7 Major Mistakes New Teachers Must Avoid

Now that you’re a teacher, you have an important reason to remind yourself about the role you’re playing in students’ lives. You can probably think of a few awesome teachers that gave you the guiding points to your future. However, you will also think of some that didn’t deserve to be called educators. They were frustrated, arrogant, too strict, too flexible, or simply not inspiring enough.

We all make mistakes. Are they serious enough to affect the students in a really negative way?

Let’s go through the 7 major mistakes new teachers must recognize and avoid.

Talking All the Time

The British Council has a great recommendation for its ESL teachers: they should talk less.

Let’s say you’re teaching a literature class and you ask one of your students: “How did you like the book? What did you think of the main characters? Were they too conflicted and confusing? What was the scene that left the biggest impression on you?”

Before the student starts answering your first question, they will forget all about the rest.  

Think of your own rule: you’ll speak for 40% of the time, and you’ll allow your students to engage in relevant discussions for the remaining 60% of the time.    

Assigning Too Many Papers

You want your students to benefit from the writing skills they will develop through the projects you assign. That’s why you expect them to complete several types of essays, a term paper, article review, and few other projects over a single term. If that’s the case, then you’ve gone too far.

EduGeeksClub is an essay writing service that provides devastating statistics on students cheating. They don’t order papers online because they are lazy - they do it because they don’t have realistic chances for completing all papers for all courses by the deadlines.

Grading Everything

Are you used to grading each and every assignment you give? That’s the wrong approach, because it makes the students feel like they are doing the work solely for a grade.

Assign fun projects, such as writing a Penzu journal and sharing some of the daily adventures with the class. Emphasize the fact that this won’t be a standard assignment for a grade. Motivate your students by explaining how the greatest writers of all times kept diaries, so they can follow the example to preserve their own memories.

Not Involving the Parents

Some parents can be too supportive of their children, so you’ll be the one to blame for all mistakes they make. Others can be too judging, so they will take your remarks too seriously and punish their children. The challenge can tempt you to minimize the involvement of the parents in the educational process, but would be a mistake.

When you get the support of the parents, your job as a teacher will become much easier. Inform them about the progress of their children and the important projects they need to support the students through.

Failure to Set Boundaries

According to the findings of a Gallup Poll on the theme “What Americans said about the public schools,” these were the words that best described the way a teacher made a difference in the respondents’ lives: caring, encouraging, attentive, strict/tough/discipline, challenging, good, and committed. You won’t find “being a friend” mentioned as the main characteristic of an influential teacher.    

New teachers usually try to earn the affection of their students through a friendly attitude. That’s okay, but you can only deserve some respect if you show them who the teacher in the classroom is.

Failure to Deliver What’s Promised

When you tell your students the test results will be published in four days, that’s exactly when you should share them. Their anxiety will grow on the day they are expecting the results, so they won’t be happy if they have to be in that position for an extended period of time.

Always keep your promises. That’s how you give a good example.

Inappropriate Discipline Tactics

I remember one day when my piano teacher kept me in the classroom for three hours, making me play the same composition over and over again, until I got it right. I was hungry, frightened, and tired. I got a terrible headache and I left the room crying.

If you have to discipline your students, you can assign a bit more homework, talk to their parents, or give them a lesson on ethics. Never yell or make them scared of you. Never give punishments they would remember for the rest of their lives.  

Now, are you ready to fix the mistakes you’re making as a new teacher? Can you think of other mistakes you’ve made? Remember: introspection is the key to progress.

Karen Dikson is a college instructor and creative writer from New Jersey. Her works have been published on HuffingtonPost and other educational resources. She loves teaching, helping her students succeed and achieve their goals. Connect with Karen via Twitter.