Back to the Classroom

It’s true. I’ve accepted a half-time teaching position. Beach time is over my friends. Okay, I was only at the beach for 4 days, but you get my meaning. Life is about to get busy!

So am I still going to write books? You bet, I am! I’ll still have half a day. What do you think I’d spend that time doing? Eating bon-bons? I don’t even have any bon-bons.

But seriously, I’m super excited about this opportunity to return to the classroom. I have a lot of experience teaching–15 years. (To some of you that’s nowhere near how many years you have in the classroom, and my hat is off to you. Well done!) It has been a while though. I’m sure some things have changed, though in the study of English/Language Arts, much has remained the same.

I thought I’d entertain you with a little list of things I believe about the classroom and students today. It might not be what you hear on the news. There are a lot of misconceptions out there, in my opinion. So what have I got?

  • Students still say “yes, ma’am.” That might be a southern thing. Or a country thing. But they do. Every now and then they’ll even smile at you.
  • Whether it’s done on a piece of paper or a computer, it’s still writing. It’s still learning to string words together, and it’s certainly a skill that can be taught.
  • Preparing for a test isn’t the same as “teaching to the test.” A standardized test is simply a way of knowing if you have taught your students the right thing and if they have learned it. Since we can see previously released tests, I’ve never really struggled with that. And I’ve been thrilled at my students’ success.
  • High schoolers are still kids. Yes, they may drive. Yes, some of them are struggling with difficult family situations. But they’re teenagers. They want you to say “good morning” to them or “well” done” or even “cool haircut.” I think we all enjoy those things.
  • Phones are everywhere. They are! When I taught high school before about half the students had cell phones. Now everyone does! Hopefully we can come to an agreement on their “proper use” early in the semester.
  • Reading is still a very special thing. One of my favorite moments in the classroom is when the dismissal bell rings and the entire class groans because we’re in the middle of a great part of a book and they don’t want to stop reading. (I plan it to happen that way.) I absolutely love that they can still be moved by a story.
  • The most important thing is respect. If I can convince students that I respect them, and if I can encourage them to respect me, I think we’ll be all right.

I’m looking forward to this adventure! It’ll be a challenge to balance teaching in the mornings and writing in the afternoons, but I also think it will be a fun change. And it’ll supply me with a lot of characters to include in my books. I have been known to say to a student “Don’t make me kill you off in my next novel,” which they absolutely love to hear.

What about you? What do you think about students or classrooms today? Leave me a comment. I’d love to hear from you.


  1. Clare O'Beara on July 7, 2023 at 5:55 am

    I am sure the fact that you are a writer will be educational in itself for young people.

  2. Doris H Lankford on July 7, 2023 at 5:59 am

    I am not a teacher and have never been one. I do admire those who choose to teach because I think kids today are not as respectful as they used to be.
    Good Luck with your students and your busy schedule.

  3. Anne+Rightler on July 7, 2023 at 6:01 am

    Not having been in the classroom in quite a while, I don’t have much of an opinion about students or classrooms. 5 of our 10 grandkids are home or cyber schooled. Our newest daughter-in-law just finished her last year of teaching (Lord willing and the creek don’t rise!) She is pregnant with #11! And they plan to homeschool their children. I love your comment about the kids groaning when the bell rings when I’m the middle of a good book. Blessings on your teaching year ahead.

  4. Lori Santimarino on July 7, 2023 at 6:12 am

    What I don’t like about some kids in school these days are the brats that think or perhaps have gotten away with things they do. Poor behavior or worse harassment to others whether harmless or harmful. Some don’t treat others like they expect to be treated by others. They shy quiet ones well they just need that special someone to stand by their side and slowly pry to backwardness out and be their friend. There are always reasons why they are being so quiet, perhaps even because of home life. Well I’ve chatted long enough now I could go on and on. Best wishes on teaching and keep those books coming. God Bless

  5. Marilyn+Messmann on July 7, 2023 at 6:35 am

    I have never been a teacher, but I was a cafeteria manager for30 years in an elementary school. I have a lot of respect for all of you, as I saw how you interactive with the students at lunch time. I think all the students will learn something from you. Good luck.
    Marilyn from Indiana.

  6. Karen S on July 7, 2023 at 6:52 am

    I was a Paraprofessional for 22 years. I left school last August to take watch my first grandbaby while his parents work. I loved working with kindergartners, but am very happy with my new “position”. You will do great and the kids will be blessed to have you teaching them.

  7. Susan Fletcher on July 7, 2023 at 7:02 am

    I just retired from teaching – 39 years in 3rd grade at the elementary school I attended, as well as my Dad, who is almost 99. (new school now) Every year was a blessing and a challenge. I know I’ll miss the kids and teaching, but now it’s time to devote time to my Dad and help other elderly people.
    Students have definitely changed since I started teaching. Even 3rd graders have smart watches now, as well as phones. I had to learn all the new technology stuff during the pandemic, but it was fun! I think there’s a time and place for everything – old and new.
    Congrats on your new job! Hope you love it and still have time for the things you want and need to do.

  8. Tammy Layton on July 7, 2023 at 7:05 am

    I was a preschool teacher and I loved it. I had to retire due to a brain aneurysm and I miss it every day. My passion is reading and I hope I’ve passed it on to some of my students. Love reading your books and congratulations on your new job.

  9. Connie R. on July 7, 2023 at 7:20 am

    All I can say about students is what I have observed in my three grandchildren who are still in school…one middle school and two high schoolers. Two different states, two different school systems, three different learning styles and personalities. But the Covid years were really hard on them socially, intellectually and emotionally. One of them has learning challenges that were not really addressed correctly and she is struggling to recover and progress. They are all working so hard! But I am amazed at the things that light these kids up and allow them to release their passion for life. I am learning to listen and respect how they feel. And I feel blessed that they will talk to me about their interests and conflicts.
    Congratulations on your new challenge. Hopefully it will give you the creative mindset you are seeking, and a new zest for writing!

  10. Suzanne Sellner on July 7, 2023 at 7:32 am

    Having retired from teaching full time, I’m still teaching part time. I tutor a homeschooled middle schooler in French, I tutor two Indian young people in English as I edit their papers, and I teach reading and math to children at an after-school tutoring business. In my full-time teaching career, I taught in public, private Christian, and homeschool co-op situations. I’m loving working with students one-on-one since I’m able to help them learn. Because of my advanced age, I don’t have the energy to teach full-time anymore. While I don’t particularly miss the dynamics of a classroom with various behavior issues that inevitably arise, I love the tutoring dynamics.

    I admire you for returning to the classroom. As an author and former teacher, you have experience that will be valuable in the classroom and will inspire awe in your students! Best wishes for a great school year!

  11. Marilyn on July 7, 2023 at 7:42 am

    I retired from teaching pre pandemic after 25 years as did my husband. Teaching is a calling for sure. We both taught Elementary. (He-lower, myself-middle to upper). Kids are kids. The world may have changed/expanded but, Curiosity is still there as well as a desire to learn and/or be successful. The climate you foster in your classroom of humor, respect, and exploration will be noted by your students. Good luck. You’ve got this!

  12. Melissa Henderson on July 7, 2023 at 7:52 am

    I enjoyed teaching preschool classes and then, substitute teaching in elementary school. I was asked to sub in middle and high school, but my passion was with the younger kids. I greeted each child with a smile every morning and said, “I’m so glad you are here today.” That little bit of joy brought many smiles to the kids. I also tried to remember that each child had a different life circumstance at home and each child should be shown love. 🙂 Congratulations on going back to teaching. You will be a blessing to those young ones. 🙂

  13. Joyce Vough on July 7, 2023 at 8:02 am

    I believe teachers are the Hope for the future. Kids need to learn how to make it as adults. Their most important people besides parents are the teachers.

    I watched my granddaughter blossom during the school year and I am awed at how far she’s come.

    I am totally pleased for you that you are going back into teaching. We need great teachers for our kids.

  14. Audrey Wick on July 7, 2023 at 8:31 am

    Vannetta, what a surprise indeed! I am thrilled for you, and I really enjoyed reading this post. Your students are so lucky to have you: a USA Today bestselling author . . . a writing teacher who writes professionally . . . someone who is rooting for them . . . You’re a rockstar! 🙂

    I love that you wrote “Reading is still a very special thing.” FOR SURE! Students who experience that are given a lifetime gift. So good of you to approach the classroom in all these positive ways, and best of luck, from one teacher to another!

  15. Debbie Earls on July 7, 2023 at 8:42 am

    I have a lot of respect for teachers. I think teaching today is more challenging than it’s ever been. Have fun in your new job!

  16. Lori Wilen on July 7, 2023 at 8:42 am

    Wow! This is a big change for you and a surprise. The school and your students are getting a real somebody special…a bestselling author who is still currently writing with a huge fan base coming to teach them English. I hope these students realize just how lucky they are to be taught by you. One of my best friends is a math teacher in Pennsylvania and each week when we Zoom she tells me snippets of things that happen at school. She said that the school was changing, well the students were….less respect for the teachers, phones out all the time, etc. She says since Covid and the time they were off students are even wilder. Now this is her experience and is not necessarily true for all teachers all over the USA. I wish you tons and tons of good wishes and luck for this new venture and I hope that you will keep us updated. Never stop writing please Vannetta. Your books, no matter the series are absolutely amazing and awesome reads and I look forward to each and every one of them.

  17. Terry Collum on July 7, 2023 at 9:13 am

    They will have an amazing teacher and learn a lot for sure. I am hoping and praying things go smooth in the class. I know a lot of schools have issues with students showing lack of respect for the teacher and or school, but I hate it when every kid is lumped under one stereotype. The door has been opened for you to walk through so there has to be a reason be it for the kids or be it for you. You will be in my prayers and thoughts.

  18. Eugenia on July 7, 2023 at 9:22 am

    May the LORD use you greatly with your students.

  19. Cindy on July 7, 2023 at 9:57 am

    You go Girl! I retired a few years ago and am back tutoring English, MS programs and more at our local community college, 2 or 3 days a week. I love the work and the paycheck too. Quite a few students call me Miss Cindy which I think is adorable, however, even though these are college students, I don’t see the level of respect I thought I would. It’s okay because I love my students and show respect, so am hoping it pays forward. Have fun and GOD bless!

  20. Gail Hollingsworth on July 7, 2023 at 10:01 am

    I have family in the classroom. My daughter is a speech language pathologist in an elementary school, her husband teaches 6th grade science in a middle school and my daughter in law was a school librarian until the Lord led her to pursue a law degree. She will be starting her 3rd and final year next month.
    Some of my fondest memories are from elementary school. I still remember the names of all 6 of my teachers. I did substitute in an elementary lunchroom for a while and enjoyed seeing all the kids come through.

  21. Deanna Koontz on July 7, 2023 at 10:04 am

    Wishing you many blessings on your new teaching journey. I admire teachers. Can’t imagine being brave enough to do that job myself. 🤣

  22. Kendra Muonio on July 7, 2023 at 10:20 am

    I helped my cousin with her preschool for a few years but then I got burned out and then COVID hit so she doesn’t do it anymore.

  23. GrannyV on July 7, 2023 at 10:48 am

    I’m not a teacher, but I was a teachers aid for awhile in a one room school. I found that the kids were pretty good, an occasional incident but the other kids usually handled it. I found that there was more problems with the parents.

  24. Marjorie Bena on July 7, 2023 at 11:02 am

    I think that’s wonderful. Will you be having the students write a short story during the semester. I remember doing so in High School English. It was so much FUN!! It was many years ago but I remember the entire story. I give teachers alot of credit for educating students. A very important job for sure. Wishing you a great teaching experience.

  25. Vickie Waters on July 7, 2023 at 11:13 am

    First of all, congratulations on your new job. I’m excited for you.

    I think your position about showing respect for your students and them, in turn, showing respect for you, is so true. Good luck!

  26. Kay Garrett on July 7, 2023 at 11:19 am

    Congratulations on your new endeavor! Imagine it’s been hard to give up on something you really loved doing. Doing it the way you are going to seems like the best of both worlds.

    I would imagine that it’s harder on both students and teachers with the boundaries some what blurred in today’s times. When I was a kid, yes way too many years to count, we knew what we could do and couldn’t do and the consequences if we didn’t stay within them. Now when punishment is so slack and everyone has to win, I would think that the waters get murky with all the rules in place. As far as kids go, they always have been and will be young people trying their wings to see what they can do – and get away with. May be a bit more dangerous now, but even in my day some did go “wild” and it’s a wonder we all didn’t come with more injuries and reminders of the past than we did.

  27. Ruthann Dulaney on July 7, 2023 at 11:24 am

    My daughter is a Kindergarten teacher. Every year the first month is a challenge until the students learn the routine. She loves teaching the little ones. People say, It must be nice to have the whole summer off. No, they don’t have the whole summer off. My daughter is already working on things getting ready for school to start and it’s only the first of July.

  28. Patricia Brooks on July 7, 2023 at 12:11 pm

    I was a daycare teacher for a while, until I had kids. Now I wonder about what they want teachers to teach kids these days and am thankful that I homeschooled my kids.

  29. Diana Foust on July 7, 2023 at 1:02 pm

    I agree with most of what you say. I think a “phone policy” will be important. I use a computer everyday and like them. However, there is something very satisfying about handwriting. I write daily (well sometimes I make notes and write several days later) in a journal, and I like that. I would not, however, write a book without a computer. If I write a long letter it is on the computer but not short notes. That is a long way of saying I think writing is important. One should earn their place in heaven for teaching the love of reading. 🙂

  30. Lynette on July 7, 2023 at 1:20 pm

    I really admire you. I was so relieved when my youngest graduated from high school in May. He’s a great writer, but a perfectionist and struggled with English classes because he didn’t think he could write “perfectly”. I’m so grateful for patient teachers!

  31. Cindy on July 7, 2023 at 1:57 pm

    I actually know very little about teaching but I wish I had a teacher like you in my younger days!

  32. Cindy on July 7, 2023 at 1:59 pm

    You must be an excellent teacher

  33. Joan on July 7, 2023 at 2:18 pm

    Congratulations . Kids are not respective of authority like they were when I was in school. Wish you all the best.

  34. Jan on July 7, 2023 at 3:37 pm

    My husband drives school bus and he prefers his high school run to his elementary run. A kindergartener dropping the f-bomb and backtalking. No respect for authority.

  35. CELIA on July 7, 2023 at 3:58 pm

    I read the comments to your blog about how children have changed and I would like to say that teachers have evidently changed also. Granted, it has been a very long time since I was in school but school was not a place I ever enjoyed and I only remember one teacher I liked. He was my 6th grade teacher and he taught us how to draw trees with branches not just sticks with green circles. Part of my difficulty was probably due to extreme shyness. I was terrified to speak in front of the class. I even dropped out of my first time at college due to speech class. It was required and I had put it off as long as I could but finally was forced to take the class. My instructor criticized my speech because she said I had no confidence and tried to hide behind the podium… so…on my next speech I would have no podium. I never went back.
    Several years later, after discovering I could not support myself as a short order cook, I returned to college and graduated on the Dean’s list. (They didn’t require Speech)
    I think it is commendable that you actually seem to like your teenagers and enjoy your teaching skills. A good teacher creates interest and can open up a whole new world for students. God bless you, Vannetta, and may you be a blessing to those children.

  36. Karen on July 7, 2023 at 5:14 pm

    Congratulations! I know that the students who have you as a teacher will learn – Please teach them to check their work even if they are just texting. 🙂
    I have taught elementary grades and loved teaching but would probably be without a job within hours these days. Will pray for a successful year.

  37. Gloria A on July 7, 2023 at 5:17 pm

    I think there are so many changes in our culture these days that are disturbing. The social norms of respect fall short with children and adults sometimes. In our experience with our grandchildren the older teachers have more wisdom, experience, and patience. One of our grandson’s teachers is older and so much better at reading his needs and he has matured so much under her care and guidance. We are so blessed that he is looping with her this coming year.
    I wish you a wonderful school year! The students will be blessed to have you as their teacher.

  38. Hannah on July 7, 2023 at 8:16 pm

    I am a teacher too and I agree with what you said.

  39. Vickie J. on July 8, 2023 at 7:40 am

    School is definitely different these days! I wouldn’t want to be a teacher or a school bus driver, that’s for sure, so hat’s off to those that do those important jobs! I loved school. One year in high school, I think it was 11th grade, I had everything I needed to take but had one spot left to fill. I saw a class titled Reading for Pleasure so I asked my guidance counselor what it was. She said it was a class to encourage students to read. You read books and wrote book reports to show you’d read the book. My response was “You mean I get to read in class and get credit for it? Sign me up!” The only rule was that once you chose a book you had to finish it whether you liked it or not. My best friend recommended The Handmaid’s Tale. I didn’t like it but had to finish it anyway. Thanks for the chance to win a prize. Can’t wait to hear your classroom adventures!

  40. Jackie+Tessnair on July 8, 2023 at 2:09 pm

    I’m not a teacher but I sure admire you all. Classrooms are so much different from what I had when I was in school. Teachers are all some children have that pays them attention and cares if they learn or not. Thankful to all the teachers out there.

  41. Susan Heim on July 8, 2023 at 5:32 pm

    My sister just retired from teaching. Her problems were usually with the parents or administration (i.e., adults), not with the kids! They were usually the best part of teaching.

  42. SARAH TAYLOR on July 10, 2023 at 11:33 pm

    Congratulations and Good Luck!

  43. Patti Foster on July 11, 2023 at 9:59 pm

    I have great respect for teachers….my sister taught kindergarten for many years, and now is having fun as a classroom helper for her daughter, who will be starting her 4th year as an elementary teacher. I have observed their devotion to ‘their kids’ and have seen young adults greet my sister as a long lost friend ….they remember her as a favorite teacher! In fact, I think my niece has taught some of the kids of my sister’s students! Small world! I wish you the best of luck in returning to teaching ….nice that you are able to do part-time, because we are all counting on more new books! LOL!! I know teachers today face many challenges that earlier generations of teachers couldn’t imagine….our society has become very contentious, outspoken, and at times hateful. There is often little tolerance for different opinions, and much political and racial division. We all know this…we see it happening like watching a train wreck and unable to see how it can be fixed. But teachers are important in shaping future generations. And literature can open understanding and empathy. I remember being very moved by stories and poems that widened my thinking and understanding of the world. A good teacher can make a big difference!! I hope are blessed with an administration that supports it’s teachers and has their back, with parents who support you and have taught their kids respect, hard work, and about consequences for behavior. And lastly…..with students who are cooperative, respectful and have a thirst for learning. Go forth with confidence, embrace your love of teaching, and keep a good sense of humor! :-). I’m sure it will help!

  44. Jeanna Massman on July 16, 2023 at 7:04 am

    I retired after 25 years as an educator and I think the biggest misconception about teaching is that teachers are able to stop worrying about their students when they leave the school building.

  45. Vera Day on July 17, 2023 at 2:30 pm

    I just know you’re going to get your students excited about reading (if they aren’t already readers). Enjoy!

  46. dali castillo on July 17, 2023 at 8:09 pm

    I agree that the most important thing is respect, you for them and them for you. I also like saying, “Good morning,” “Cool haircut,” and anything that is a way to connect with them. One thing that was key for me was to always be real. Young people can spot fake a mile away.
    Anyway, Vannetta, I am excited for your return to the classroom. I think the teacher in us is always ready, so I know this will be awesome for you.

  47. Kathryn Clingenpeel on July 19, 2023 at 3:14 pm

    i love all your books I see i am one of the winners

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