Part Four of Four in my series on my two master teachers.

My master teacher consoled a fellow student teacher, and I overheard him:

Never live too close to where you teach, especially when you start out. You sometimes need that drive back home to decompress.

I need the drive home, too. Teaching his classes is regularly frustrating. It’s an uphill battle against some students who never show up. Against some who do, rarely. Against those who are there every day, and immediately enter their 55-minute coma. Against those who are awake, but insist on avoiding work at any cost.

Against some of the rest, who know I’m nothing like my beloved master teacher.

He writes his lessons on the fly, and without much preparation. He knows which copies to make for which week, and he doesn’t usually put together handouts. He believes: Keep It Simple, Stupid; work smarter, not harder.

Students might do a textbook inventory, looking for people, events or vocabluary in the book and placing it in the appropriate spot on a timeline. Students might read from his copies of the TCI curriculum, and do the TCI activities. Students, given their parents’ permission, might watch Schindler’s List as half of the Holocaust unit.

These plans are easy to write, and they’re effective.

I don’t know if his compliments have any perspective: He hasn’t had a student teacher before. He did tell me me that I’m ahead of where he was as a student teacher, at least in terms of knowledge of the material.

Hanging out with the kids was the easy part for me. It was the subject that gave me trouble.

My skills are inverted from him, and so I have a long way to go.


  1. Tim

    I have to agree about living distance from your school, at least when you are starting out. My first teaching job was about 40 minutes/20 miles away. I used the whole trip home to “decompress”. I was still in my young, naive, “I need to be the best teacher in the world” mode. It is now about 10 years later. I still love my job and am dedicated to it. However, I now realize that IT IS JUST A JOB!!! I don’t care what others say. I now have a wife and two kids. My job used to be my entire life, and I probably lost 10 years off of that life due to the stress I gave myself. Now, I realize it is JUST A JOB and with a wife, two kids, mortgage, etc. etc., it is pretty low on my list of priorities. I hardly think about it when I am home and on weekends.

  2. I have never heard anyone say that, ever. You are a curious person.

  3. I started out commuting about 30 min each way, and this year I got a sweet “live for free house sitting situation” 2 blocks from the school. I prefer living closer.

    I commuted with 2 colleagues, 2 experienced Spanish teachers who happened to be sisters. It was great to ride home with them and vent about the day. It was a nice release.

    While that was nice, living closer makes me feel like hours more per day.

    Also, I can see exactly where Tim is coming from. I put many hours into the job and take it really seriously. Students perform well and like class and its great. But i’m sure when the ‘real-world’ family, mortgage, wife etc….eventually other things become more important, and I don’t think that is a bad thing. In fact, I believe that would eb the consensus of most experienced teachers.

  4. I’ve just never heard that point of view, before. By the sounds of the blogs of all those young, excitable teachers, you’d think that teachers with this point of view would be laughed out of the profession.

    Tim makes me think.

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