By Teachers, For Teachers
Whether you are a new teacher just starting out, or a seasoned veteran, your goal as a teacher is the same: To create a positive learning environment for your students. However, you are only human and you will make mistakes throughout your career. Even with the best intentions you may unintentionally complicate situations. To help you avoid these "mistakes" and make your life (and job) a lot easier, try avoiding these common teacher traps.
Having an Unorganized Classroom
Teachers by nature are naturally organized people. I don't think I know one teacher that I would consider "unorganized." But, I have seen classrooms where I thought, there is definitely a better way to organize this room. Before school even starts make sure you have a filing system set in place. You will not believe how much paper your class will accumulate in a matter of days! Utilize totes, boxes, filing cabinets, or any other organizational item you have in your classroom. Once students get in the routine of where they must place homework papers, you will be thankful that you had a system set it place.
Being their Students' Best Friend
Everyone likes to be liked; it's natural to want everyone to like you. But remember, they are your students and not your friends. New teachers especially tend to fall into this trap. They go to school in the mindset that they want to be the "nice" teacher and will do anything to appease their students. Remember you are the adult; your main focus is to educate, figure out how to motivate students, and earn the respect of them, that's all.
Not Learning Each Students' Name Quickly
One of the worst things a teacher can do is not know one of their students' names. It is essential to learn names quickly if you want to create a rapport, learn how to motivate students, and lessen anxiety during the first few days of school. Learning more than 20 names may seem overwhelming at first, but there are tricks out there to help you. Greeting students by name each morning, wearing name tags, and using a mnemonic device are just a few ways you can be sure to learn names. Other options are playing the name game, creating rhymes, and associating relating names will help too.
Keeping Parents Out of the Loop
Research has shown that parental involvement in school is imperative if you want students to have a successful school year. The worst thing you can do is avoid parents’ emails, or keep them from having the opportunity to be a part of their child's education. Embrace parent volunteers and encourage them to be a part of their child's education. It will not only help your students be successful, but it will make your job easier too!
Inconsistent Classroom Management
This usually pertains to new teachers because of their lack of experience. Classroom management is something that has to be consistent in order for it to work. Start the year off by explaining the rules and their consequences and do not waiver. Once students see you are inconsistent and that you are interested in learning how to motivate students with the rules, they will take advantage of that. If you feel your rules are a bit too extreme, then change them, but not until a few months have gone by and students know you mean business.
Stopping Abruptly and Calling on Students
One of my biggest fears as a child was to get called on in class and not know the answer. The worst thing a teacher can do to a student is to intimidate them, and make them feel so uncomfortable that they don't want to speak in class. Avoid stopping mid-lesson and randomly calling on students. Try getting students to actively participate by giving them a few minutes to think about the question, or put them in groups to discuss the answer.
Not Asking for Help
There will be times that you will not have the answer and that is perfectly fine. This is the time to go to a colleague and ask for assistance. Your fellow teachers are there to help, so throw your pride aside and ask away.
What do you think are teacher's worst mistakes? Please share in the comment section below.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who draws on her 15 years of professional experience in the education system. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Guide to Elementary Education for About.com, where she provides educational information and lesson plans for teachers across the United States.