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What I’d Tell My Younger Self: 5 Teachers Go Back in Time

What I'd Tell My Younger Self: 5 Teachers Go Back in Time
(c) Reset Fest Inc, Canada

Educators

What I’d Tell My Younger Self: 5 Teachers Go Back in Time

"I think I'd tell myself to be more forgiving, both to myself and to my students."

Teaching is a commitment: you need to invest your time, emotions and share your knowledge and experiences with students, inspiring and motivating them along the way. It is a powerful profession — you have the ability to influence young minds and prepare them for the future. But do teachers wish they’d done something differently? Would they tell their younger self to be bolder or take risks? We asked five teachers from around the world what they wish they knew when they started out their teaching journey.  

Heather Carreiro, 35, from Massachusetts

One Thing I Wish I’d Told My Younger Self: 5 Teachers Go Back in Time

Courtesy: Heather Carreiro

Heather currently lives in Mumbai, India with her two children, Gabriel (7) and Arianne (4).  She has been an educator for the last ten years, started out teaching English as an additional language (EAL) courses for adults at UMass-Amherst while pursuing her undergraduate degree before earning her teaching license in English Language Arts and a master’s degree in English. She has taught abroad for several years, in Pakistan, Vietnam and now India because she loves teaching students from different cultures and backgrounds. Heather teaches at grades 7 and 8 English language arts and drama at boarding school in Mumbai.

What is the one thing she wishes she’d told her younger self?

“Don’t discount any place or experience, and don’t get stuck on any long-term plan. When I first went to job fairs, I had this idea about what countries I wanted to work and where I didn’t want to work. Each place has its advantages and disadvantages, but if you count out too many options, you may miss an open door. Why not knock on all the doors and see what might be inside? In regard to this philosophy, don’t turn down any interview and take every experience as a learning experience.

I had never targeted Vietnam as a place to live, however I ended up living there for five years and enjoying an accelerated period of professional growth and focus.

My second piece of advice is this: network with other international educators around the world. You may end up in a place where you feel isolated, either professionally or personally, and it’s these people that you meet, work with, and struggle with that become your friends and support network.

Connections may also be completely unexpected. For example, one woman, with whom I led a cohort at a conference, ended up coming to India with her husband, and the three of us spent a memorable week snowshoe trekking and hiking around the Himalayas.”

Noel Tuohy, 30,  from Ireland

One Thing I Wish I’d Told My Younger Self: 5 Teachers Go Back in Time

Courtesy: Noel Tuohy

Noel currently lives in Dubai, UAE and teaches at Jumeirah English Speaking School. He has been teaching for the last decade and has taught in schools in London and Dubai.  Noel is passionate about incorporating technology and innovative tools into his classroom lessons in order to make learning more fulfilling for his students. He is head of year five and also teaches math, English, science and other subjects.

What is the one thing he wishes he’d told his younger self?

“To listen! Not that I didn’t, but to do so more intently. There are so many great lessons to be learned from hearing what others have to say, in all aspects of life. You never know one person’s story so listen to them, and be careful not to jump to presumptions.”

Gina Le, 28, from Vietnam, raised in Ohio, United States

One Thing I Wish I’d Told My Younger Self: 5 Teachers Go Back in Time

Courtesy: Gina Le

Currently teaching in Baltimore City Schools at Academy for College and Career Exploration,  a turnaround school. A turnaround school is one that is considered low-performing — Gina and her colleagues are in the process of transforming it. Before this, Gina taught in New York City for five years.

Gina teaches self-contained 9th and 10th grade English/Language Arts. Self-contained classrooms are for students with disabilities who need a smaller setting of about around 10 to 15 students instead of a general education classroom that can range from 25 to 30 students.

What is the one thing she wishes she’d told her younger self?

“It’s hard to choose just one thing I wish I had known going into education, but I think I’d tell myself to be more forgiving, both to myself and to my students. During my first year, I put a lot of pressure on myself to be perfect that every mishap felt like a sign that I wasn’t cut out for this work. Every lesson was “do or die” and that becomes taxing after a while. I’d tell myself to focus more on showing love and building positive relationships with my “more difficult” students and to be mindful of the “invisible emotional backpacks” that young people carry with them, which often manifest in misbehavior mainly because they lack the coping and communication skills to deal with anxiety and trauma. It would have prevented me from taking everything so personally.”

Ashley Green, 30, from Georgia

One Thing I Wish I’d Told My Younger Self: 5 Teachers Go Back in Time

Courtesy: Ashley Green

Ashley’s passion for global education has led to her teaching in classrooms and collaborating with teachers from all over the world. Her desire to become a global educator began when she taught students in England, and had the chance to explore the link between the International Baccalaureate (IB) program and the American Common Core standards. Ashley has been teaching for the last eight years.

Ashley currently teaches English, Social Studies, and Moral Education at Universal American School, Dubai and is also a middle school math teacher leader, focusing on innovation within the secondary math classroom. Additionally, she works as an achievement coach, assisting students with preparing for life beyond grade school and has experience teaching both elementary and middle school levels.

What is the one thing she wishes she’d told her younger self?

“One thing I wish I would have told my younger self was to keep all of the letters that were written to you by your students. Sometimes, the days are long and hard, but when you come across old cards and letters you remember there’s a reason and purpose behind everything you will do as a teacher.”

Vinod Kumar, 47, from India

One Thing I Wish I’d Told My Younger Self: 5 Teachers Go Back in Time

Courtesy: Vinod Kumar

He currently lives in Chennai, India and was a software engineer before he transitioned into teaching full-time. Vinod thinks a classroom is an incredible opportunity to gain valuable insights and perspectives on complex topics. He also firmly believes that a student can learn a lot more within a class than at home because the learning process begins in school which serves as an invaluable guide in shaping a child’s perspective. He teaches middle school math and science and physics for grades nine and ten.

What is the one thing he wishes he’d told his younger self?

“I would ask my 20-something-year-old self to start teaching. Not necessarily children, but whoever he is comfortable teaching. I have realized that everyone fortunate to be educated should teach others. It is not necessary for all of us to leave our jobs and begin our career in teaching but we can always teach in our free time and I know during those days, I had plenty of free time.”

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