It’s been 35 years since John Randolph began teaching.
His secret to longevity? An ever-evolving curriculum and the variety of positions he’s held have made the passage of three decades or so anything but tiresome. Even something as simple as moving into a new classroom this year helps stave off monotony.
“The curriculum helps to keep things different,” says Randolph, a fourth grade teacher at Greenwood Elementary. “You’re continually studying. This year is different than last year.”
That includes learning new teaching strategies, whether it’s the use of more hands-on math materials or teaching in ways that utilize students’ different learning styles, he says.
Randolph has also enjoyed the range of jobs he’s held during the years, which includes being an assistant principal for about 17 years in Des Moines Public Schools, and various teaching positions.
“Even after 35 years, it’s not boring,” he says.
But he adds that while modifications in curriculum have been beneficial, they also require a lot of work.
“A big challenge is to plan and prepare and evaluate the curriculum and students’ progress,” says Randolph, who teaches everything from math and writing to social sciences.
With so much work to do, finding a balance between your job and personal life can be tough, but Randolph says to avoid burnout, “You do have to learn how to balance your time for your personal things you enjoy doing.”
It’s a happy medium that Randolph seems to have found. He says he always thought he’d be in the profession for the long haul and isn’t surprised he’s stuck with it.
The biggest change he’s seen over the years is technology. He remembers when he got his first computer in his classroom, and then being able to hook it up to the television. His students today enjoy the use of a computer lab, and Randolph and teachers at his school have iPads.
What he enjoys most includes seeing students learn new skills and using them in different settings, as well as “seeing that they’re growing and making progress,” he says.