Question Detail

What would you have changed your first 3 years of teaching?

Mar 30, 2014 7:11pm

To those who are veteran teachers...

What are some practices that you would have liked to change your first 3 years of teaching? Do you have anything you wish you could "do-over?"

  • Other
  • K-5
  • Class Culture / Engagement / New Teachers / Planning


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    • Apr 5, 2014 1:25pm

      Hi Janine, I have been teaching for nearly 30 years now, but I can still remember the children in my first class. If I could change anything, I think it would be to have trusted my own intuition more. As a new teacher you tend to always be looking outside to get answers, when in fact you actually know a lot, especially by your second and third years. Trust your gut when you are making decisions about your classroom and students. If you spend time building relationships with your students, you intuitively know what each one needs, how to adapt the curriculum for them, how to set up your room to suit them, which behaviour management strategies they will respond to etc. Another thing I learned was that each class is different, and what may have worked perfectly one year will need adapting for the next year's class. And lastly, but most importantly (I think!) have fun with your children, make sure you all laugh together at least once a day :)

      • Apr 21, 2014 12:14am

        My first few years of teaching, I was so intent on getting the classroom management and teaching the curriculum with effective strategies that I feel I actually missed the children sitting in front of me! I have worked hard my last couple of years to really refocus myself on the students as kids and as human beings, not just the recipients of my teaching.

        Classroom management and effective teaching are very important, especially as you are getting your feet wet the first couple of years. But balancing that with the social aspects of teaching is very important.

        So if I could go back and give myself advice my first couple of years, I would definitely try to encourage myself to balance my efforts, keeping in mind that I am the teacher that these kids go home and think about at night. I want those thoughts to include how safe and successful the kids felt that day, and how excited they are to return the next day to learn more!

        • Apr 1, 2014 4:46pm

          I would have enjoyed the first years more-- instead of spending time worrying about everything that needed to be done (or maybe in addition...) I would have focused more on the amazing kids in my class and how they were trying so hard to learn and grow.

          • Apr 1, 2014 8:11pm

            To start, I should've read more books about teaching like the one by W. Michael Kelley. I must admit, the training program I went through was not rigorous enough. I would also have been more active in gathering/collecting materials. I would also have taken pictures of classroom norms posted in the rooms I been to.

            • Apr 2, 2014 6:53pm

              Thank you for your thoughtful answers! I'll keep all of your tips in mind!

              • Apr 7, 2014 1:09pm

                #1 thing for me was learning that if I say I am/am not going to do something then I have to stick with it. Which also means- don't ever say anything that you are not willing to do. After 10+ years of teaching- its my first line of advice for any new teacher. It seems simple, but makes a world of difference when students know what to expect and there is no "flip flopping" going on. It creates a calm and predictable classroom environment where students can thrive.

                • Apr 20, 2014 9:53am

                  I have to second what the others have said. Mean what you say and say what you mean, and clearly and explicitly model, teach, practice, practice, practice even more the rules and procedures you want your students to know and do. If you don't know your rules and procedures, you can't expect students to follow them.

                  • Apr 21, 2014 10:00am

                    Janice Segall

                    With all my fresh-out-of-college excitement about how MY classroom would work, looking back I would have planned more times for the students to plan THEIR class activities...even turning over an art lesson to the third graders would have amped up their sense of community, responsibility and (gotta believe) creativity. In 1974 I was concentrating on "morning circles" where we talked and shared, but after 2 years it seemed to me that they thought that was nice to do, but they really liked the doing, not the talking about doing.It's the action, Jackson!

                    • Jun 16, 2014 11:20pm

                      I wish I could go back and use the strategies from the whole brain teaching (Check out You tube Whole Brain Teaching) and what I have learned from Nurtured Heart.. This combo has helped me have my best year yet. We have fun, and learn together.

                      • Jul 21, 2014 12:46pm

                        During my first years of teaching I used to translate some words or expressions I thought students would not see the meanings easily into the mother tongue(French). Today I can see clearly that it was not really an appropriate way of doing things. One of my teacher advisers reproached me with that once during a class visit. I also used to be impatient mostly because of time pressure.