Kids may spend the better part of 12 years inside a classroom as students, but teachers can spend three times as long in those classrooms over their careers.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that a great deal of learning takes place at the head of the class.
Business Insider spoke with a handful of retired teachers from across the country to better understand what lessons students have passed on to them over the years.
Here are their responses.
Schargel taught at New York City high schools. He said he spent eight of those years teaching in high-poverty, high-minority schools.
One of the biggest lessons he learned was that kids could persevere in spite of some pretty overwhelming circumstances.
'They are survivors,' Schargel told Business Insider, 'surviving obstacles like drugs, violence, alcoholic parents that I could not. They are adaptable. They are creative. They are flexible learning how to go around barriers rather than crashing into them.'
Growing up, Wozniak said her approach to learning new things was to read the directions and follow orders. But her middle schoolers in Flanders, New Jersey often reminded her that exploration can work just as well.
'I did not grow up with technology,' Wozniak told Business Insider. 'The kids taught me that you will learn faster and it is more enjoyable to just dig in with curiosity and experimentation. There is nothing to fear!'
She said the kids' natural drive to ask questions was a trait all educators should stoke in their students.
As a history teacher in Westport, Connecticut, Baumann said he learned the importance of collaborating with students instead of being an authoritarian. The lesson came from watching students interact with one another, which he said helped him become better at teaching and interacting with colleagues.
'(The students) underscored the power and significance of human connections and how critical positive and productive professional relationships are for learning to thrive,' he told Business Insider.
He also said the variety of aptitudes and skillsets among his students taught him that intelligence isn't a black-or-white issue; certain kids are merely better suited to certain kinds of instruction.
Over her 20-year stint as a teacher in Waltham, Massachusetts, Allen said students taught her the power of 'self-expectations.'
In other words, if kids thought they were capable of excellence, they tried harder to achieve it.
'I learned from these students that if we (teachers, family members, other adults, but especially teachers) expect little from our students, we will get little from them as a result,' she told Business Insider. 'And when I understood this, I realised that my job as a teacher was to turn this around.'
For much of his time as an English teacher in California, Sonntag said he never gave students credit for completing their homework. He only gave failing grades to those who didn't.
One day a student suggested he start giving those students credit. Quickly he began making an effort to be more caring in all other aspects of his teaching.
'I learned that students deserve to be heard and to be seen,' he told Business Insider. 'While this may seem so obvious because we all wish to be heard and to be seen, for me, it also meant to do this and to be flexible, when and if a situation would arise that the students needed to vent. Thus, they knew that I was a caring person who would listen.'
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