Here are some of the answers that teachers gave to this question: “What was one thing you wished you’d known when you started teaching?”

The query was posed on the “Whole Child Blog” of ASCD, an educational leadership organization with more than 170,000 educator members in 136 countries.

Some of the responses are below, and you can see more here. The answers -- which are republished below as they appeared on the website -- hit on what ASCD believes are crucial elements in effective teaching and learning.


tegan zimmerman henry

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

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

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 :)

Rachel Stevens

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

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


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

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


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!


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

Sue Eisenberg

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

Janet Gannon

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.


I wish I’d known to relish the fun times more{hellip}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.


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

Alison Seefeldt

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


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.

Cindy Kruse

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.

Tonia Allen

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.


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


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.


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