10 Things We Wish We Had Known When We Started Teaching….

Our Teaching-Learning-Innovation department is full of great teachers.  Former teachers. Are you ever actually a ‘former’ teacher?  We still teach.  Everyday.  And we sure continue to learn.  We have 7 former teachers, with a total of 112 years of experience. We also work with wonderful building leaders, all of whom have done a ton of teaching.

We have been sharing ideas about things we wish we had known when we started teaching.  We’ve broken them down into a list of 10.

Here they are:

  1. Not so much a technique as a deeply held belief.  I think you’ve heard me say this before but, “Always remember you are teaching someone else’s kids.”  In my mind this has elevated everything I do with students.  Somewhere there is a parent who has entrusted us with their child.  Are we treating them and teaching them the way we would want our own kid treated?  Ultimately this is a question of value, not pedagogy.   When we rightly value our students, the stage is set for meaningful academic growth. –Brian Neufeld, Assistant Principal
  2. My biggest thing is, what I could have learned by watching my colleagues across curricular areas, but most importantly across all grade levels.  It would have been great to observe elementary teachers as a high school shop teacher… Great teaching is great teaching at any level! –Mark Beddes, Principal
  3. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.  You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others.  Smile and enjoy the moment. Also, join ASCD. It’s a wealth of information and resources on everything teaching related. –Ron Ness, Principal
  4. As a new teacher I wished I had fully realized the importance and potential power of relationship building with your students. My order of priorities at the beginning of my teaching career was content mastery first, relationships second. It’s so painfully obvious to me now that those needed to be completely reversed! –Keith Hannah, Instructional Technology Facilitator
  5. Never underestimate the power of the lessons learned by folks who have gone before you.  Experienced teachers, even if they have a different style or way of doing things, have often learned valuable lessons in their career.  Many of them know the power of relationships, and even better, have an idea of how to build this rapport.  Many know how to design lessons, manage a classroom, communicate with families, or foster student talk.  They also know how to balance life and career.  Each has an area of expertise or two that can inform your practice.
    Keep an eye out for this, and more importantly, consider listening first.  Learn from respected colleagues and realize that teaching is a craft that continues to evolve each year for each of us. –Mark Robinson, Principal
  6. Who you are is part of your strength as a teacher. Don’t underestimate what you bring to the table. We all have our own way of making the learning experience fun and amazing through how we ourselves learn and this IS powerful for our students to see. Shine your light in your unique way and watch magic in the classroom happen! –Teresa Sinay, ELA Instructional Facilitator
  7. “Don’t compare your Chapter 1 to someone else’s Chapter 20.” Every teacher is on their own journey and will take different twists and turns along the way. With that said, find your North Stars! Your path may be unique but there are those to whom you can look up to. Follow them; learn from them; listen to them. –Elaine Smith, TLI Assistant Director
  8. Be yourself.  The best teachers are themselves inside and outside the classroom.  Kids can spot a phony a mile away. –Jeff Nelson, TLI Executive Director
  9. Play.  –Jeff Nelson, TLI Executive Director
  10. Relationships.  Most important thing 50 years ago.  And will be the most important thing 50 years from now.  –George Couros, Inspirational Guy

Nelson SLMS(Here I am, back in the 80s.  Check out the swell yellow belt.  The turned up collar.  The 80s glasses.  Yikes.  This is in my first classroom, at Surprise Lake Middle School.  Yes, that’s a chalkboard.  Yes, that’s my gradebook in my hands.  The message on the chalkboard indicates that it might be the last day of school.)

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