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Share Your Own Story: How a Rough First Year Became a Career

Center for Teaching Quality

CTQ and EdWeek blogger Justin Minkel shares how the many mistakes of his first year teaching led to a revolution in his approach to students. He learned to shift the focus away from himself discovering that when he did he "became a lot less self-conscious. It didn’t matter if my slacks were too baggy or my voice was too high. It wasn’t about me. It was about the students. It was about Jahlissa, and Xiomara, and Anthony. It was about Ivan, and Carlos, and Tionni." Take time to read Justin's story. Then share a story of your own. How did a mistake early in your career lead you to a better place? We connect through our stories and learn from each other's experience. Connect and share!

Photo Credit: Eyebeam via

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  • Liz Dwyer

    "Your first year of teaching is kind of like your first truly gruesome photo from a high school formal dance." That is the TRUTH! Oh gosh, that made me laugh.

    I really appreciate this post because our children need an education system that's less focused on compliance and more on what Justin says: "I learned the most important lesson a teacher can learn: I really liked these kids. I liked their jokes. I liked their laughter. I liked the way even the toughest mohawked fourth grader would hold his little sister’s hand when he walked her to kindergarten." When you like your students--when you love them--you'll do whatever it takes to ensure they learn. They'll love you back, and along the way remember the lessons they learned in your class.

    • Center for Teaching Quality

      Justin has a great way of incorporating both humor and profundity in his writing. Thanks for laughing and reflecting with us! We hope this encourages more people to share their stories.

  • Alessandra Rizzotti

    I'm going to include this in, our guide to crowdsourcing creative progress!

      • Alessandra Rizzotti

        Is there a deadline for sharing stories? And it's primarily for teachers, correct?

        • Center for Teaching Quality

          There is no deadline! Our site is built around teachers and those who care deeply about education sharing their experiences, encouraging each other, and pushing our thinking. It is open to all who care about education.

          • Alessandra Rizzotti

            Good to know! Thanks! I'll share in Push for Good!!