“Forgive yourself for not having the foresight to know what now seems so obvious in hindsight.”
Over the past couple of years, as I've become more reflective in my teaching practice and grown my learning network, I've really tried to think about how I've changed as an educator since I started teaching. From my first few years of substitute teaching to the first couple of years in my current school, fast forward to the last few years, I have definitely grown personally and professionally. How often have you thought to yourself… I wish I knew…. then?
It's easy to look back at when we started our careers, and think about how we could have or should have done something differently. If only we had known... If only we could go back and try again. If only I knew…. What an impact that could have been made in our lives or more importantly, in the lives of our students, and those we lead and learn with.
But we all know it's easy to look back and think about how we might change things. We can beat ourselves up about not having the knowledge when it would have made a difference, but there's still something that we can do with that knowledge. We should take what we now know, all of those things that we wish we knew, and share our experiences with others. Use our experiences to help others to push through challenges, to take risks, ask for help when they need it, avoid isolation and connect with others. We can use what we now know to do better.
I have always been a fan of quotes because they help me to process my experiences and push my thinking. Other times they lift me up or I use them to lift others up. A quote by Maya Angelou, “When we know better, we do better” is what I keep in mind when I have those “I wish I knew” moments.
So why write this book?
When I started to think about things I wish I knew when I started teaching that would have made a difference in those first few years, I realized how much I have learned since then. The challenges and those experiences helped to shape the educator I am and have led me to help others who are starting on their own teaching journey. I started thinking about things that I wish students knew, like how to overcome the fear of failure, to understand the importance of learning, to know that it's okay to struggle.
What started as a book where I would share all of the things I wish I knew about teaching became a book about things that many educators wish others knew.
Like several of my other books, I sought stories from educators around the world, some within my network and others who I might have just met. I provided the open-ended prompt “Things I wish... knew” and asked them to share a story.
As the stories came in, I thought about how to best organize the book into sections because there were so many stories with great advice. I decided to separate the types of stories into advice for first year teachers, all teachers, advice for and from administrators, for parents, and everyone within and beyond the school community. It was not an easy task at first because the lessons shared are applicable to so many areas of education and life and work in general.
Why choose this book
My hope is that this book will be read by educators and even those who are not in education. When we hear from others, it leads us to share these stories and through our own reflection, to then share our own. We all have things that we wish we knew, that would have helped at another time in our life, something that would have made a difference or led us down another path. The best that we can do is to reflect and improve each day and to remember to share our experiences with others.
I am most proud of being able to share stories from 50 educators around the world. There is so much power in sharing our story and while it opens us up to being vulnerable, there is tremendous strength in vulnerability. As Brené Brown said, “When we deny the story, it defines us. When we own the story we can write a brave new ending.”
It's so important that we continue to tell our stories so that we can learn from one another and continue to grow personally and professionally, to be the best that we can be for our students, our family, and our friends. My hope is that this book and the many stories within will offer inspiration and push us all to reflect and to grow in our practice each day. We can always look back and wish that we could change something, but the key is to use that knowledge and make a difference now.
About the Author
Rachelle Dené Poth is an edtech consultant, presenter, attorney, author, and teacher. Rachelle teaches Spanish and STEAM: What’s nExT in Emerging Technology at Riverview Junior Senior High School in Oakmont, PA. Rachelle has a Juris Doctor degree from Duquesne University School of Law and a Master’s in Instructional Technology. She is a Consultant and Speaker, owner of ThriveinEDU LLC Consulting. She is an ISTE Certified Educator and currently serves as the past -president of the ISTE Teacher Education Network and on the Leadership team of the Mobile Learning Network. At ISTE19, she received the Making IT Happen Award and a Presidential Gold Award for volunteer service to education. She is also a Buncee Ambassador, Nearpod PioNear and Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert.
Follow Rachelle on Twitter @Rdene915 and on Instagram @Rdene915. Rachelle has a podcast, ThriveinEDU https://anchor.fm/rdene915.