Ignoring Dumb Advice

Dear First-Year Teacher,

In a few years you’ll be able to look back and say, “That was some of the dumbest advice I ever received.”

I don’t know what dumb advice you’ll get in your first couple of years in the classroom, but there’s plenty of it out there and some of it’s bound to come your way.

For example, one of the dumbest things anyone ever said to me in my first year of teaching was: “Man, you need to get a real job—this one’s too easy.”

I felt like punching that person!

Teaching is one of the hardest jobs in the world—and one of the most rewarding.

It’s hard because it seems as though there just aren’t enough hours in the day (or a lifetime) to adequately prepare for the next performance. (Make no mistake about it, every lesson you present to your students is a performance—and the teaching of the lesson is the only dress rehearsal you’ll ever get!)

It’s rewarding because there is absolutely nothing better than seeing the light start glowing on the face of a child who finally “gets” it.

Sure, teachers have several weeks off during the summer—but they don’t get paid for them. (I’ve seen my last paycheck until August.)

Besides, how many teachers are able to step completely out of “teacher mode” even on vacation? It’s June, and most of us are thinking of ways to improve our performance in the classroom next year. We know we can do better. We’re determined to do better.

Most of us are working, even though we aren’t being paid. Some of us are even taking classes to make sure that we don’t lose our edge. We don’t want to stumble into our classrooms (like some of our students do) dull and glassy-eyed after a summer of staring at the TV eight or ten hours a day.

For dedicated educators, education never ends.

So the next time someone offers you some dumb advice, the best thing you can possibly do is to ignore it. Don’t argue with it. Don’t start thinking it’s not as bad as it really is. Don’t file it in your mind to take out and examine at a later date, hoping that like fine wine it will improve with age. It won’t.

“Fish and visitors smell in three days,” Benjamin Franklin wrote in Poor Richard’s Almanack. Dumb advice doesn’t take three days to smell—it stinks right away and the stench is unmistakable. Hold your nose, walk away from it—and you’ll be on your way to becoming a better teacher.

Yours for ignoring dumb advice,
Magical Mystical Teacher

Posted on June 20, 2009, in First-year teacher. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Excellent post! I’m not a teacher but I work in the office at a high school. I know all about the lack of summer pay and also know all about what our teachers go through to keep up with trainings and certifications these days – what’s expected is ridiculous for the pay! I’ve always thought teachers should be one of our highest paid professionals – unfortunately it’s the opposite 😦

    Here’s to you, cheers to you! 🙂

  2. Nice to see you enjoying your vacation. Lucky for me we have the option of stretching our pay for 12 months, which I am going to do, once I sign that contract and start actually getting paid that is…

  3. Your advice is very, very good.
    I’m a teacher too, and I totally agree with the sentiment in thie post.
    The satisfaction from when a student “gets it” is the ultimate job satisfaction, no matter what anyone else tells you.
    Thank you for articulating it so neatly.

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