Helpful Bits of Advice from Veteran Teachers

Veteran teachers share small bits of invaluable advice to make classroom life easier.
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Updated on: July 16, 2001
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  • A few musts:
    • Teach your students as you would wish your children to be taught.
    • Have one premise for your classroom rules – mutual respect.
    • Have no more than three rules – mine are: think, be polite, do your work.
    • Live and love your subject(s).
    • Select the simplest way at all times and focus on rapport and calm discipline before trying to teach content.
    • Rely on all the mistakes you make.
    • Never fight a battle you can't win, and never ask a question you don't know the answer to.
    • Program some fun into every lesson and the rest will follow.

    Mrs. Falconer
    Kingsgrove High School
    Sydney, Australia
    Grade Levels: 9-12

  • A few more musts:
    • Realize that you will make mistakes, because becoming a teacher did not make you perfect.
    • Don't be afraid to apologize to your students when you have made a mistake.
    • Realize that the lesson plan is just that – a plan. Remember, we make plans every day of our life but rarely do we carry them out 100% of the time.
    • Get a good night sleep every night.
    • Read, read, read as much about the teaching profession as you can.
    • Join a professional organization.
    • Write your name in permanent ink on the front of everything you own in your classroom. Teachers are notorious for borrowing something of interest and then forgetting where they got it from.
    • Don't let your teaching job become your life! Of all the professions in the world, teachers could easily work themselves to death because so much in this world can be used to teach our students.

    Henry Gail McGinnis
    V. I. Grissom Elementary
    Houston, TX
    Grade Levels: 3-5

  • Take the time to get to know your students. It's amazing just how much you might accomplish when you get to know your students on a personal level. When you stop caring, it's time to move on.

    Mylina Stanfield
    Boaz Middle School
    Boaz, AL
    Grade Levels: 6-8

  • No matter how hard you try to please the parents, the administration, and the students, never stop trying to please yourself.

    Lesley Golkin
    UCSF Child Life School Program
    San Francisco, CA
    Grade Levels: All

  • You can't do it all at once. Be sensitive to your own needs and temper your drive to succeed with moments for milk, cookies, and a good book. Renew your reasons for teaching as often as possible. It will always bring you back to the pleasure of a toothless smile when something difficult has been achieved! Remember the fuel for your day; smile, smile, smile.

    Lois Accardi
    Glenwood Elementary School
    Short Hills, NJ
    Grade Levels: K-2

  • Consider the source when accepting advice – what works in an urban school may not in a rural one; elementary school is vastly different from high school.

    Becky Rayburn
    Gates County High School
    Gatesville, NC
    Grade Levels: 9-12

  • Pay heed to the words spoken in The Emperor's Club (with Kevin Kline as a classics teacher). I must paraphrase, but it goes something like this: it isn't one single success or failure that makes a great teacher, but rather the trend over time. This helped me to put a negative experience in perspective. We can't win 'em all! This was a wonderful movie, and generated a terrific quote about great teachers, that I want to share with our most senior teacher in the district, who is still inspiring kids and going the extra mile. It says:
    Great teachers have little external history to record.
    Their lives go over into other lives.
    These men are pillars in the intimate structure of our schools.
    They are more essential than its stones or beams.
    They will continue to be a kindling force and a revealing power;
    part of the necessary fabric men breathe.
    Good luck to all new teachers!

    Shyrl Cone
    Third Grade Teacher
    Hartland, Michigan

  • The students in your class need to know you as a caring human being before they will trust you as their teacher.

    Anonymous

  • There are three things that come to mind....

    1. Where the bathrooms were all located.

    2. Never tell the kids how old you are.

    3. Never, EVER, be SUPER NICE when disciplining a kid.

    Anonymous

  • I am about ready to retire and am so sorry that I did not keep the index cards I had kids fill out each year listing their names, addresses, phone, etc. I only started doing this 15 years ago. I am at the point where I now have taught a few children of my former students.

    R.S. Carlson

  • I keep an index card file of every student that I have with pertinent info. such as name, address, schedule, etc. On the backs of these cards I keep notes of that student's progress in my class-whether it is behavioral or grade-related-this gives me good records for those impromptu parent conferences. This is especially helpful if you have students that you see a pattern forming!

    Deana Pittman
    Batesville Junior High
    Batesville, MS

  • Return to the What I Wish I'd Known Page
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