Teaching at the Secondary Level: Wisdom from Veteran Health Educators

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This qualitative study explored factors that helped veteran public school health educators sustain enthusiasm in the classroom throughout their careers. Twelve Caucasian participants, seven men and five women with 18 to 28 years of public school teaching experience (mean age = 49 years, mean experience = 24 years), were interviewed. Participants were selected from teachers with at least 18 years experience who lived within 60 minutes of Salt Lake City, Utah. Semi-structured, individual interviews addressed four questions: Why did participants enter teaching? What are some challenges of teaching? What factors contribute to successful teaching? What factors contributed to participants' longevity in teaching? A decision to teach was based primarily on having an influential teacher. The greatest challenges were discipline and diversity. Factors related to successful teaching also contributed to longevity in teaching. These factors included staying current with information and technology, supportive colleagues, and sharing oneself with students and colleagues. Those interested in a teaching career, and those already invested in teaching, can learn from these veterans in terms of skills and values.