Today it is my great pleasure to introduce you to Pete Springer. Pete was a classroom teacher for over thirty years. When he retired, he decided to share his experiences and wisdom with others who may be at different stages of their teaching journey. His book is a pleasure to read. He writes from the heart and every teacher will find something within the pages of his book with which they can identify or/and learn from. It will have you nodding your head in agreement, inspire an ‘aha’ moment, make you laugh and make you cry. From when you open the book until you close it, you will know that this is the honest voice of an authentic teacher who made, and continues to make, a positive difference to the lives of others.
About Pete Springer
Hi Pete, welcome to readilearn. Before we begin the interview, please tell us a little about yourself.
I taught elementary school (grades 2-6) for thirty-one years at Pine Hill School in Eureka, California. I loved everything about being a teacher, and I want to be a role model for the next generation of teachers the way others inspired me to want to become a teacher. I was a master teacher to four student teachers. I was chosen for the Excellence in Teaching Award in 2006. That is an annual award recognizing ten top teachers in the county. I belong to the Humboldt County Children’s Author Festival Committee which brings in twenty-five nationally known children’s authors to speak to children in over eighty schools in the county. My future goal is to write books for middle-grades.
About the book They Call Me Mom — the blurb
Who Will You Inspire Today? Teachers face this challenge and responsibility each day, but in the process, the author discovers that his students can also have a profound influence on him. Pete Springer takes you on his memorable thirty-one-year journey in education as an elementary school teacher and offers the many valuable life and teaching lessons he learned along the way. Get ready to laugh out loud at some of the humorous and memorable experiences that all teachers face, feel inspired by the inherent goodness of children, and appreciate the importance of developing a sense of teamwork among the staff. Learn valuable tips for working with children, parents, fellow staff members, and administrators. This book is ideal for young teachers, but also a reminder to all educators of the importance and responsibility of being a role model.
Pete, the title of your book is a great hook. Please tell us about the title and where it came from.
Anyone who has taught elementary school before has been called “Mom.” It happens quite regularly. Sometimes kids catch themselves saying it, but often they don’t. When students referred to me as “Mom,” I never corrected them because I believe it was the ultimate compliment to be thought of as a mother.
You were a classroom teacher for many years. When you retired, you wrote a book about your experiences as a teacher. Is this something that you decided only after retirement or had you been planning it for some time?
It was never something I had planned to do. It started first as a journal as a type of debriefing period after I retired. I had some fantastic role models while I was teaching, and at some point, I decided that I wanted to pass on what I’d learned to the next generation of teachers. My only regret is that I did not write down some of my experiences right after they happened. Even after my book was published, I’ll think of something else that I could have included.
There are many teachers who, when they retire, walk away and never look back. But you decided to share your experiences. Why did you feel it was important to do so?
I describe teaching as the hardest and most rewarding job I ever had. I wanted to share my experiences because future teachers should understand the responsibility and privilege of what it means to be an educator. It is an opportunity that many people will never get to experience. I look at education as an investment in the future as I know many of my students will go on to do extraordinary things in their lives.
Who is the target audience of your book and how do you hope they will feel as they read it?
My main audience is young teachers or those thinking about becoming a teacher. I have had many experienced teachers tell me that they have found lots of valuable ideas, too. Another large group who might find the book helpful are parents, particularly in the area of discipline. I hope that most people who read my book will find that there are plenty of things they are doing right, but there is always room to improve as an educator or parent. It’s impossible never to make a mistake, but wise people can learn from the experiences of others.
What is your #1 message for teachers who are just embarking on their career?
Don’t beat yourself up when you have a bad day. Even the best teachers can have days that don’t go smoothly. Realize that education works best when you view yourself as part of a team. Collaborating with other teachers lifts your morale and makes you a better teacher. Find positive people and mentors in your school to emulate and stay away from those teachers who are negative.
What is your #1 message for teachers who are further into their career?
Continue to grow as a teacher by learning new teaching methods. No one ever masters everything. Consider being a mentor for student teachers as you have a wealth of experience to share with others. Don’t be afraid to change grade levels as new challenges are often good for us.
What is your #1 message for teachers who are considering retirement?
Don’t become that teacher who hangs on too long if you’re not enjoying teaching. Take a careful look at yourself each year to make sure that you are still up to the task physically and emotionally. Do you still get excited the week before school starts about having a new group of children to teach and bond with? While I loved everything about being a teacher, it took retirement to realize what a workaholic I had become.
Would you like to share a highlight of your career?
It’s hard to pick one highlight because there have been so many. The one thing that gives me the most satisfaction is when students I taught many years ago continue to reach out to me to let me know of their accomplishments. It is their way of saying thank you, and they want their teachers to know how much they appreciate what you did for them. When I see former students who are contributing something valuable to society with their careers, as parents, and in their communities, I feel a tremendous sense of pride.
What things did you find most difficult about being a teacher?
One of the most challenging things to come to grips with is that there are children who don’t have good role models in their homes to guide them. You see untapped potential in some children who you know will be fine if they can overcome all of the dysfunction in their family environments. Another thing that can drive you crazy at times is the disproportionate amount of time and energy some schools put into doing well on standardized tests. We can’t expect students to care about testing when their lives have so much chaos. Our most important role is to create a safe and loving environment for our students rather than worrying about our test scores.
What things did you find to be the most rewarding?
The most rewarding things come in your students’ accomplishments in life. Sometimes you don’t get to see these rewards for many years. I take particular pride in knowing that several of my former students became teachers. I had the pleasure of teaching with one of my former students in the last five years of my career.
As you look back on your career from retirement, how do you feel about what you achieved?
I’m proud of myself and my profession. Being a teacher requires a lot of heart and belief, but it is worth the effort. Some of our students will become the leaders of tomorrow and go on to do great things because some of their teachers inspired them.
Retirement, of course, is not the end, it is but a change in direction. What are your plans for your future?
I will be a lifelong supporter of education, literacy, children, and teachers. I will continue to volunteer in schools on a limited basis. My favorite daily activity as a teacher was to read aloud to children and imagine how authors intended their characters to sound. Retirement has allowed me to try new things. My dream is to write books for middle-grades. I’ve taken some writing workshops, joined a critique group, and I’m in the process of revising my first children’s novel. It is about a seventh-grade boy who is struggling with his parents’ recent separation while navigating typical middle-school problems (girls, peer pressure, fitting in, etc.). I’m having so much fun trying something new.
Thank you, Pete. It’s been a pleasure to have you here today. I never turn down an opportunity to discuss education, particularly with teachers as passionate about children and learning as you. I’m sure everyone will join with me in wishing you success in all your plans for retirement. May it be long, enjoyable and productive.
View the trailer of They Call Me Mom by Pete Springer.
Purchase your copy of They Call Me Mom from
Outskirts Press https://outskirtspress.com/theycallmemom
Find out more about Pete Springer
on his blog Blog https://petespringerauthor.wordpress.com/
or connect with him on social media
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