Join Club

Honest Teacher: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly of First Quarter Woes

Honest Teacher Peter Bui logo

This sponsored column is written by Peter Bui, founder of The Honest Teacher. An Arlington native and former teacher, Peter offers private tutoring services that focus on the individual needs of students and emphasize the core values of confidence, independence and resilience.

The Good

Summer vacation was a blessing, a respite from the hours of instruction and following exhaustion, and every September was a fresh start. My expectations for the new year depended on the one before. If I had a good previous year with good students, then hopefully I’ll be lucky again. If I didn’t, then I was just thankful the previous year was over and there was the possibility of something better.

The Bad

So what’s a bad year? Well, I could say there are no bad years, since teaching is a rewarding profession that makes a difference in people’s lives, but that would be a lie. Some years were better than others and a bad year was one where the exhaustion outweighed the reward. A bad year was one where I was enforcing rules more than inspiring students, when I paid more attention to the things they did wrong than the things they did right. In that mindset, any year could have been a bad year.

The Ugly

One late October, after the enthusiasm of the new year wore off, I found myself scolding students rather than being patient. It was the second month in and I was done, frustrated that they weren’t behaving as I expected and annoyed it wasn’t easy like in previous years.

The next day I realized the ugly truth of berating students: it was cathartic but ultimately ineffective, they started to tune me out. I then realized the the ugly truth of summer vacation: it was a reset button. Some students had to get used to the expectations of proper behavior again. I thought I’d never say it, but I didn’t like summer vacation anymore. Well, just not as much.

The Better

It wasn’t fun being angry and I had eight months left, I had to find a better way. I was teaching psychology at the time and my research led me to Negativity Bias and Decision Fatigue. The misbehaving students had a greater effect on my mood than did the other students because of the brain’s negativity bias, the tendency for things of a negative nature to have more of an impact.

I was also tired by the end of the day and suffered from decision fatigue. The long day of decision making had worsened the quality of my decisions hence the scolding. To combat the negativity bias, I began smiling and laughing more to stay positive.

In order to manage the decision fatigue, I ate often to maintain my stamina and decreased the the number of decisions I made throughout the day. For example, I began using generic statements like “let’s make a better choice” to redirect students rather than choosing specific words for each situation.

The willpower and mental energy I saved every day, I put towards reinforcing my new habits of mind. By the end of the year, any year could have been a good year.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

Recent Stories

Morning Notes

Rosslyn Station Evacuation Last Night — From Dave Statter: “@ArlingtonVaFD arriving minutes ago at Rosslyn Metro confirming haze of smoke in the station & checking for source of the problem….

Good Wednesday evening, Arlington. Today we published articles that were read a total of 7696 times… so far. 📈 Top stories The following are the most-read articles for today —…

Arlington is poised to take a proverbial weed whacker to commercial properties with overgrown lawns and all properties with obstructive vegetation. Last month, a proposal to change the ordinance pertaining…

Adoptable Pet of the Week: Koda

Meet the beautiful Koda, a glass half full kinda dog who searching for his forever home.

Let the Arlingtones surprise your friend or sweetie this Valentine’s Day with a barbershop quartet singing love songs in four part a cappella harmony! Choose from a small selection of songs in our repertoire to surprise your special someone.

$75 for two songs delivered to a place of your choice by a live, in-person quartet. Includes a classy tin of chocolates, fresh red rose and personalized card. Small mileage surcharge for >5 miles outside Arlington VA.

$30 Facetime/Skype valentine- two songs delivered ‘live’ via Facetime or Skype at an agreed-on time.

$20 virtual valentine- two pre-recorded quartet songs delivered via email with a personalized message.

Read More

Submit your own Announcement here.

Have you noticed a striking sculpture at Monroe Street and Wilson Boulevard? It’s the Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington’s newest installation, Make Your Mark, by Arlington artist, Adam Henry. This sculpture celebrates MoCA Arlington’s rebranding and brings the museum’s energy outdoors.

On February 11, come inside when the museum’s galleries reopen with two new exhibitions: Rebecca Rivas Rogers: Grey View and Crisis of Image.

Grey View, in the Wyatt Resident Artist Gallery, is an homage to “gray” and a snapshot of the artist’s process. Consisting of photographs, collage, and a site-specific installation, this show is an outgrowth of Rivas-Rogers’ visual investigations into places you see on your way to somewhere else.

On the main level, Crisis of Image features artists who seek equity in today’s saturated visual world by developing new methods related to the production of images.

Read More

Submit your own Announcement here.

Valentine Pop-Up at George Mason University

Valentine gifts for someone special or for yourself are here at George Mason University from noon -4pm on February 14, 2023. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Kingsbury Chocolates, find a handmade bag from Karina Gaull, pick up treats from Village

Standup Comedy Showcase Starring Matt Ruby (Comedy Central)

Dead Horse Comedy Productions brings together top comedians from the DMV and beyond for a live standup comedy show!

Matt Ruby, Headliner

Matt Ruby is a comedian, writer, and filmmaker from New York City. His comedy has been filmed by


Subscribe to our mailing list