30 Years Go By…

October 8th was my birthday! It was not just an ordinary birthday… I jumped into a new decade of life!

Hello *30*!!!

When I arrived at school, a teammate surprised me with this “Happy Birthday” sign to hang from my classroom door:


They then surprised me with lunch!! Yum, a delicious surprise! My teammate Brooke (former student teacher) asked me if I would be coming back up to the room after I dropped my kiddos off at lunch and I said I was going to make a parent phone call. Next thing I know the front office phone is ringing and the secretary is asking me how long I am going to be on the phone with the parent because Brooke wanted to know. Now, why in the world would Brooke care what I am doing?! And, I just talked to her 5 minutes ago, so I begin to think she must really need to talk to me about something! Low and behold, as I walk by another teammate’s room, I hear… “SURPRISE!!!”

photo-228(Take-out is a luxury in teaching in case you don’t know!)

They even wrote me the sweetest card and spoiled me with a gift card to my favorite store- Kohls!


For each of my student’s birthdays I place a “Happy Birthday” cover on the back of their chair for the day. My students made sure I had the same treatment, so I had to oblige!


And here come some of the funny, sweet cards that I received:



(a student from last year)


(a student from last year filled me in on her little secret…too cute!)


(At least someone is excited about me turning 30! haha)

I even had some love from past student’s parents on my teacher Facebook page:




It warms my heart that even though I might not be their child’s current teacher, that they remember me…some even 7 years ago!!

So, anyways… on to the REAL post! I made a personal “30 on 30” post of things I learned over the past 30 years, which inspired this post of  “30 on 30” educational things I have learned over my career.

Here it is:

30 on 30!

1. It’s all about the kids, not the paperwork

2. A child will always remember the relationship they had with you so make it count

3. Teach a child how to become an individual

4. Remember that children are like wet cement so provide sound teaching

5. A smile and a hug is treasured more than an A+

6. Show your personality

7. Spend your recess and lunch hanging out with your students

8. Find balance so that you can give your best each day (taking time for you is not selfish, it’s necessary in order to refuel to give back to the kids that mean the most)

9. Communicate with parents as often as possible as they are your greatest ally

10. Work as a team in all that you do

11. Invest in your coworkers- they are a wealth of knowledge

12. Appreciate the custodial staff because without them you wouldn’t be able to do your job

13. Create partnerships that pour back into your students in ways you are incapable of

14. Worksheets do not make a student smarter; time, patience and dedicated teaching does

15. Administration will respect you more if you are passionate and give your best every day, regardless of if it adds up to being the first one to school or being the last one to leave

16. Organization is half the battle

17. When you get stressed, think big picture and it will all fall into place

18. Jean Friday makes everything better

19. School cafeteria lunch isn’t half bad when you forget your lunch

20. Having a sub that can teach a class is a goldmine and should be held sacred

21. A colorful classroom is not only for the kids, but to lift your spirits too

22. The best gift a child can give a teacher is the moment when they finally understand a concept

23. I remember my years of teaching by the students in my class

24. Allows prepare for tomorrow before leaving the building- ANYTHING can happen in the morning

25. Even when you get stern with a child, they still say the sweetest things about and to you

26. A homemade gift is better than any store bought item

27. Teaching is a choice, but being a good teacher is a calling

28. Using the restroom at free will is a luxury so eat and drink according to schedule!

29. A day in the life of a teacher begins before the sun comes up and ends way after the sun goes down… oh and summers are spent working too (regardless of what others may think)

30. I LOVE MY JOB!! 🙂


(If you’re interested in the personal list, here it is:
1. Put others before yourself
2. Be thankful daily
3. Listen to your mom and dad- life has taught them a thing or two
4. Reflect on your actions and take steps to be better each day
5. Try your best in all that you do
6. You’ll never reach your dream if you don’t set one
7. Be a life-long learner
8. Smile
9. Be honest with others and yourself
10. Keep your commitments
11. Don’t take yourself too seriously
12. Find something good in everyone
13. Be passionate about something, then go do it
14. Spend time with your elders
15. Balance in life is key- there will always be work so take a break to rejuvenate
16. Family is your guaranteed support system no matter what
17. Surround yourself with the type of people that bring out the best in you and make you want to be better
18. Love yourself for the good and the bad.
19. Give back to your community
20. Your words can carry more weight than you intend; choose wisely
21. Get out of your comfort zone every now and again
22. Share your wisdom and mentor others
23. Celebrate your accomplishments, whether big or small
24. Think positive!
25. Do the right thing for no other reason than its the right thing to do.
26. LAUGH!
27. Character is a quality that is proven and earned over a period of time so make each decision count
28. Keep little problems little so that they do not morph into bigger problems (thanks Dad!)
29. Love what you do
30. Look forward in anticipation for all that waits you)

About the author, Gretchen

I am a teacher trainer and coach. Working elbow to elbow with teachers and teacher leaders to ensure instructional proficiency and student achievement soar lights me up. We have a real need in our nation for strong educators to remain in the field. My blog, book, podcast, courses and instructional materials are geared towards empowering teachers (and those that lead them) to receive the support needed to grow and thrive today, tomorrow and always.