Veteran Teachers Pass On Advice for Catholic School Educators


Teaching can be a challenging but rewarding career field, particularly in a Catholic school where one can live out their faith. As young teachers take their first steps into the hallowed halls of grade schools and high schools, they take the lessons learned in college classes into their new classrooms. Yet teaching and learning go hand in hand, and there are many things still to be learned. Some lessons can only be passed down to the next generation by longtime educators, those whose years of experience in the classroom have brought them great wisdom and insight into the profession. Several teachers from Catholic schools within the Diocese of Providence have shared with Rhode Island Catholic things about their vocation that they have learned over the years and impart some advice to those beginning their careers in the classroom.

What lessons have you learned from your years of teaching?
• Through the years, I have learned it is most important to be flexible and to be kind. Teaching is truly a blessing and brings joy to my life every single day. Every day my students make me laugh!
What advice would you like to pass down to teachers in the early stages of their careers?
• There are so many things that can make teaching at a Catholic school a true vocation, but nothing more than being able to share the love of Jesus with our faith community. Keeping a strong prayer life can benefit new teachers to strengthen them during the difficult times, sustain them through the day-to-day and provide them with a way to thank God for the blessings.
My top ten list for new teachers:
1. Ask questions and listen to responses
2. Be kind to all your coworkers
3. Smile
4. Try to save/invest money starting in year one
5. Be flexible and creative
6. Share great ideas
7. Surround yourself with the positive
8. Show up on time
9. Learn from any mistakes made
10. PrayWhat lessons have you learned from your years of teaching?
• There have been many lessons learned in my years of teaching and I have learned a great deal about how to adapt and accept change. It has taught me to be flexible, yet still create a routine that can be easily followed by students and teachers alike. I have learned to build a good foundation with my students, where they know that I create a nurturing, safe environment that they can learn in. I have learned to be patient, and to take time and enjoy teaching our students, as we only have them for a short time.
• I have also learned that I never stop learning. Each year brings challenges and successes, but most of all, joy in knowing that a student is eager and willing to learn. It may mean spending more time on certain things, but overall, the end result is a child who has grown during that year. To know that we had a part in it is very rewarding. We have learned to create a classroom family that works together and encourages each other every step of every year.
What advice would you like to pass down to teachers in the early stages of their careers?
• To remind them that the work is hard, but the reward is great!
• If you have the chance to have a paraprofessional in your classroom, be entirely grateful for that; they play a major role in helping you as teacher.
• Always take time to reflect on your day, no matter if it was amazing or difficult.
• Be extra prepared and organized, especially preparing for the next morning. At the end of the day, those extra 10 minutes can be so helpful!
• Know that you are making a difference, no matter how big or small.

What lessons have you learned from your years of teaching?
· What I have learned from my years of teaching is that each year brings something different, no two years are the same. I have learned to embrace these differences because each class is unique. It is a way that keeps teachers always learning about themselves and their craft.
· I have learned to always have a lesson plan, but although a “teachable moment” can interrupt that flow, go with it! Like music or drama, teaching is an art form where I am able to bring creativity to my classroom.
What advice would you like to pass down to teachers in the early stages of their careers?
· Some advice I would give to new teachers beginning their careers is to take each day as it comes, be patient, and have a sense of humor; laughter is the best medicine!

What lessons have you learned from your years of teaching?
• Teaching and learning happen within the relationships we build with students. Without a positive and trusting relationship, students do not learn deeply or experience the freedom to make mistakes and keep trying. Some relationships with students are more challenging, but we must always try to connect with each individual. Act sincerely and honestly with the students in your care.
• Teaching is a vocation. I feel called to be a teacher and cannot imagine a more meaningful path for my life journey.
What advice would you like to pass down to teachers in the early stages of their careers?
• Engage in reflective practice. Daily, take the time to think about what went well and what can be improved. Admit mistakes and take action to correct them. Reflective practice is not a discrete event, but an ongoing way of being a teacher.
• Nurture a growth mindset in yourself and your students. Don’t be afraid to fail or admit failure; encourage the same in your students.
• Be a lifelong learner. Read, write and share your thinking with others. Pursue informal and formal professional development opportunities to inform and improve your teaching. Seek out mentors to observe and give you feedback. Strive always to implement best practices in the classroom.
• Maintain a work-life balance, even if you must use the summer break to even out the hours spent in the all-consuming school year journey. You will be a more interesting and effective teacher if you nurture your relationships and experiences outside the classroom.