Tuesday Tips: What No One Ever Told Me about Teaching

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My goal has always been to create the type of teacher blog that I would want to read: a blog that tries to address all the things that no one ever told me about being a teacher.

Here’s the thing: in professional development and education certification programs, we spend a lot of time on the philosophical side of our profession, and trust me, I can give anyone a philosophical run for the money.  If you know me, you know that I can indulge in some excellent navel-gazing.

But I created the Tuesday Tips series on this blog to address some of the more practical questions of the profession.  

For this post, I’m going to list some of the questions I think teachers REALLY want answered. So that I can be more helpful to my readers, or perhaps just to prove to myself that I’m not the only one sitting over here wondering about these things, I would love to have you comment with some of your own questions about the daily reality of teaching.  

I hope to address what I’ve learned about these questions in more depth in 2014.  

And beyond. This is getting to be a long list.


  • How do I grade this essay exactly? Wait, let me back up. How do I grade writing at all?
  • Do I have to grade all this? Will I ever have a social life again?
  • This assignment was terrible! Do I have to grade it?

Classroom Management

  • Have writing conferences with kids? But what do I do with all the other kids?
  • How come kids don’t stop talking when I’m addressing the class?
  • What if I’ve tried everything to help a student, and it’s just not working?
  • What if I really need a student to leave my room but I haven’t ever had to write a discipline referral for them or call their parents?
  • There are 33 kids in this room, and at any given time 15 of them are trying to talk to me. Help!
  • I’m trying to start class, and a student wants to discuss his absent work or her grade in the class.  What should I say?


  • How do I answer all this email?
  • How do I make a phone call or write an email to a potentially angry parent?
  • What if I have no working email addresses or phone numbers for a student?
  • A student just asked for a letter of recommendation. How do I do that exactly?


  • I have three meetings scheduled in one day! Two of them are at the same time. What do I do?
  • What are all these acronyms anyway?  IEP, ARD, STAAR, TAKS, AP, DEIC, PTSA, LEP, ELL, CTE? And wow, people talk so fast in conversations involving acronyms.
  • I thought I was supposed to be teaching. What is all this documentation I’m expected to do?
  • I got into teaching partly to build relationships with kids. How come I can never get out from under this paperwork to just have a conversation with a student?


  • How do I get supplies for my classroom?  I just need some manila folders already!
  • Do I have to spend all my own money for the supplies I need?

Physical Demands

  • How do I dress for this school building?! It’s 30 degrees outside and 80 inside. Apparently someone loves the furnace.
  • I can use the restroom when?  I can’t leave the kids alone?  How do I train my body to have a teacher bladder?
  • How can I eat my entire lunch in 28 minutes?
  • How do I plan for a sub the next day when I wake up at 3:00am with a fever and chills?
  • It’s 3rd period, and I don’t feel well. What do I do?
  • I’m at school at all hours for tutorials or just to get some work done. Will I be able to at least go home to let my dog out?

School Secrets

  • Am I allowed to talk to the principal? How would I do that anyway?
  • How do I get into the school building on a Saturday?
  • Who around here can answer all these questions?

Your turn!  What are the questions about teaching that you REALLY need answered or the issues you need help with?  Trust me, I don’t have it all figured out, but I believe that just asking the questions publically can be a great first step.


  1. Great questions! I think about many of these so often. I’ve also been thinking a lot about how we really need to ask hard questions and be more vulnerable in these public forums — blogs, Twitter. I think our profession needs to share our weaknesses as much as our strengths!


  2. Questions I’ve had are:
    How do I get the classes attention on collaborative days without sounding too mean?
    How do I teach expository essay writing and read a whole reading selection at the same time?
    How do I teach a slow enough pace in order to reach my LEP/ELL/504/SPED students but not so slow that my higher students begin to resent me?
    Is it okay to ask for things like books and crap ? 🙂


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