ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Giveaway: Win a Free Copy of The Well-Balanced Teacher

What was one thing you wished you'd known when you started teaching? Share your comments below and we'll pick three responders at random to receive a free copy of Mike Anderson's book The Well-Balanced Teacher: How to Work Smarter and Stay Sane Inside the Classroom and Out. Winners will be announced Wednesday, March 2, at 5 p.m. ET!

Read the author's ideas on healthy behavior patterns for teachers about to start the school year and listen to the Whole Child Podcast in which he shares how teachers can care for themselves so that they are happier, healthier, and more effective.

Comments (80)

tegan zimmerman henry

March 1, 2011

i wish i’d known that the classroom community runs the smoothest when kids are allowed to speak freely, choose their learning topics and enjoy their learning environment to the fullest.

Laurie K

March 2, 2011

to never plan in-depth for the whole week. There are too many pull-outs, assemblies, snow days and lessons that just take much longer than you expected to complete - which throws off your whole planning schedule!

Jodi Johnson

March 2, 2011

I wish I had known more about school boards, administration and the down side of being a public employee. It is very dis-heartening to see teachers bashed in the community for simply doing what we love to do. I also wished I would have know more about Responsive Classroom, I think if I could have incorporated morning meeting into my first year, it would have been a much better school year smile

Rachel Stevens

March 2, 2011

I wish I had known the importance of teaching children how to care for and respect each other and their classroom.  I knew it was important, but never learned how to do it as a new teacher.

John Tarpey

March 2, 2011

Teaching is 10% instruction and 90% “caregiver.”  Students need to know you care about them all day, every day!

Claire

March 2, 2011

I wish I’d known how important it is to connect with each and every child, no matter how annoying they seem.  Always look for the good in every child.  They need to know someone cares.

Evangeline Burgers

March 2, 2011

I wish I had known that it is okay to leave some things unfinished for the next day.

Jaime

March 2, 2011

Talking to students in an age appropriate but honest and real way makes them feel respected and valued. We have some great conversations in my third grade class!

Natasha

March 2, 2011

I wish I’d known not to engage with students arguing with me.  State my expectation succinctly and not get into a conversation.

george dougherty

March 2, 2011

I wish I’d known to not be fulled by how calm the students are for the first two weeks of school. I loosened up during that time and they’ve been taking advantage of me since. smile

Brigitte Reid

March 2, 2011

I wish I had known that being in control doesn’t mean being controlling, and that the more power my students have the more successful we’ll all be!

Allison

March 2, 2011

To choose my batles and let go of so many of
those power struggles!

Robyn Langmead

March 2, 2011

I wish I had known that it is truly impossible to accomplish it all, but I’ll always keep trying:)

ellen

March 2, 2011

I wish I would have known that the more words spoken throughout the day is not always better. Choosing your language carefully when teaching and solving behavior problems has been key!

Sue Eisenberg

March 2, 2011

I wish I had known that the best way to establish rules was through modeling.

Nikki Gillitzer

March 2, 2011

I wish I had known (or ben taught) how to differentiate in an organized, effective way!

Mary

March 2, 2011

I wish I’d known about Morning Meetings.  The whole day is so much smoother when we can start the morning together in a calm, consistent way!

Janet Gannon

March 2, 2011

I wish I’d known that going to school is like going to work—students want to have a good day, have their “boss” like them and encourage them, feel productive, and have a little time “at the water cooler” to be with other students.

Wendy

March 2, 2011

I wish I’d known to relish the fun times more…not be so serious about “learning” only.  I try to have fun more now! I’m more relaxed and I think kids learn better when their teacher isn’t totally stressed.

missy carta

March 2, 2011

I wish I knew how much fun and effective it is to integrate essential understandings and concepts across the curriculum

Laura

March 2, 2011

I wish I’d known how important routines are.  I wish I’d known I had to establish all routines before Day 1 and that I would have to actually have the students practice them repeatedly.

alicia Neal

March 2, 2011

I wish I’d known to take counseling classes for the issues my students are currently facing.

Jen W.

March 2, 2011

I wish I would have known the importance of positive teacher talk and how specific praise can really boast students’ achievement levels.  In college, I was told to tell my students, “Good Job!” when they did something noteworthy.  Good job is really too vague to be effective.  When I started using specific praise, I saw improvements in not only academics but also in attitudes.  More students were reaching their learning goals also.

Tracy Sachs

March 2, 2011

The best advice I’ve ever been given is, “Fast is slow and slow is fast.”  This means you have to take the TIME to develop a sense of community and establish rules and procedures because then the rest will be easy.  Don’t try to rush to curriculum before all the kids know what to do and how to do it and how to treat each other and you.

maureen

March 2, 2011

I wish I had known the power of well-timed, well-directed, meaningful praise.

Alison Seefeldt

March 2, 2011

I wish I’d known more strategies for building classroom community during my first year of teaching.

tracy

March 2, 2011

I wish I had known so many things…that tomorrow is another day, that I am allowed to be human, that a relationship goes a long way, and how much is misunderstood about what we do.

Sonya Tokerud

March 2, 2011

It does get a little easier—- but not really!

Debby Matassa

March 2, 2011

I wish I had known how much fun Pre K is, so that I could have gotten to Pre K sooner!

Conchy

March 2, 2011

I wish I knew more about the “Social Curriculm”.  I wish I had Ruth Sidney Charney as one of my teachers. I wish I knew about how important choice and play are and I wish I had spent more time getting to know children for who they are:  children.

Allison S.

March 2, 2011

I wish I had known just how much interpersonal communication and building relationships comes into play with day to day interactions with staff, students and members of the community. That’s not something they go over in education courses.

anne

March 2, 2011

I wish I had known each day is a great day to learn something new!  Kids have so much to teach us and we have so much to teach them!

Amye Renaud

March 2, 2011

I wish I had known, when I first began my career as an elementary school teacher, that despite being well-organized, prepared, self-confident, creative, enthusiastic, loving, patient, and able to trouble-shoot, that the profession would be a series of emotional ups and downs.  There have been a few times over the years when I’ve really been knocked off my feet, wondering if I was going to bounce back “this time.”  Responsive Classroom has made it possible every time!!  Through my training and subsequent practice, and in conversations with RC teachers and consultants, I’ve learned how important it is to carry within my heart every day the commitment I made to this profession, my love of children and teaching, and my belief that every student can learn and flourish in a tightly-tied classroom community.

Emily V

March 2, 2011

One thing I wish that I’d known was that in spite of all of the textbooks and coursework I had completed, I needed to know about classroom management-starting with effective planning, followed by meaningful teaching, a laundry list of behavior strategies to use throughout the day,and how to deal with the constant interruptions that would persue each day.

Cindy Kruse

March 2, 2011

I wish I had known and understood the need that we all have for belonging, significance, and fun!  I wish I had followed my heart more and worried about testing less.  I wish that I had known how important it is for teachers and students to take the time to stop and reflect on their teaching and learning.

Candace Roberts

March 2, 2011

I wish I’d known that the most important criteria to consider when meeting the needs of all children is; Does the activity/learning sequence/lesson move a child’s learning forward.  If not, don’t waste your time.

Also, I wish I had learned about The Power of Our Words (teacher language) in the classroom earlier.

Frankie Albright

March 2, 2011

I wish I had known to teach students to be assertive.
My kindergarteners listen respectfully during sharing time and ask very thoughtful questions.  This continues throughout the day.

Lauren Tredinnick

March 2, 2011

I wish I had known about the power of our words…to include our tone and the way we say things.  I also wish I had known about morning meetings and how they can set the tone for the rest of the day!  I LOVE our morning meetings!

Tonia Allen

March 2, 2011

I wish I would have known that I was going to care so much about other kids, other than my own, and that I would be taking each one of them home with me daily, on the weekends, during breaks and summer vacations.

Denise

March 2, 2011

I wished I’d known that at times your heart will break. :(

Claire Moore

March 2, 2011

I wish I had known that taking just 10 minutes or so at the start of the year to let kids discover, what I thought were obvious classroom tools, like the pencil sharpener, classroom markers and rulers, or the bathroom sign out sheet, would save me hours of annoyance and free me from my most undesired role of electric pencil sharpener repairlady in the future.

Heidi

March 2, 2011

I think the thing I wish I’d known is that every single day is different and that no matter what you do, plans will change all the time. I have a love/hate relationship with how unpredictable my job can be.

Lydia

March 2, 2011

1. Never argue with a student.  They’ll only drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.
2. Keep a crate with file folders and file all your copies in it for easy access instead of stacking them in piles haphazardly.
3. What you permit, you promote.
4. Respect earns respect!

And a million more things!

christina malanga

March 2, 2011

mindfulness meditation

Wendy

March 2, 2011

I wish I knew that each individual brings on a new dynamics. Its been taught but not truly understood until you’re in the classroom!

Sarah

March 2, 2011

As hard as it is, you will not be able to “fix” everything for every child. Give it your best and ensure every child is happy, healthy, and well cared for while he/she is in your classroom.

Ron

March 2, 2011

I wish I would have understood that a great deal of learning happens well after the lesson has ended….that your body language and temperament speak louder than the words coming from your mouth.

Patrice Mortson

March 2, 2011

That band aids can improve focus from a paper cut to the task at hand and Lysol would be your best friend!!

Gail Hardie

March 2, 2011

Two things…
Give ownership of the learning to the children.
Also - wish I had spent more time with my fellow teachers - we are each an expert and can learn so much from each other.

Claire D

March 2, 2011

I wish I had known that I would always be learning more and to just do the best with the tools I have at the time. Being a lifelong learner is the most powerful way to model learning to your students.

Sherry Wood

March 2, 2011

I wish I had known how hard it is to be a parent.  I fear I was pretty judgemental until I became a parent myself.  “How come they can’t remember sneakers on Monday and library books on Tuesday?”  Um….because they also have to remember a million other family details!  Sometimes teachers have to give parents a break for the little things!

Teacher & Mom

March 2, 2011

I wish I had known what to do with all the paper!  Figuring out a filing system and paper management system is something that I’m STILL trying to master, now in my 4th year.

Raheel Lakhani

March 2, 2011

I wish I had known that it is not transfer of knowledge but students construct their own meaning. I used to put so much heavy content that it was of no use. I wanted them to know-it-all but what’s the use. Know little but it is important to make use of it so you can know more from learning through experience smile

Noelle

March 2, 2011

I wish I’d known how little most parents value the social pieces of education. There’s a very real probelm out there regarding our children’s socialization and we need to focus more on that as educators.

Andrea

March 2, 2011

University taught me Thorndike and Piaget’s theories but didn’t tell me that I’d be the Mom….wiping noses, doing up snaps on clothes, putting on bandaids, tying boots/shoes, soothing hurt feelings and scrubbing walls when little boys miss. Hard work but a joyous compliment when they look up at you and say, “Hey Mom” because they forgot you aren’t. grin (I’ve taught first grade for 17 years in a public school district.)

Tracy

March 2, 2011

I wish I had known that small changes make just as impressive an impact as complete overhauls.  I wish I had known how to speak up more effectively during team meetings for the benefit of the student.

Sue

March 2, 2011

Setting expectations and practicing procedures is a key to success!

Meredith

March 2, 2011

During my first year of teaching, I wish I would have known that if students aren’t doing what was asked, it’s because they haven’t been showed how to achieve what was asked.

Modeling expectations is key.

Dawnette

March 2, 2011

I wish I had known how to effectively help students with behavioral issues; providing positive reinforcement and modeling expectations. Every child is a learner and should be loved!

Amy

March 2, 2011

That taking the time to get to know the child and having a conversation with him/her is more important to the child’s growth than the guided reading lesson that is on the lesson plans.

Sam Walker

March 2, 2011

Patience and how to prioritize based what is best for the student are characteristics that I wish I had known when I first became a teacher. I felt pressure to get in the content and when you cave to that pressure you forget you are teaching a human being. It’s kind of like coaching at the collegiate level - you are evaluated on what the youth you guide do and how they perform. Focuse on the human and not the content and give them autonomy to choose how to show what they have learned.

kathy

March 2, 2011

I wish I had known how to establish a solid program that included required curricula but also the kids’s interests and ideas.

Dorothy

March 2, 2011

This was a gift from a mentor and it changed the way I teach:  Children don’t care what you know, until they know that you care.

Danielle

March 2, 2011

I wish I had known how powerful organization and preparation are in allowing for the best management, most clear communication, better classroom community, and most effective instruction.

Even when a lesson doesn’t go well, it can still be a great day if I am planned to adapt, and have a clear sense of direction with my instruction.

Lynn Skavis

March 2, 2011

Most importantly, I didn’t know how much I would love it!  Also, not to stress when things don’t always go as planned!

Klea @ ASCD Whole Child

March 2, 2011

Thanks to all who participated in this giveaway! Congratulations to

  * Claire Torrey
  * Tonia Allen
  * Raheel Lakhani

To claim your prize, e-mail your mailing address to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Dawn

March 3, 2011

I wish I had had time to read my e-mail instead of stressing about this week’s state writing test in CA. Boy do I know I need this book regardless. On my way to purchase it…

Klea @ ASCD Whole Child

March 7, 2011

Your comments were picked up by the Washington Post—http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/teachers/teachers-one-thing-wed-wish-we.html! Thank you so much for sharing!

Michael

March 7, 2011

Late to the game, but for what it is worth…

I wish that I knew that with a Ph.D., 10+ years of teaching (college prep courses, undergraduate, and graduate courses), years of consulting in the field, etc. I would not meet the “highly qualified” criteria to teach in the public K-12 system.  Meanwhile, the school down the street from me is turning over “highly qualified” teachers left and right as substitutes fill in until “permanent” teachers can be hired.

Jan Duffy

March 7, 2011

I wish I’d dated and labeled every photograph, and at least put them into nicely organized file folders at the end of every school year, along with any letters of thanks I received, instead of just sticking them into whatever place was handy at the time- where they’d be out of my way, but wouldn’t be thrown out accidentally. I wish they’d been out where I could easily look through them, maybe as often as every week-and show them to other people too- because I’ve recently discovered (with a shock) that there’s really nothing quite like looking through a lot of old photos and letters to give you a healthy dose of perspective about yourself.  When all those old memories come flooding back, you can’t help but think about how you got to where you are, what all has changed, and what hasn’t changed at all, too! I’ve been so “in the moment” with my students, and my family too,  that even when I thought I was taking “the long view” of things, I probably wasn’t reflecting back more than the 10 or 15 years that it feels like I’ve been teaching. It took the shock of suddenly running across an envelope of pictures from 30 years ago, to make me realize I’ve already been through A LOT, and I"m still on what I consider to be “the right path”-I’m hauling all my technology with me! Once I got over the shock of—“How in the world—I can’t possibly be THAT Old!  Why I’m Not Old AT ALL!” I realized those pictures and letters connect me to the truth of who I am as a teacher in a way that nothing else does, and they ought to be seen, by me and by other people, more often! How much more confident-even in uncertainty- I might have felt before now as I go about the process of my work. And that reconfirms for me what I learned at Harvard’s Project Zero- it’s important to make the process of our work with our students visible through documentation-available not just for them and for ourselves, but for others, outside the walls of our schools, to learn from too, over time-not only in the present time.

J-Seez

March 8, 2011

Teaching your students and yourself to just take a deep breath is one of the best things you can do to keep your sanity.  Also, have some laughter with the kids at least once a day.  Life’s too short! smile

Musicman

March 8, 2011

I wish I would have known that I would see the students only 3 days a week on average.  You can take students only so far. They must be allowed to take it to the next level without being forced, coerced, threatened, or manipulated.  You can only do as much as the system will allow.  Don’t feel guilt about the lack of progress when the program is set to fail. Laugh more, have fun with the students more, and don’t ever sweat the small stuff. Keep doing your job with EXCELLENCE. CHILL!  PEACE!

MichaelC

March 9, 2011

I wish I had understood two things: One is the enormous impact teachers really can have on students; and secondly, how our assumptions about how this influence will impact them are actually very weak. I am in my 35th year as a teacher.  As new teacher I assumed that the students who “got good grades” were going to be successful, go to college, get good jobs etc.  I assumed the quiet kid, who never wanted to participate, was not learning anything.  I assumed that the student who tried my patience each day with their outrageous behavior was not learning anything and was causing me problems because they didn’t like me or the class (or that they hated learning).  I know now that sometimes it will be the most disruptive student who may decades later tell you how you really helped them survive because you seemed to be the only one who cared about them.  I know now that the student who got straight “A"s, that we all assumed would be brilliant and successful, may actually drop out of college after one semester and never find their path in life.  As teachers we must do our very best everyday with every student, but we also have to accept the fact that we will seldom know the full impact we had on any individual student. My advice, just try to help each student, every day and don’t make assumptions about their future.

John Benson

March 9, 2011

From the start of my career I allowed myself to be overwhelmed by content. Now I spend time building up students’ confidence and pointing out how what we are studying will be useful in their futures. I work backwards from what I want them to know at the end of the semester before the plunge into the texts. I stress the big ideas and deal with the details as the need demands. I do not feel I have to “fix” every student’s problems they walk through the door with, but I do take responsibility for creating a safe, orderly, enjoyable, and productive learning environment while they are there.
I follow reasonable departmental directives, but I will not give up my autonomy in my own classroom to be micro-managed from outside. I will value advice from friendly administrators like the one who said “You will never know the reasons for decisions made here, so don’t stay awake nights trying to figure it out.” I will stay with my strengths, yet acknowledge my limitations; addiction to perfection has been my “road not taken”.

Bob Sizoo

March 9, 2011

I had student put his/her name on the board for a rule infraction, and a check after the name for a second infraction, each representing ten minutes after school.  This was pretty common practice 25 years ago, but I soon learned that these strolls to the blackboard represented more time to bask in peer attention. I wondered why that was such a popular classroom management tool. Not wanting to appear unsure of myself, I continued using the method even after realizing its inefficacy.  Lesson one: negative attention can be a reward. Lesson two: if you’re heading the wrong way, admit it and turn around.

On Our Minds @ Scholastic » In Our Feeds: Bi

March 11, 2011

[...] speaking of teachers, The Whole Child Blog asked teachers to share one thing they wished they’d known when they star… – and the comments are fascinating. (The Whole Child [...]

Jeremiah Dyke

March 17, 2011

A fav hobby of mine is to watch first year educators transition from student to teacher. There are so many things we wished we knew that first year! Kudos to educators!

JenMC

March 27, 2011

I wish I was more equipped for dealing with schools that have zero resources, but tons of pressure to do the latest and greatest learning. I wish I knew more about why minority children and children of low income households get so much less than their wealthy counterparts. Why is an American education based on class, race, gender, etc.? No amount of studying and theorizing prepares you for the things you witness and learn about in regards to this issue. America needs to change its educational system in a slow, rational manner that promotes closing the gap and educating everyone with fairness and equality.

Steve

April 12, 2011

Teach the kids not the content.

Bernadette W

December 31, 2011

Having fun with the kids is ok and you’re a human being just like everyone else; if you don’t take care of yourself first, you’ll never have the energy to take care of others.

Share |

Blog Archive

Blog Tags