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Classroom Management: Novice Teaching Mistakes to Avoid

Janelle Cox

What is the difference between a novice teacher and an experienced teacher? It would probably be safe to say experience. As you know, the longer that you are on the job, the more experience that you’ll gain. When you first start out as a novice teacher, you may be unsure of the classroom management ways that you teach, which may lead to making a few mistakes. However, as you gain more experience, you’ll gain more confidence and learn from these mistakes. We asked veteran teachers to reflect on their first few years of teaching and asked them what classroom management advice they would give themselves. Here are a few novice teaching mistakes and what you can do to fix them.

Classroom Management Mistakes: Teaching Without an Objective

Oftentimes, many novice teachers make the mistake of teaching without an objective. Having an objective not only helps the teacher have a clear purpose of what they want the students to learn and do, but it also helps the students know what is expected of them.

To ensure that your lesson will go well, you must have a purpose for what you are teaching. As you’re planning for the lesson, think about what you need your students to know, as well as what they‘re going to take away from the lesson. Once you know this, then you need to explain your objective to the students so they’ll know why they need to learn what you are about to teach them.

Cold Calling on Students

Reaching into a fishbowl full of students’ names and randomly calling on students is something many novice teachers do because they think it’s the “Fair” way to get their students to participate. However, doing so disempowers the students who actually want to answer, and creates fear in those who don’t want to answer. What it’s essentially doing is telling the students that the teacher has all of the power. If this is your only means of calling upon students to participate, then this is not an effective method. What successful teachers do, is use a variety of methods and strategies to get their students to participate, they use strategies like cooperative learning groups, inquiry, and technology.

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Making Tests Too Long

Many novice teachers make their tests too long. While assessing students’ work is an important part of learning, your goal is to test your students’ knowledge and skills, not their speed or how many tests that they can master. A test with 10-15 questions can be just as effective in determining the mastery of their skills as a lengthy, 50-question test. Try and keep tests short and to the point. If you want to see if your students can master several skills in one test, you don’t have to ask them a lot of questions on the same skill, just a handful of questions will give you what you need.

Avoiding Parents

Novice teachers sometimes avoid parents because they feel uncomfortable talking to them or giving them bad news about their child. This is a very bad mistake to make because parents and teachers must work together in order for a child to truly succeed in the classroom. If you feel uncomfortable giving a parent bad news about their child in person, then try writing it in an email first. Make sure that you sandwich what the student needs to work on, with something that they are doing well in the classroom. Remember, keeping parents in the loop is one the best things that you can do for your students. Parents are your partners, and the more you have a connection with them, the better it is for the student.

Teaching the Same Types of Lessons

Have you ever heard of the saying, “Variety is the spice of life?” That phrase holds true when it comes to teaching, too. Less-effective teachers are monotonous in their teaching, and always teach the same boring lessons in the same boring way, day after day, year after year. These teachers never learned to mix it up and try new things. The more variety that you have in the lessons that you teach, the more likely your students will be engaged. Try mixing it up with group work, technology, classroom presentations, skits, field trips, or even taking your lessons outdoors.

Never Using the Cooperative Learning Method

Cooperative learning is the ultimate teaching strategy when it comes to group work, because it gives each group member individual accountability in order for his group to succeed at their task. While many new teachers love to put their students into groups because they think it’s a great way for them to learn, some novice teachers forget that each student needs to be accountable for herself within the group. When students have to be accountable for themselves, as well as their group, it forces them to work harder at the task. Try using the jigsaw cooperative learning method. This strategy is especially effective because each student is responsible for one another’s learning, and students find out real quick that each group member has something equally important to contribute to the group in order for it to be successful.

Whether you are a novice teacher or a veteran teacher, all teachers make mistakes. Just remember to always give it your all, and learn from these mistakes.

What classroom management mistakes have you made as a novice teacher? Please share with us in the comment section below, we’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.


Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.