10 Years of Teaching: A Reflection

I started this blog more than five years ago. I have now come to the conclusion of my 10th year of teaching. In this article and the upcoming series, I reflect on some of what I have learned in my 10 years of teaching.


A reflection

It strikes me that much of what I have written on this blog, especially in the older articles is simply wrong. Some of the information can be misleading or easily misunderstood. In the upcoming weeks and months, I aim to readdress some of those same issues from my new, far more patient and friendly mindset. At the same time, there are some core beliefs I held to in those early days that are ever strong in me and I want to really bring those out as well.

Over the last two school years, I have been in a situation where I see a lot of newer music teachers on a fairly regular basis, some even on a daily basis. I have forgone blogging to a great degree so I could do more one-on-one work with some of them. Through this process, I have gained a great deal of insight and I want to share some of those things with the blogging audience in the near future as well.

And the final note, I just updated WordPress (and lost an entire blog entry in the process). I do plan to make minor adjustments to the layout of the blog and declutter some. I haven’t done any major changes to the layout in over two years and things have changed quite a bit since then as far as web design and social media go, so it’s time. But before I go, I leave you with a question:

For the newer teachers: What are some of the things that concern/scare you about the upcoming school year?
For the seasoned veterans: What are some of the things that you know now that you wish you had known back then?

About Joel Wagner 522 Articles
Joel Wagner (@sywtt) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. So You Want To Teach? is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.

3 Comments on 10 Years of Teaching: A Reflection

  1. As a 20 year veteran I now know I would rethink choosing teaching as a career. The politics and policy makers have made it damn near impossible to "teach". I love my students. (most days LOL) I now work longer hours than I did my first year teaching. Lesson plans that were wonderful 2 years ago, are now no good. We have a 4 page lesson plan format that we are required to follow. I spend more time filling in the pages than I do thinking about the "teaching". I have another 14 years until I can retire and I doubt I will make it under the current climate.
    As for the practical matters; I now know that kids lie, kids are not always a reflection of their parents, the best laid plans can go awry due to many things: a good discussion, a fire drill, a bomb threat, or a sudden snow storm that amazes my Carribean students. I can cram 2 lessons into 1 when needed and most of all I now know that I MUST have the ability to not only make an a$$ of myself in front of the kids, but also must be able to laugh at myself.

  2. Hey — congrats the birthday of the blog.
    What do I know now that I did not know then? Hmmmm. I think it might be about expectations of my students as writers. Even the ones who struggle still have something important to say, and the time you take to guide them into their role as a writer reflecting on their world, the more you realize that you are making a significant impact on a single person — although the results of that impact might take a few years to ripple through.

  3. I think for me, as a young teacher (just completed my first year!) my biggest hurdle is classroom management. I'm moving into a new job now, but last year I was THE music teacher for grades 1-12. I rarely had issues with the high school band (grades 7-12). Any issues I had were usually resolved with a phone call. But that wasn't the case for my 5th grade heterogeneous beginning band class, or my 6th grade band class. Our school is small enough that 5th and 6th grade band was required for all students, so I'm sure that didn't help, but in the small school world you get a lot of students who don't want to be there anyway, simply because band sounded like a better alternative to their only other choice. Plus, I can't complain about that being a factor when almost every other teacher deals with that in their subject area. With the HS Band, I worked hard on instilling procedures for class and was relentless in enforcing them from the start, and that ended up allowing us to be successful at contests in the Spring. But the other two band classes got way out of hand, many times to the point that I lost control. I'm sure different districts are different, too. I student taught at a very well off school with two veteran teachers, was quickly left on my own with different beginner classes, and never had those kinds of issues. But it was a daily struggle for me. I know I could do a much, much better job. I read all of your classroom management posts a couple of years ago, but I would love to hear everything you can tell me about what you do given your current level of wisdom. I really want to rock it out with this next program!

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