Mistakes New Teachers Make – Top Tips

Mistakes New Teachers Make - Top Tips
You can be great in your own way.

Mistakes are positive – it means you are learning.

Let me tell you about the mistakes new teachers make. I have been teaching since 2000 and I have made every teaching mistake in the book. I have learnt from each one, and I have moved on as a better teacher after each mistake.

Oddly, when I review new teachers working with me, I get to see at least a few of them in other teachers. I use my own experience to guide my fellow teachers along and become better teachers.

Mistakes New Teachers Make – Not Being Hands-On Enough

I have been focusing too much on paper questions. However, this year I have been a convert into much more hands on maths teaching. My kids now have counters, beads and sit on a big carpet and work in groups. This is a complete contrast to when I simply focused on the nuts and bolts of maths and overlooked putting the learnt ideas to practical uses.

The first mistakes new teachers make are over the quality, quantity and frequency of marking. In my early days, I would lead the class, walk around the classroom and we would all pretty much have identical work in our books. If we have identical work and I am overwhelmed with planning… I would focus on fun lessons and planning. A big mistake as pupils need marking. And of course, 39 kids work quickly build up. I now mark regularly, correct all their errors, and send the work home regularly. This let’s parents see exactly where children are on a regular basis.

Another set of mistakes new teachers make are taking assemblies not seriously enough. In many schools I have worked at, a regular class assembly was a key feature of the work, cameras, parents, the works. However a teacher needs to also keep up to date with all their topics, science and curriculum work. The key trick is to pull out from these experiences the skills in drama, public speaking, art for props and general confidence boosting as a reason it is all worthwhile.

Mistakes New Teachers Make – Top Tips – Don’t start an Educational revolution in your first year…

Also believing a single idea will change the world each idea I have had has been based on making the world better for teachers. Some have worked better than others. All worked for a bit before someone had a bigger, better idea than me. A few even resulted me in being threatened with unlimited legal action if I didn’t stop. Ironically that came from an educational charity letting all their products being available for commercial use … and me misunderstanding the small print.

Another set of mistakes new teachers make is to gossip with colleagues about people more powerful than yourselves. You think what you say is being said in jest. In reality you can be certain in every social group there is a true snake in the grass. Your jokes will be repeated directly to them, out of context of course and make you look like a totally disrespectful Jack-ass. Then you will be simply replaced in September for no reason. I agree with this policy however as a negative teacher can poison a school far quicker than a positive teacher can lighten and energise a school. Keep this banter to family and non-teaching folks and definitely off social media.

Your friendly headteacher is not your friend – he can’t afford to be.

The mistake new teachers make is to think your big bosses as your friends. They are not. They are friendly towards you, but only while you are helping the school move in the right direction. That is the difference. They can’t afford to lose objectivity in their judgement over you. If you start moving in a direction which is a detriment to the school, expect no favours. The horrible roles of the headteacher are making sure children respect child safely and protection and also that the quality of the lessons and marking remain high. Why did I say it was horrible? Because this is one of the areas involving a boss being a boss and not a friend and taking actions a friend wouldn’t.

The big mistake I never have made however is that of not trying. Trying and failing is so much more fun that not trying and hence not failing and not learning in the process.

What are your worst mistakes you have made and how did you fix them? What other common mistakes new teachers make should I have listed? Please leave me a comment below.

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