My Teaching Regret

If you have followed our blog, you have probably concluded that these guys have some pretty passionate beliefs and opinions on how children should be treated.

Your assumption would be accurate. We both strongly believe that if children are to learn how to treat others with respect then they need adults in their lives who consistently model respect even in times of conflict!

I recently retired from over thirty years of teaching to take a position in the education department at Hamline University in St. Paul, MN. If I were given the wish of going back in time and selecting any career, I would once again select education. It has been a wonderful, rewarding, and never-boring career. As I think back over my career, however, I also have some regrets. My greatest regret was that I did not always establish relationships and purposely extend good will to all of my colleagues.

At the beginning of my career, I seemed to most identify with those teachers who treated their students with the type of respect I felt they deserved. When a teacher did not treat a child respectfully, in my estimation, I would distance myself from this colleague.

Years later, I realized that this was not the response I should have chosen. By distancing myself, I didn’t give myself the opportunity to learn from them and I am certain these teachers did not want to learn from me! After all, why would teachers be open to learning anything from me when I haven’t shown any interest in them?

The wrong approach was distancing myself and acting as if I were right and they were wrong. If I could go back to the beginning of my career this is the behavior I would most want to change.

My message to teachers is get to know each other, support each other, work together, and learn from each other even when you disagree.


February 1, 2011. Uncategorized.


  1. Steven Fink replied:

    Great advice for every workplace environment!

  2. Deanna S replied:

    This is not easy. I too find myself distancing from teachers who are brash and difficult. Each year I try to establish a “new year” but end up in the same place I was the previous year. This is a tough one :/

    • Elizabeth replied:

      I find the older I get, the less I really know. I can and do learn something new from students/staff members when I keep an open mind and live outside of my comfort zone. I agree. It is hard to agree to disagree and separate the opinion from the person. I am not good at it.

  3. Kathleen Brice replied:

    I find myself thinking the same thing of people, in general. Not just with colleagues. While volunteering from a non-profit organization, I’ve learned that the people who most benefit from having me as a friend (and vice-versa) are the people I probably wouldn’t talk to at all because of their rude behavior. Sometimes people just need a friendly hand extended to them…which is still a challenge for me sometimes…

  4. Jessie Bahe replied:

    Great advice Jeff! Your regret is one that many individuals share because it is natural to distance ourselves from professionals with different educational attitudes. It is easy to look at their teaching style and believe that we have nothing in common and little to gain from any dialogue. However, imagine a work place where everyone was identical. Initially, this may seem like the ideal work situation, yet upon further reflection, perhaps not. I was recently discussing high school teachers with some friends and I realized that although we were talking about the same teachers, they each left different lasting impressions. For instance, I connected with some teachers that my friends did not and vise versa. I realized than how beneficial it is for a school to contain a variety of teaching styles. Even though it is challenging from the teacher’s perspective, it makes the school community stronger. And if teachers approach this challenge from Jeff’s viewpoint, which is to get to know one another and learn from each other, the staff can also benefit.

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