Words of Wisdom To Inspire & Motivate Educators


If you are an educator, right about now you might be feeling like me–you are in need of a little motivation as the end of the school year approaches. So I’ve come up with something a little different. Something that might give you pause. A chance to reflect and finish out your year strong. Here are some words of wisdom from wise teachers and leaders that help me:

I used to want a magic solution, a “something” that always worked. In fact, I looked to Robert Marzano to provide it as I studied his books. I’ve come to see though that nothing is airtight, and as soon as I let go of overblown expectations, things have a way of turning out alright. Education programs, jargon, crises and saviors will come and go, but the real work of teaching is to keep on keeping on when the going gets tough. We must realize that the job changes every time the bell rings, every time a hand is raised.     

I’ve always felt this way myself, but it is only in the last few years that I’ve taken this on as my teacher mantra. I’m much more concerned about clearing out students’ misconceptions about their limitations than I am about adding in content. The best part is, when the misconceptions are lifted, the content can find a place to settle.

My new book, Social-Emotional Learning in the Flexible Classroom, will be out this fall and the emphasis is on practical, every day ways to instill social and emotional skills in our students that will help them believe in their own amazing capabilities.

This seems truer now than it was pre-Common Core. I’m not blaming Common Core; I use the standards in my planning every day. However, as good teachers, so many of us just wanted to make sure we were “doing it right” and tried to make sure our students were prepared for assessments that we were unsure of ourselves. This was well-intentioned but detrimental to our students. I’ve been spending the last few years focusing on academic risk and productive struggle over multiple choice strategies, but I know why I was so concerned.

I’ve always been a bit of a trailblazer, and it isn’t always easy trying new things while people are looking over your shoulder. But that is the nature of good teaching and learning, and the longer I teach, the more I know that if I’m not a bit uncomfortable, I’m probably settling for something less than the best. This is a lesson I’m working on with my students, as so many of them feel the pressure to be teacher and parent pleasers over authentic learners.

My nine year old knows about algorithms, variables in coding and the Z axis. My 12-year-old reads music, has formed a babysitting business with her own “Caregiver Notesheet” that she researched online and is teaching herself French. As proud of them as I am, they aren’t the only ones. I see students in my class with the same abilities to learn what they want to know how to do, with or without me. The role of a teacher is evolving, and we must remind ourselves that the exponential growth that is happening is positive!

What are your favorite “Words from the Wise?” Who are your go-to-gurus? What advice resonates with you? Share with me below or tag me on Twitter with your response.

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Amber Chandler

Amber Chandler is a middle school teacher at Frontier Middle School in Hamburg, NY.

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