February 14, 2017

Don’t Quit (part 2)?

I wrote Don’t Quit to encourage new teachers to stay in the game. I was teaching a graduate course at the time and not yet an administrator. My perspective is different now, but not my message. Now I see young teachers in the early years of their career struggle with the daily grind of lesson planning, standards requirements, and student interaction. I see them fall and get up again and again and again. I see the wear on their faces and on their bodies. Teaching is hard work, and the reality of the classroom can be like hitting a wall.

Struggling teacher, I encourage you to look at the students in your classroom. You are their learning guide for life. More important than the content that you teach is the way you teach young people to learn and live. They are watching you struggle. They know it is difficult. They understand that you care. They want you to succeed. Yes, they will challenge you; that’s their job. You are there to meet their challenges and guide them to a place of better understanding and achievement. You are their lifeline; and they are the largest source of inspiration in your life.

So be inspired. If you give up, they will too. They don’t challenge you to trip you up; they challenge you to test your mettle. It is the greatest of honors to be their teacher in your classroom today. You are molding and shaping their lives. No, not everyone can teach – but you can! You made the decision to teach and have lasted this long. You are there on purpose. Don’t quit on the students and they will not quit on you. Trust me, I know, and so does the teacher in the classroom next door. Go ask them today.


  1. Kevin. I googled "I want a job where I take care of teachers". And it led me to your blog. I'm so glad and I plan to do more reading at a later time. But right now, I want to pick your brain.
    Let me back up. I was a music teacher for 9 years, and decided to leave my classroom, for many complicated reasons that would overtake this post if I got into it. But now I am working as a Piano Accompanist in public schools. Still an "educator", but not a teacher. Since taking this job, its been a time of intense reflection and altered perspective. I'm in and out of several different classrooms, experience different teacher approaches, and realizing the common challenges for all teachers.
    Now I'm feeling this calling to pursue a career in "Teacher Wellness". I would define this as: guiding teachers in taking care of themselves mentally and physically,
    giving advice in time management and organization,
    encouraging a work-personal life balance,
    and evaluating teacher workload processes.
    Problem is ---> I don't think that career ACTUALLY exists. So how can I reframe this as something else, that does exist?
    Someone once said to me, "Why don't you pursue an administration degree?" And I recoiled in HORROR. God no! I don't want to be a principal. As a principal, I envision that my day would be filled with angry parent meetings, surly teachers questioning policies, and being waist deep in discipline referrals.
    But I'm starting to feel like maybe administration is the way to go. Get myself the credentials I need to put myself in a position where I can be influential on this new found goal of contributing to teacher wellness.
    I have no idea what path to pursue or how to get there. You seem to have knowledge or ideas on this subject. Any advice?

  2. As an administrator you can influence teachers from the inside out. As a consultant you work from the outside in. Administration is very challenging, but where else can you have a positive effect on a whole campus? If the teachers are happy and healthy, the kids have a better opportunity for learning. You can make that happen. It's not an easy job, but if you keep you priorities and delegate responsibility you can have huge success! Plus, I think Art teachers make great educational leaders because we think deeply and see many possibilities. Good Luck!!