Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Post – What I Wish I Knew Then by Pete Springer

Delighted to welcome Pete Springer today with a guest post that I think you will all enjoy especially as like me it is something you might also have wished for at some point in your life.

What I Wish I Knew Then

Sometimes I feel like one of the luckiest people on Earth. I was born into a stable family with great parents and three terrific older brothers. I married a great lady, and we have an adult son who is making his mark in the world. We’re proud of the man he has become. My career as an elementary teacher was rewarding, and I’m filled with pride as I watch many of my former students doing extraordinary things.

One of the things I’ve noticed about myself is that I tend to be more philosophical as I get older. Maybe that’s a symptom of having more time on my hands. It doesn’t necessarily mean I’m any smarter, but I do find myself thinking about some of the lessons I’ve learned.

If I could have one do-over in life, it would be my high school years. After a happy childhood, we moved cross-country to California when I was starting high school. Maybe it was the combination of being at an awkward age, moving to a new place, and not having the self-confidence to embrace new challenges at the time, but those years weren’t a particularly happy time. I wasn’t depressed, but I wasn’t joyful either.

High school was cliquish, and for a guy who didn’t fit in any of the groups, I found that I kept to myself more and didn’t have a lot of close friendships.

Around the time I turned eighteen, I made a thoughtful decision to expand my horizons and to get out of my comfort zone. No more playing it safe and always resorting to only familiar and comfortable things.

I found my true self during college. I tried new things with enthusiasm and put forth the best version of myself. Not every unique experience turned out the way I hoped it would, but I was no longer living in fear. Those feelings of empowerment made me feel better about myself, and people accepted me for me.

I went from a scared teenager to a confident adult—someone who could stand in front of a group of people and command their attention with an outgoing and fearless persona. Don’t get me wrong—I still am fearful in many situations, but I’ve learned that we feel best about ourselves when we embrace new challenges.

Why am I thinking about this today? Perhaps it’s because I’ve just accomplished one of my goals—the completion of the first draft of a middle-grade chapter book.

While I was teaching, one of my favorite things to do during a typical school day was to read to my students. Each day I got to be a performer and act out the voices of the authors’ characters. I could be brash, silly, humble, mean, or any other characteristic that I imagined the author intended. It was a rush to hook the kids into the plots and the characters. I always tried to leave them begging for more. “Don’t stop! Keep reading!” Those phrases were music to my ears.

When I was teaching, I made a decision that I was going to try and write a children’s book to recapture that feeling. Having taught many ages, I decided to target those children I was most familiar with—middle grades. After first writing a combination memoir/advice book for new teachers, I decided the time was right. I went to a writer’s conference, found a critique group, and I’m going for it. What started as a vision of 30,000 words became 50,000 when I finished the first draft.

I’m a realist—maybe this will never come to fruition, but I’m proud of myself for having the courage to go for it. Now I’ve moved into the rewriting and editing phases, and there’s still a ton of work ahead. While I self-published my first book, I’m inclined to try and go the traditional publishing route this time. I know—much longer odds and a lot more time to make it happen. (But hey, I’m retired.) If it doesn’t happen, at least I’ll have the satisfaction of knowing I didn’t stand on the sidelines, and I gave myself a chance. Perhaps this will be too preachy for some, but my advice as a sixty-year-old to that scared teenager is, “Don’t let fear hold you back.”

©Pete Springer

About Pete Springer

My name is Pete Springer. I taught elementary school for thirty-one years (grades 2-6) at Pine Hill School in Eureka, CA. Even though I retired over two years ago, my passion will always lie with supporting education, kids, and teachers.

When I came out of the teaching program many years ago, I realized how unprepared I was for what was in store for me in the classroom. My college education focused mostly on learning theory rather than the practical day-to-day challenges that all teachers face. Thankfully, I had some great mentors to lean on to help support me in the early part of my career.

I have made it my mission to pay it forward to the next generation of teachers. I was a master teacher to four student teachers, and I have several former students who are now teachers, including one who teaches at my former elementary school. That is pretty cool!

About the book

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. This book is a must-read for all new teachers and those teachers that need a reminder they are human! Mr. Springer educates others in his easy-to-read, story-like, first-hand manuscript. You will laugh, cry, and get motivated to be the best educator you can. After reading this, I have a better outlook on relationships with my colleagues and am reminded to savor every moment. -Tami Beall (Principal, Pine Hill School)

One of the recent reviews for the book

“They Call Me Mom,” by Pete Springer is a real gem! Don’t be fooled by its easy readability; this book is jam-packed with powerful advice. What makes “They call Me Mom” so special? First, Pete Springer’s passion for teaching lights up the entire book. His core values are clearly articulated. But the real treasures in this book are revealed through thoughtful, funny, and honest anecdotes from his 30 year career.

Springer’s book is divided into the main issues faced by both new or experienced teachers: how to organize your class, work effectively with students and their families, and work collaboratively with colleagues. The chapters on frustrations and humorous events are yummy icing on the cake.

Pete Springer is not just a great teacher, he’s a natural writer. “They Call Me Mom” would make a perfect Christmas present for your teacher friends (or your kiddo’s teachers)! His blog is also a great read, with news about his successful efforts to publish, volunteer, and support educators. He tells some powerfully encouraging stories of the many reasons to be grateful in the midst of difficult circumstances.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

Connect to Pete

Website: Pete Springer WordPress
Facebook: Pete Springer
Twitter: @OfficerWoof

My thanks to Pete for his motivation to put into motion things that we might have been putting off for one reason or another. 2020 is an open book… just waiting for us to write on the empty pages.

56 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Post – What I Wish I Knew Then by Pete Springer

  1. Some of my best memories of junior school are of the story at the end of the day – I loved hearing The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe and Just William. That is something all children can enjoy however they are coping with the rest of school. One day I’m sure Pete will be visiting his old school to read his book.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I grew up very differently but feel just as blessed. Not having much money and only raised by my mother allowed me to appreciate the little things in life. Fresh bread was not a popular item in our home but just having it in our cupboard was enough to satisfy our hunger. Love your blog. Wish you all the best!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Good luck with the new book. I loved it when our teacher read to us on a Friday afternoon – best part of the week. I think there must be a reason most of us go through those years of self doubt, lack of confidence, the feelings of not fitting in, not knowing what the future holds. We get there in the end – just wish it happened a bit sooner!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Our lives have many similarities. I hated the cliques of my all-female high school. I determined to succeed and was the first in my family to attend college and then graduate school. My career took me into education and administration. Now I am combining my two passions of history and love of teaching by writing children’s nonfiction, history books that make learning about history fun. The best of luck to you with the new book! I wish you much success.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you so much for the opportunity to reach a larger audience, Sally. You may remember me saying this before—I see many similarities between teachers and bloggers. People look out for one another, and that is a beautiful characteristic of each.

    I’ve known you for less than a year, but you are a role model of sorts for me—not only as a teacher but in the way you conduct yourself with others. Thank you for providing this forum for so many others.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is a great post, Pete. I recall our teacher reading The Yearling to us. It made such an impact on me. Congrats on getting the first draft of your book completed. All the hard work will be worth it when you hold that book in your hand and visit schools to read it to the students.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Great advice. How many times have we all played that, ‘if I had my time over again’ game! Good luck with your new book; it sounds as though you have the passion , as well as the skill, to get there!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. My early years in school are quite hazy not unhappy but through my school life, I always felt I was on the outside looking in the same at home really …I had a happy childhood no dramas but was always different from my doll loving sisters…I loved history and books about flora and illustrated my text for history and biology/geography assignments beautifully always A+…but girls just got married and had children was that end goal everything seemed to point at that in my mind…Which I did and then I met my friend and mentor Gilly saviour a stern, career woman with a wicked sense of humour who went full steam ahead through life and took me with her…The rest is history…A lovely post-Pete I already follow you and am a great admirer…You rock my friend 🙂 x

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    • From a teacher’s perspective, you were the kind of student who made things fun. It’s those free thinkers and those who thought outside the box types that I found the most interesting to teach.

      Sometimes I’d hold a debate in my room about some topic as I was always trying to teach my students to be open-minded enough to listen to somebody else’s view, which differed from their own.

      One of the leading industries in our area is logging, and quite often, this industry is at odds with environmentalists. Many of the children had parents who worked in logging mills, and they were pro-logging. I still remember one of the girls in the class espousing an environmentalist’s point of view, and she stood up to the outspoken majority. What impressed me the most was, not her viewpoint, but the way that she was not intimidated by others. That student could have been you, Carol.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Fabulous post, Sally! Pete is one of my favorite bloggers, and for good reasons – he writes from the heart and has a wealth of wisdom to share from his many years of teaching. He understands that we are lifelong learners, and that there is much children can teach us. Thank you for sharing his post!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I found your post so interesting, Pete, partly because my older son is not very sociable or keen to try anything outside his comfort zone, other than in academics in which he excels. You have given me some hope that this may change when he goes to Uni. I am looking forward to your children’s book.

    Liked by 2 people

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