This is an article in the Total Teacher Transformation series. Click here for a complete table of contents.


As I suspected when I started this blog, there are a lot of teachers who don’t really have a strong grasp on how to be a great teacher. The number of emails and comments that I have gotten this year are a clear indication of that. When I take into account that only a small percentage of those who visit my site contact me in any way, I can only believe that the problem is far greater than we can imagine.

Is this you? Well, there is hope!¬†Beginning tomorrow, I’m going to start a crash course series on getting control of your classroom.

What? But it’s already May!
While most of us are approaching the end of the school year and it may feel like it’s too late to do anything useful, I think this is the ideal time to learn how to take control. Most of you won’t be teaching the same students next year, so you really have very little to lose if these tips don’t work. For us elective teachers out there, we may have the same ones for the next year or two or three. Even so, who couldn’t use a little boost in their respect at any time?

So here’s how it works
On Sundays, I will give a little preview of some of what the upcoming weeks holds. This will include links to other articles on my blog as well as from around the web. Sundays can be your sort of reading assignment days.

Each weekday for the next three weeks, I will post an article about getting control of your classroom. Each article will more or less be step-by-step as far as how I went from being a bad teacher to being well on my way to becoming a great teacher.

The fourth week will be geared more towards those of us who have learned how to get control of a group of children and are moving into addressing some of the things that I am doing to continue my pursuit of excellence in education.

Each Saturday, I will summarize some of what we went through in the previous week, highlight some reader comments, and give place for further discussion of some of the good, bad, and ugly things that happened in the week.

Let us know who you are
I would guess that more than 95% of all teachers go through this phase. Some are terminally stuck in the phase because they don’t seek a way out. Others are naturally gifted with the social and leadership skills to avoid any problems. But most of us suffer through it. The good news is that the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t an oncoming train!

If you’re going through this, or if you have gone through it, share your story in the comments. I’ve been starting to see some good reader interaction lately. I suspect that as I begin to address issues that are (or were) relevent to most of my readers, we’re going to see quite a bit of conversations in the comments. If you would like to follow along, be sure to select the checkbox next to the comment form to receive emails. Then come back and respond to questions other readers have.

Do you disagree with something I write in an article? Let me know. Do you disagree with another reader’s views? Let them know. Be civil about it; I don’t want to have to send anyone to the office here! Even if you’ve never commented on a blog — especially if you’ve never commented on a blog, use this opportunity to get your feet wet!

Oh yeah, also be sure to share the daily articles with your friends on Twitter. The more people involved, the more we all get out of the exercise!

Get started here!

By Joel Wagner

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.

5 thoughts on “Total Teacher Transformation Begins”
  1. Thanks for your blog … I appreciate your positive enthusiasm and dedication to doing what’s best for kids while keeping the overall health of the teacher intact. Great insights … your strength is how reflective you are about your own teaching. I’m a veteran mom (22 years in this field) …. and a newbie teacher (4 years in this field). I’m looking forward to the discussions on classroom management, and will pass your site on to my daughter, who will be a new high school English teacher next year!

  2. This sounds great! I’m in my seventh year of teaching, and, after about 5 years of things going really well for me in the classroom, this year I just had a tough group of kids that I haven’t found a complete management success for yet. Everything works for some but not all, and how it works with some comes out very inconsistently. I look forward to keeping up with the series.

  3. Awesome series! As a student teacher set to graduate in a week, blog series like this help a ton!

  4. Great idea, Joel. I can’t wait to read all of the conversations. It’s funny how people can be tossed into jobs without really knowing what to expect.

  5. The social leadership skills are often the key. I was in such a rocky place that there was not getting through it and coming out ahead–it would have taken just that sort of person to make it through being a first year music teacher in the situation where I found myself. I just don\’t have those kinds of skills. But then my story was pretty outrageous and that\’s why I chronicled it on the blog.

    This year I am not a choir teacher. I had shoulder surgery. I don\’t know if I will ever be able to go back.

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