be clear in how we lay out our expectations for this to happen. If we aren’t clear about what we expect of them and how we expect them to do it, then they’ll just make up their own rules along the way, and while that can lead to some fun for a bit, it’s a difficult thing to rein in once it’s gone too far. On the other hand, it’s always easier to loosen things up as they go along.

— Jeremy Lenzi, English Teacher

For more wisdom from seasoned educators, see: