Tips from the Pros provides a venue for member-to-member dialogue. Professionally Speaking invites teachers to participate by offering their philosophical perspectives and practical advice for day-to-day life on the job.

Wish I'd known...

This issue's question:

What is the one thing you were never taught but wish you'd known about teaching?

Members whose questions or responses are selected for publication receive an Ontario College of Teachers portfolio and pen.

Here are some of the responses we received.

Find a mentor

...that you don't need to be on your own. If your school does not pair you up with a mentor teacher, find one. This person can be a department head or a colleague. Ask questions! You don't have to feel lonely or expect to know all the answers. Better to ask questions now than to ask for forgiveness later.

Louis Lim is department head for mathematics at Unionville High School.

Classroom discipline

I wish I'd been taught more about classroom discipline. With my own classroom it was totally different than walking into the class of an associate teacher who had already set the rules for the students. I found that when I had my own classroom it was a learning experience trying to find things that worked and didn't in terms of discipline.

Maria Provost teaches FSL to Grades 9-12 at Holy Cross School in Windsor.

Double the shoes

I wish I'd known that teachers, just like our students, need to have indoor and outdoor shoes. I now know that the surest way to make enemies with school custodians is to spread mud around the school after yard duty! It is also quite embarrassing to be walking around all day with mud up to your knees.

Lynne M. Fielder receives her Bachelor of Education degree from Queen's University in June 2004. She completed her practicum at Truedell Public School in Kingston.

Whole lot of tears

.that teaching makes you cry - from frustration with a student who just doesn't get it no matter how many different ways you try to teach it, from sharing grief with a student who's lost a loved parent, from exhaustion at the end of a painfully long day, from joy (in front of the class) when the music teacher has them sing Over the Rainbow just for you, from anger when a student you counted on lets you down.

But when you cry from happiness when that one student finally does get it, that makes all the other tears worthwhile.

Janice O'Neil teaches Grade 5 at Greenbriar Public School in Brantford.

Trust yourself

...that you need to trust yourself.

Some experienced teachers have forgotten their own early years. It's important to strengthen your shock absorbers and not to lose faith in your own abilities. Your critics can unknowingly help you to fathom hidden capabilities. Good luck!

Punam Ohri teaches Grades 4 and 5 at Lambton Park Community School in Toronto.

Also in this issue

Advice of special interest to beginning elementary teachers.

Next issue's question

Lynne M. Fielder, who graduates this June from Queen's University, would like to know:

What is your most valued classroom rule? (No sharpening pencils when I am talking? No saying "shut up"?)

Submit your answer (50 words or less) online.

And while you're there, tell us what you would like to know from colleagues - across the province and around the world.