6 Things I Learned in 6 Years of Teaching

Gluebook assignment from one of my sophomores: Preparation + Opportunity = Success

The only way for you to truly understand what it means to work as a public school teacher is to experience it. This year marks the end of year 6 in a teaching role and year 3 teaching my preferred subject at Blackstone Valley Tech. This year, I accomplished two milestones: I obtained my professional license in Design and Visual Communications and achieved professional status at Blackstone Valley Tech by working here for 3 full school years.

These accomplishments come with rewards like more job security and the ability to be paid a salary based on credentials I have had since 2021 (insert upside down smiley face here). 

Besides all this, the most valuable things I have gained in the past 6 years are these 6 lessons. I’m hoping by sharing these, you can apply some of this wisdom to your life, teacher or not. 🙂

Lesson 1: No One Cares

The #1 mistake I made in the first few years teaching was working WAY too hard for little to no benefit. There is no prize for working the longest hours. Don’t expect to be recognized or rescued from the pile of work you create for yourself. This doesn’t mean you should never go above and beyond, but if you do, your perspective should be out of a place of passion, not because you expect to be applauded for your efforts.

Lesson 2: Students learn more from experiences than from their grades

Giving a student a bad grade will never teach them the objective they were meant to learn with the lesson. The best lessons are found in those “teachable moments” and opportunities where students can authentically reflect on their experience with a lesson. One tough lesson I realized in my teaching role is that it’s just not possible to help my students reach every objective; the best thing I can do is expose the students to skills that can help them shape their pathway. (I’m privileged because I don’t have state-mandated test benchmarks to meet in my vocational role).

Lesson 3: Your workplace will never be perfect

Simply put: every workplace has its own set of issues. Decide which issues you’re willing to work with.

Lesson 4: Your relationship with the people you work closely with and workplace culture DO matter

Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

Lesson 5: There is a lot of BS

Learn to see the humor in it.

Lesson 6: Your work is never done

Celebrate the fact that your work is never going to be done, and that’s a good thing! You’ll always have opportunities for continuous improvement, which not every role has. If you learn to look at this fact in a positive way, instead of a pile of tasks, you’ll be able to grow in ways you never thought possible and manage your stress a heck of a lot better.

Next year will be the first year I’m not planning on introducing an entirely new unit, but there will be plenty of opportunities to take what I have and make it better. Looking forward to year 7.

School-Year 2023-2024 Highlights

New Pop Art Tommy for 2024. He’s grown so much!


Midway critiques increased work quality and engagement this year.

This color wheel assignment is an example of taking something we’re doing, simplifying it, and seeing increased work quality as a result.


I created a collaborative group activity with the freshmen and juniors to identify the principles of design used in classic art pieces.


Gold-medal-winning SkillsUSA Sticker Design by our freshmen, Nicolette.


Excited to see what the class of 2027 accomplishes in their sophomore year. Here’s some sports cards we designed on their first days in shop back in December.


We’re also experimenting with more off-the-computer assignments. This letterpress simulation using lego dots came out pretty cool!


Sophomores completed a Multimedia testimonial project at the start of the year and a Valentine’s Day themed stationary set project mid-year that were both pretty successful. Both projects will be back next year.