The Advice You Never Knew You Needed
Surviving As A Teacher In 2023
Rachel Borthwick, Education Manager at Kimberlin Education

WARNING => Please don’t edit this block

Riding the influencer wave: How to get your resources into the hands of Aussie teachers.

WARNING => Please don’t edit this block

Fifteen years ago, whilst standing at the school gate, I heard it.

‘Don’t let them see you smile until Easter.’

I was steeling myself to take that first step over the threshold from student teacher to actual teacher when I felt someone lightly touch my shoulder and utter the sentence that has stuck with me a decade and a half later.

Boom. It was as simple and as complicated as that. The first piece of (unsolicited) advice I received as a beginning teacher. My adviser, as it turns out, would be my grade partner for the year. Although we shared a paper-thin dividing wall, we didn’t share each other’s approach.

While he welcomed his students with the warmth of a drill sergeant; 21-year-old me, fresh out of university and physically smaller than many of my charges, just couldn’t (or wouldn’t). And so began a career filled with advice from those who started alongside me, those who had been teaching for years and those who had earned their teaching stripes and come out the other end, landing (relatively) unscathed into retirement.

With the 2023 school year a mere few weeks away, we are sharing the advice that has stuck with us in the hope that it helps to shape a positive year ahead for you!

  1. You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. At first glance, this pearl of wisdom from motivational speaker, Jim Rohn seems like more of a statement of fact rather than sage advice. Perhaps it can be both? We all know that teachers spend a considerable chunk of their day/week/life at school and with that comes interactions with colleagues. Seek out those who are sunshine. The positive ones, the motivating ones, the kind ones. Aligning yourself with the colleagues who are there to support, uplift and encourage you are the ones you will need on those days when things feel a little tough.
  2. Leave work at work. Sounds simple enough, right? But this refers to more than the physical work of grading and lesson preparation. Lock the stress, the worry, and the emotion behind your classroom door each afternoon as you leave for home. Allow yourself the kindness of switching off each day so you can front up the next morning refreshed and energised. Remove work emails from your phone and resist the temptation to take that stack of marking home with you on the passenger seat. It’ll take some time and you may need active reminders, but once you understand the value of being ‘out of office’, your personal time will be so much richer.
  3. Fill your own cup first. This has become something of a mindfulness motto; how can you expect to care for others if you’ve not cared for yourself? There is no denying that teachers need a way to debrief after being ‘on’ all day, so find something that works for you and just for you. An evening walk, a podcast, a row of chocolate. Allow yourself the kindness of switching off each day so you can front up the next morning refreshed and energised.
  4. Listen. To yourself, to your students, to your colleagues. Believe me when I say that you have something to learn from everyone you come into contact with. As transmitters of skills and knowledge, what better way to teach our students to listen and learn than to exhibit those skills ourselves? Remain open to change, progress and others’ ways of thinking. Wonderful things can happen when we become vulnerable. As Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

With the ‘unprecedented’ years hopefully behind us, we can get back to some semblance of normalcy in our classrooms and continue to shape young impressionable minds. We hope our advice that has stuck, sticks with you.

Share your best pieces of advice with us below, we’d love to hear from you!

WARNING => Please don’t remove this block