TTEE2 Email Hot Topic Discussion

What I wish I had known...


Domain 4, Component 4a) Reflecting on Teaching

"...Teachers may reflect on their practice through collegial conversations, journal writing, examining student work, conversations with students, or simply thinking about their teaching. Reflecting with accuracy and specificity, as well as being able to use in future teaching what has been learned, is an acquired skill; mentors, coaches, and supervisors can help teachers acquire and develop the skill of reflecting on teaching through supportive and deep questioning. Over time, this way of thinking both reflectively and self-critically and of analyzing instruction through the lens of student learning—whether excellent, adequate, or inadequate—becomes a habit of mind, leading to improvement in teaching and learning.

The elements of component 4a are:


As teachers gain experience, their reflections on practice become more accurate, corresponding to the assessments that would be given by an external and unbiased observer. Not only are the reflections accurate, but teachers can provide specific examples from the lesson to support their judgments.

Use in future teaching

If the potential of reflection to improve teaching is to be fully realized, teachers must use their reflections to make adjustments in their practice. As their experience and expertise increases, teachers draw on an ever-increasing repertoire of strategies to inform these adjustments..

Indicators include:

  • Accurate reflection on a lesson
  • Citation of adjustments to practice that draw on a repertoire of strategies"

-The Framework for Teaching Evaluation Instrument, 2013 edition


Take a few minutes to reflect and share:

Mentors: Share your wisdom by answering the question, "What I know now that I wish I had known as a first year teacher is . . .”

Novice Teachers: Share your new wisdom by answering the question, “What I know now that I didn’t know at the start of the year and how this will impact my second year.”


Take a look at the following article: Experienced Teachers Reflect on Their First Year


As my first year was in 1981, there was a lot that may seem obvious to new teachers that wasn't obvious to me.

I didn't understand the importance of practicing proper behavior. I just expected that one time reading the rules of the classroom was enough.

I actually believed what I was told, that a teacher shouldn't smile at least until Thanksgiving.

I was more worried about being liked than I was about being respected.

I thought that my subject matter expertise was the main thing; I didn't understand the issues with child development, especially with the junior high aged students.

I thought that when I was given a junior high class to teach (as a high school teacher), that it must have been some sort of punishment.

I did know one thing that has always served me well. Make friends with the custodians and secretaries, as they run the schools as much as or more than the principals do.


I wish I had known that no matter how prepared you THINK you are for what will happen in the classroom (from being "taught" procedures in college), you are never prepared enough! Until you experience situations and are the only adult in the room to tackle said situation, you have no idea! I learned so much the first year about what to do and no do that it was amazing. I remember thinking, "They didn't prepare me for that!"

Terri, Social Studies Teacher

Greenville Jr. High

Greenville, IL


This is a hard one for me…but I would say that the one thing that I know now that I wish I had known then was to "Keep Calm and Carry On." No matter what may happen in class, allowing the little things to get to you can be the root cause of burnout.



I wish I had known that it's okay if every day doesn't go as perfectly as planned. You can learn from experience.


8th Grade Science

Greenville Junior High


I wish I had realized that no matter how much effort I put into knowing my content and designing lessons that brought history alive, in an effort to make learning fun, some students still would not care. Apathetic students are a struggle all teachers face, and as I reflect on how I dealt with that in my first years, I have become more and more determined to foster positive relationships with those students and to make every effort to link my content to my students lives. We, as teachers, have an obligation to try to reach every student, and thinking about how we interact with those students and why our content should matter to them is an important lesson I wish I had be forewarned about earlier.


I wish I had known the phrase I now use for myself and my students . . . It's okay to make mistakes. That's the way we learn.

I still evaluate my day each evening and always find a situation I could do differently. But I also can find situations that went rather well.



I did not know that coworkers could be so important to myself and my program. I get so much helpful advice from my coworkers, and if I ever have a problem they will give me a hand. All of the teachers I work with will take in students from my program without even thinking twice. They treat them like all of their students and do not encounter problems.



I definitely would not survive if it was not for one of my co-workers here at GES! She helps me feel great and secure in what we are doing. If I ever get lost I have a support system in her to help me. I never thought that the support of one person could help my experience so much. All the Kindergarten teachers are striving to work together and become a team. It makes our job easier, more fun, and beneficial for the students. I have learned that collaborating with other teachers strengthens my work. I learn every day from my experience and theirs. It is awesome to have such a great support system. I have learned to keep your coworkers close!


Miss. Sarah

Greenville Elementary School


Last year I spent many extra hours at school during the school year and during the summer at the expense of my family. This year I am learning to find a balance between school and home. Finding this balance will certainly help next year!

GES Kindergarten Teacher


Things I wish I knew…….:

1. That I didn’t have to be perfect as a teacher. That I was allowed to make mistakes and I didn’t need to know everything. I found that showing the human side of a teacher helped my students respect me more.

2. To use others teachers and administrators as a resource OFTEN! On subject matter, but most importantly DISCIPLINE. It’s easy to teach, once you figured out how to manage the class.
3. I knew that the first year would be harder than the rest, but I wish I knew it would be A LOT harder. I wondered if I made the wrong career choice…..I was working until 1:00 a.m. daily. Once you get through year one of survival teaching, the rest are just fine tuning. Keep in my I was at a small school with 11 subjects to prep.
4. That not everything works the first time……or second and third time. I ALWAYS adjusted from year-to-year, even when it went well. It can always be done a little better.
5. Lastly….I wish I knew that I would always have to learn new school programs (e.g. Skyward, Common Core, etc.) The financial state of the world and pressure to be the best means change….even though it hurts at times.

Hope it help…..

Jason Rakers


Pocahontas Elementary


I think the main thing that I have learned my first two years as a teacher is not everything is going to go perfectly. I really struggled with coming to this conclusion my first year. I would beat myself up often and try to figure out why something didn't go just as I expected during the lesson. As this year has progressed, I've tried to let the little stuff go quicker and enjoy the wild rides that each day brings.


P.E. Teacher Sorento/Pocahontas

Pocahontas Boys Basketball Coach

Greenville Jr. High Track Coach


At the start of the year I think I was really naive in thinking that all my students were going to understand everything I taught. There were many times that I was grading a quiz and the grades were just not where I thought they should be. I couldn't understand why they were not getting it. It took me some time to realize that not everyone is going to get it and that not all of them are giving the same amount of effort. It was hard for me to understand why my students didn't want to do well. I think I have realized that it is not so much that they do not want to do well, it is just that some of them do not want to put in the work required to do well. I think that next year I will lay out my expectations and challenge my student to rise above them. I know some of them will rise to the challenge, and others will not, but those who do not should ~hopefully~ understand that they are failing themselves.



The main thing that I have learned this year is to focus more on the big picture. At the beginning of the year I spent an incredible amount of time worrying about specific things and how they would impact my students, and it really wore me out. I got really stressed out when a lesson didn't go well, which resulted in more time spent at school to avoid another mistake. Eventually I realized that I had given up things in my personal life that were very important to me because I basically lived at school. Now I am able to balance my personal life and my professional life and I'm much happier. I don't get upset when a lesson doesn't work out, because I see it as a learning experience and move on. I think next year will be much better because I can see things as part of a bigger picture, and honestly if I can make it through this year I can do just about anything!