Series: First Days of School: It's Always Awkward in the Beginning

Reflecting on Teaching After 20 Years
Lesson Objective: Reflect on lessons learned from teaching
All Grades / All Subjects / Inspiration

Thought starters

  1. What has stayed the same over Ms. Wessling's teaching career?
  2. What has changed over Ms. Wessling's teaching career?
  3. How has Ms. Wessling learned from her students?

1. The things that stayed the same were the wanting the students to be engaged, the methods used such as group discussion and lists on the board. Belief that questions are more powerful than answers and connection between students and teachers.

2. Her wanting the kids to like her was the goal before. Time kids will get to like you if they respect you. Answers are no longer about what's on the paper but the imagination and questions that are asked along the way. Patience grows and insecurities leave and the seeday eventually will grow.

3. The questions they asked lead to the learning experience. When they made the transition to being more involved she was learning how she was to approach them to best introduce new ideas. Later on in her career she sees they don't necessarily need to like you but when they respect you they eventually will come to like you. Patience is a big key when being a teacher as well. If you can't handle the ups and downs it's tough. Learning patience along the way is always a good way to connect with the students.

Recommended (1)

SBW, you are a TRUE inspiration to us "newbies.'' Don't ever retire! :) The kids need you and so do all of the aspiring teachers who really need a mentor to look up to. 

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Oh my goodness, thank you so much! We all need each other -- students, teachers, colleagues, parents, communities -- no one does this work alone. All my best for a fantastic year!


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  • Transcript

    Sarah:                     How is everybody today?

    Speaker 2:           

    Sarah:                     How is everybody today?

    Speaker 2:            Good.

    Sarah:                     Good. When I think about my first year, 20 years ago, and I look at today, there are some things that have not changed.

                                        What about the thinking that goes along with the reading? Can you predict ...

                                        My belief that questions are more powerful than answers.

                                        Have you figured out how they connect?

                                        My belief that the first move is always connecting to another human being. But the ways in which I have gone about practicing that are really, really different. I thought the answers to good teaching, I thought the answers to learning, were somehow in the paper.

    Speaker 3:            Why do you do what you do?

    Sarah:                     Why do you do what you do?

                                        What I understand now is that, it's not what we prove on the paper, but it's the questions that we ask along the way that are really the pathways to learning, and that's what's so crucial.

                                        Here is your homework, okay? Okay, hang on here.

                                        The other thing that's really changed a lot since my first couple of years of teaching, I remember thinking, "I just want them to like me," which is a really natural thing. And I remember one of my mentors told me, my second year of teaching, she said, "You know Sarah, you kind of have it wrong," she said, "you want kids to respect you more than like you. And if they respect you, then that means that they will also like you in time," which was really an important anchor for me, for many years. But even now, now I'm thinking, "How do I get them to love to learn?"

                                        All right, what other questions? Yeah?

    Speaker 4:            [inaudible 00:01:56]?

    Sarah:                     That's been an evolution, but I think one that's really important, and maybe only happens with experience, I don't know.

                                        See you later.

                                        Or maybe it just happens when you've waited long enough for some of those kids to come back and tell you, years later, "That stuff you did worked."

                                        Good morning. Hey, you!

    Speaker 5:            How's it going?

    Sarah:                     Good.

                                        And I think that that's part of the process. That's part of the gift of having taught for 20 years, is that you can kind of let go of some of that insecurity, and you can trade it for this patience, that in time, these seeds will grow.


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School Details

Johnston Senior High School
6501 Nw 62nd Ave
Johnston IA 50131
Population: 1541

Data Provided By:



Sarah Brown Wessling
English Language Arts / 10 11 12 / Teacher


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