Things I did not learn in teacher college

The best leaders are the best learners


These are some things I wish I learned in my teacher training:

  • The goal is not classroom management, the goal is effective student learning. It may be that a well-behaved class is an excellent environment for learning, but the means by which you end up with that well-behaved class matter.
  • Most of your early lessons are going to be awful. Remember the ones that aren’t and build on your successes.
  • Connect with other educators as much as you can. You are each other’s best lines of support.
  • You are always in charge of your professional development. Any experiences which other people require you to do are training, not professional development.
  • Never stop learning. You should continue to explore your own subject area, because a teacher who is inspired by what they teach is more able to inspire others. Always take time to learn more about teaching, because what you learned in college is only part of the story.


Note: It may be that this advice was given to me during my time in teacher college, but I didn’t learn it then, and I sure wish I did.



  • You hit on a subject I have been mulling over – the widespread presumption that someone must be ‘qualified’ in order to fulfil some role, with the belief that a certificate is the only and necessary means.

    According to an Internet dictionary, qualified means :

    “having the abilities, qualities, attributes, etc., necessary to perform a particular job or task”

    It makes no mention of certification.

    What is taught is often what is easiest to teach and measure. What is often most important, are qualities and attributes, which cannot really be taught or readily measured.

    So the certificate that is the mandatory entry route is dangerously narrow in this and other disciplines.

    A professional footballer, for example, may retrain to be a coach, easily gaining his badges because of his footballing skills, but may fail as a coach because of a lack of empathy or patience.

    Does this trigger any thoughts?

  • linson Keil wrote:

    David, I am totally in agreement with you. In my experience as a child growing up, some of my best teachers have never gone to teachers college and obtain a certificate. They learn to teach by doing it over and over. To me the certificate is just the gateway to the pay package.

  • David Wees wrote:

    The relationship between certification (allowed to teach) and qualification (able to teach) is an interesting one. It is certainly true that there are people who are certified and not qualified, and people who are qualified, but not certified. A couple of questions I have are, can we reduce the number of people who achieve certification, but are not really able to teach, and can we open the door slightly into teaching for people who are qualified, but not certified.

    There are a few things I learned via my certification that I think helped me become a better teacher, specifically:

    • Relationships matter and so do boundaries,
    • Planning makes a difference,
    • You don’t have to teach with just "chalk and talk", there are other options,

    In some sense, my teaching certification helped me become a better teacher, but was by no means sufficient. My post isn’t so much about changing how we certify teachers as it is about teachers ensuring that they continue to grow.

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