36 Lessons From My 36 Years in Education | Jon Bergmann | 2 Min Read

August 26, 2022

I start my 36th year in education (28 as a classroom teacher) and below are the lessons I have learned hanging out with teenagers for so many years. Here are my 36 lessons from my 36 years in education:

  1. Learning their names early matters a great deal to the students.
  2. They know if you care. They have very fine-tuned BS detectors.
  3. They don’t care what you know until they know you care.
  4. Have fun!—Being a teenager is hard—very hard.
  5. Give much grace because being a teen is hard.
  6. But still hold them accountable—Though they may complain—if you hold them to a high standard, they will thank you for it later—really!
  7. Listen! Really listen to your students!
  8. They are awesome if you take time to listen.
  9. Always tell the truth—unless you are doing a magic trick…
  10. Ask them about their lives outside of class—in fact, know something about them so you can ask how the (play/game/match) was.
  11. Laugh with them.
  12. Cry with them
  13. Never allow students to mistreat each other—you MUST deal with mistreatment right away.
  14. Never mistreat a student.
  15. Always believe the best in your students and they will start to believe the best in themselves.
  16. Set lots of things on fire—even yourself! (Note: I am a chemistry teacher).
  17. Let them light each other on fire (with stringent safety protocols).
  18. Students learn best when they are doing science (choose your discipline)—not hearing about it.
  19. They notice everything! What you wear, if your fly is down, what music you listen to—everything! 
  20. Always check your fly or button before class!
  21. Go to the bathroom before school—You never know when you will be able to have a break to pee. 
  22. Too much cognitive load is bad.
  23. Not enough cognitive load is bad—there’s a fine line.
  24. All students don’t learn at the same pace—find a way to accommodate all students.
  25. Give students multiple opportunities to prove what they know—One test should not determine their grade.
  26. Emphasize learning over grading.
  27. I am not the grader-in-chief—but rather the learner-in-chief.
  28. Most students need deadlines as some of them will opt to not work if given the choice.
  29. Learning happens best when they have time to process.
  30. Down-time in the summer is critical to my effectiveness during the school year.
  31. Let the little things bounce off you.
  32. Don’t get hung up in school politics.
  33. Hang out with positive teachers—You are the average of the five people you hang out with the most.
  34. Tell your students to hang out with positive friends—Tell them they are the average of the five people they hang out with the most.
  35. Have a life outside of school.
  36. Most #EdResearch can be summarized: Active Learning + Relationships = Good Teaching.

Do you have any more “lessons?”  I would love to hear from you!
This post was republished from Jon Bergmann’s blog, Mastery Learning Simplified, August 15, 2022.

Jon Bergmann

Jon Bergmann is one of the pioneers of the Flipped Class Movement. Jon is leading the worldwide adoption of flipped learning by working with governments, schools, corporations, and education non-profits. Jon is coordinating or guiding flipped learning initiatives around the globe including China, Taiwan, Korea, Australia, Singapore, Thailand, the Middle East, Iceland, Sweden, Norway, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Canada, South America, and the United States. Jon is the author of 10 books including the bestselling book: Flip Your Classroom which has been translated into 10 languages. He has been an educator since 1986. He has served as a middle and high school science teacher, the lead technology facilitator for a school district in the Chicago suburbs, as well as a consultant/public speaker. He currently is teaching science and leading staff development at Houston Christian High School.

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