The Learning Curve

January 27, 2017

I’ve been lucky enough to have some interesting jobs in my life.  In high school, I worked in the retail side of a farmer’s market. In college, I spent some summers volunteering as a missionary repairing houses. I’ve stocked shelves in big box home improvement stores. I’ve dispatched trucks on delivery routes. I’ve been a high school English teacher for 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, and AP courses. I’ve also taught teachers, PreK-12, about technology. And that’s the short list – I know that I’ve done things and had jobs that I have forgotten about. Every job I’ve ever had presented its own unique challenges. Each one required a new skill set, often in wildly different areas. All of them also required that I learn how to do them while I was working – on the job training. On the job training is great, but when you’re facing a trucker or customer or a student or a parent, they don’t care if it’s your first day or your 500th, they only want you to do your job effectively and efficiently. That can be hard when you’re new, but it is also incredibly motivating. Nothing pushes me more or faster than screwing up (I just hope my students never noticed).

I am, without any doubt, most proud of having been a teacher. I like to think I was pretty good at teaching. I like to think that I had an impact on their lives in some small way. A little while ago, I ran into a former student, she is doing her student teaching and she said she thinks back to how I ran my classroom while she’s running hers. That was an amazing compliment. I have former students that I’ve run into who now work in retail, who now repair houses, who now work in big box home improvement stores, who now dispatch trucks, I have students who now teach English and some that are about to start teaching. I have one more lesson for them.

It takes a while to become good at a task. In fact, Malcolm Gladwell writes that it takes 10,000 hours to achieve mastery in his book Outliers. Not everyone agrees with Gladwell, but for this blog entry, let’s accept that as true, that it takes 10,000 hours to achieve mastery in a skill. Let’s break that down: 10,000 hours means that a person would have to work non-stop for 417 days straight to achieve mastery. 10,000 hours means that if you are in front of students for about 6 hours every school day, you will become comfortable with teaching after about 9 years. It takes a while to get past that learning curve, but getting there is the fun part. And like any good teacher knows, the lesson isn’t always for the students, this one is for me too. Learning to do something new is fun.


Tyler is one of the newest team members at SchoolStatus. Hailing from the DeSoto County School District, and a SchoolStatus user before he was an employee, Tyler brings real understanding of educator needs to his official #datanerd position. Want Tyler to come visit your school? Click HERE! 

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