“ ‘When I Started Teaching, I Wish I Had Known’: Weekly Wisdom for Beginning Teachers,” written by Carol Pelletier Radford, features nuggets of knowledge from veteran teachers for newcomers.
Two educators with ties to the Mayfield Central School District, Sandy Brower and Pam King, had their stories included in the book. King teaches English at the high school while Brower has held a multitude of roles, most recently a two-year contract as the district’s well-being coordinator. She taught at the school on and off while pursuing her psychology certifications, totaling around 10 years with the district.
Brower is a trained positive psychologist; she had previously worked with Radford through The Flourishing Center, where she received her certification in positive psychology. She now works as a certified trainer for The Center for Positive Education and shares the practice with other educators.
Radford reached out to Brower asking if she knew any teacher who may be a good fit. Brower immediately thought of King and connected the two. Then Radford asked if Brower would be interested in submitting. She originally declined, preferring to make space for other educators, she said. After some gentle but hopeful arm twisting, Brower agreed to share her story.
“It was a really cathartic endeavor for me,” she said.
The prompt was to tell a story about a classroom interaction that changed the way you teach. Radford posed three questions as a framework for the stories, asking for “one big thing you learned in your career as a teacher that you would share with a novice teacher about closing out the year,” “any tips, skills, or strategies you successfully used to manage your time and classroom,” and finally, “What is one way you take care of your body, mind, spirit that you would recommend to a beginning teacher?”
Brower’s story centered around an interaction with a student who had been complaining about another teacher. Brower listened to the student’s feelings and rather than totally rebuffing them, encouraged them to form a relationship.
“Why don’t you try asking your teacher about things your teacher likes to do, what’s important to your teacher,” she challenged the student. “Try to find three things you like about your teacher.”
The strategy proved effective.
“She was all smiles and excited about the things she learned about her teacher,” Brower said. “It kind of changed her perspective on life and taught her to see the good in life. I think sometimes that’s all these kids need.”