When a candle burns cold: How you know you shouldn’t be teaching any more

13723EA1-B2AC-41DA-910B-E9D597619D4BSo recently, after a full day’s work in front of 28  10 and 11 year-olds, I trekked across to the other side of town to see a guy called Mike Nagel talk about Neuroscience and its applications to education. I did it because I love to learn. I’m fascinated by novel insights and crave in myself those elusive aha! moments that are a sign that you’ve discovered something new.

But, do other teachers also love learning?

Well… there was a secondary school within metres of the one where the PD was held. How many teachers from that school do you think turned up, candles of learning burning hot?


Which makes me wonder- how can you tell when a teacher’s candle is burning cold? I don’t think you can tell just by looking. The flame might look hot, sound hot, give off every indication that it is hot. But really, it went cold long ago.

Here are what I think are some telltale signs that you need to make a change:

1. Firstly, if you lose patience quickly and you yell at students, you either need a break or you need to go. Treat yourself, stat! https://ateacherislikeacandle.wordpress.com/2020/08/23/first-aid-for-teachers/

2. If you wake up each morning with a sense of dread and struggle to drag yourself out of bed- knowing that your little cherubs can’t wait to see your face- delve into why that might be. Illness? Depression? Or a sign that it’s time for a career change?

3. If you are no longer willing to change classrooms, year levels, schools and curriculums without moaning every step of the way and, worse, taking it out on your colleagues or your class…. you may be the weakest link.

4. When a kid smiles at you, gives you a hand-written note, card or artwork, or an amazing rock that they found in the playground, and it no longer makes you feel warm inside, it may be time to consider retirement.

5. When you can no longer laugh at yourself or be a bit silly every now and then; if you’ve lost your sense of humour, teaching may no longer be for you.


Want to read more of my thoughts and ideas on all things teaching? Check out “A Teacher is like a Candle” on Facebook 🙂

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