The First Day of School

Today is the first day of school.  It is also the first time in 17 years that I will not be starting the day in front of a class full of high school seniors.


I have mixed emotions.


Even though I have been working through the summer as a full-time financial planner, today is the first time it has really hit me that I will no longer be teaching in the classroom.  I knew it would be weird as school started but I guess it is natural to be grieving a bit.


The first day has a special energy to it.  I am imagining myself in my classroom teaching my first lesson to a group not quite ready to be there.  My goal is to have them say, “Econ may not be that bad after all!” and have them understand why studying economics is important. You put yourself out there in front of 30 students six times throughout the day.  They get a chance to know you for the first time and you get to begin the process of getting to know them. Each class period has their own unique personality. It will evolve over time but you begin to see glimpses of what it will be that first day.


I loved teaching.

I loved the challenge of getting students to enjoy economics.

I enjoyed getting to know all of my students on a personal level.

I cherished the bond of friendships with my teaching colleagues.

I definitely loved the chance to help around 300 high school seniors each year learn the knowledge and skills needed to become financially successful in this world we live in.  This was my passion.


That is why it was a tough decision to make.  But I had a second passion as well.


As a financial planner, I am still teaching.  I teach individuals and couples in an intimate setting as I walk with them on their financial journey.  I have even had the opportunity to teach other teachers about their financial opportunities at a couple of conferences and during a 2-day class.  I hope to do more of this.


I have no regrets.  This job is awesome too!

I think about the impact I have had on the clients I have worked with over the 4 years I have done this part-time.  Just like teaching, the ability to make a difference in people’s lives is tremendous.


But I will definitely miss being a classroom teacher.


Thank you, teachers and others who work in our schools for doing your best each day to make a difference for your students and our future.  Have a great year!

Why Don't Students Like School?

Have you ever had a spirited discussion about the art of teaching?  


A few of weeks ago, this happened to me with a few colleagues after school.  In fact, this happens quite often in our department. Like other schools, I’m sure, our district is making some changes in the way we are expected to go about teaching our students.  This presents the opportunity for lots of good discussions around how things are going, whether these changes are good for students, and what is the best ways to achieve effective classrooms.  


I enjoy these discussions, a lot.


During this spirited talk, our psychology teacher handed me a book and told me that I should read it.  The next day, I began reading it and couldn’t put it down. In fact, I finished it in two days, which is out of the ordinary for me.  


This book is called Why Don’t Students Like School? and is written by a cognitive scientist, Daniel T. Willingham.  


To be honest, it had been a long time since I read a book about the craft of teaching.  Since becoming a financial planner, most of my reading has been about the craft of financial planning.  I’m embarrassed to say that I haven’t done a ton of reading on how to become a better teacher besides the professional development that our district has provided - at least, nothing on my own.  


The concepts in the book have been on my mind the past couple of weeks as I developed lesson plans.  It has also affected how I think about parenting my children. It even made me reflect on how I put together a practice plan for my daughter’s 4th grade basketball team that I coach!


When has been the last time you have purposefully read something to improve your craft?  


If you are looking for something to reflect on your teaching, I highly recommend this book.  HERE and HERE are two reviews about the book and HERE is the author’s website, which is full of other articles and research, if you are interested.


Are there other areas in your life that you should be improving?  Should you be reading books on your finances? Your health? Your marriage?  Parenting?

Lastly, are there other books out there that I, or others, would benefit reading?  Please email me book suggestions and/or share how a particular book changed your teaching.  I would love to compile a list for another blog post.

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