Whenever I enter a new year, I like to reflect on the things I have learned. I use this as a way of finding closure, but it also keeps me thankful as it reminds me of all the opportunities I have been given to learn and grow. Throughout 2017 I learnt many lessons, some hard and some more pleasant. It was a year of contrast in one sense, as my work-life was a very challenging and difficult experience, while my personal life was incredibly enjoyable. Throughout the ups and the downs though, I experienced many opportunities for growth, and would like to share 11 life lessons that I learned in 2017.
1. Life is ever changing
As I mentioned in Names, many things changed for me this year. I was married and went from Miss to Mrs. Life is ever changing, and that is what makes it so interesting.
2. Our experiences outside of the classroom can actually make us better teachers
The ups and downs that we experience in our personal lives can help us with our teaching if we let them. Going through difficulties helps us stay empathetic to students who are experiencing troubles. Working hard for something and finally seeing the results of that gives us a new appreciation for when students are finally able to achieve something new.
3. Things don’t always go to plan
I reflected on this in And Keep Failing. Sometimes life doesn’t go the way we thought it would. Realising this is an important first step in learning to accept the difficult seasons.
4. Being content with the season we’re in is so important
It’s SO hard, I know. However, that sweet concept of hindsight has shown me how important it is to find contentment in every season. I struggled with this throughout the past two years but my advice is still to try, try your best, to find contentment in every season.
5. It only takes the small things to make it all worthwhile
The Small Things are all it takes to remind us of why we do what we do. How beautiful it is when we are reminded of this.
6. We can be an example to others
There are so many people out there that are learning from us. Our students of course, but also staff, family, friends, younger teachers and the list goes on. Think about the kind of example you want to set and let that keep you motivated to make the most of this life.
7. The most important things are not material
The Essentials are not material things. No matter how important we might think it is to be prepared and organised for whatever may come, we should remember that the most important things in teaching (and life) are not ‘things’.
8. Having a healthy work-life balance should be a priority
We need to actively, purposely make having a healthy work-life balance a priority. It will not just happen on its own.
9. There will be difficult days
Sometimes things will be difficult. It is all a part of the journey. Just remember that these difficult days are what make the good days so much more rewarding.
10. Our purpose is not found in our work
We should not let our work define our identity. I have had to learn that I am not ‘Mrs T, the primary school teacher’. I am an individual with an identity that is not dependent on my work or even my relationship status. Sure, these things will influence who I am, but they do not define who I am.
11. Gods plans are so much better than our own
Sometimes not getting what we want is actually good for us, because there may be something better in store that we can’t yet see. Although we may not always understand the timing of things that come our way, we can trust that eventually things will work out for the better.
On that note, I have some exciting news. I have been offered my first full-time teaching contract! In 2018, I will have my own class of students to teach, inspire, encourage, support and cherish. I am so eager to get started and to continue sharing this journey with you. With renewed energy and refreshed anticipation, let us continue this new year, keeping our minds open to the learning opportunities it will present us with along the way.