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 Mistakes to avoid when teaching

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HAMADA
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PostSubject: Mistakes to avoid when teaching   Tue Nov 29, 2011 8:02 am


Think of mistakes as
opportunities to learn. Many of the mistakes you will make will be
unavoidable. However, there are some mistakes, common to beginning
teachers, that are avoidable. What follows is a list of the mistakes
that new teachers tend to make most often. Keep these in mind for more
success in your career.

Mistake #1: You want your
students to like you and therefore hesitate to discipline students
accordingly. This is probably the most common mistake new teachers make.
Believe it or not, students want boundaries. Let students know
immediately what your rules or guidelines are and what the consequences
are. Then, enforce them fairly, firmly, and consistently.

Mistake #2: You avoid asking
for help. Teaching can be an isolating experience. You enter your room,
shut your door, and you are on your own—or so many new teachers think.
Remember: Your best resources for help and advice are in the classrooms
next door or down the hall. If your school does not provide you with a
mentor-teacher, seek one out yourself. Beginning teachers need and
deserve support and guidance.

Mistake #3: You are constantly
bringing school work home so that you have no leisure time at all. The
first year of teaching is usually the hardest. Indeed, some veteran
teachers say it was the hardest year of their lives. You feel
unprepared, you have a mound of papers to grade, units to plan, parents
to talk to . . . the list is endless. It is vital, however, to schedule
time for yourself and your family. Take time to decompress
occasionally.

Mistake #4: You act in a
less-than-professional manner in an attempt to relate to your students.
Remember that you can be friendly with your students without being their
"friend." Always keep in mind that you are the adult professional and
act accordingly. You can be caring and kind and still remain the
professional.

Mistake #5: You become involved
in school "politics." Avoid this at all costs. If your school's faculty
lounge is a hotbed of controversy and gossip, stay far, far away from
it.

Mistake #6: You overextend
yourself by volunteering too often. Learn to say "no" in a polite way.
Granted, there will be some duties that you simply cannot avoid;
however, try to limit what you take on your first year. Concentrate your
efforts on your classroom, your students, and yourself.

Mistake #7: Your students are
not living up to your expectations and therefore you think you are a
failure. This is common for beginning teachers. It is important to have
high expectations and lofty goals that are realistic. Are your
expectations age appropriate? If you are unsure, ask other teachers. It
is also important to remember that you are not teaching in a vacuum.
Students come to you with varying abilities, different socio-economic
backgrounds, and parents who may or may not be supportive.
Ask yourself: Am I teaching to the best of my ability? Am I doing those
things which will help my students improve? Do I have the required
knowledge to teach this particular subject/lesson/activity? If your
answers are yes, then continue as you have been. As time passes, you
will become more proficient at teaching. If, on the other hand, you do
not have the required knowledge needed, then seek help. Ask veteran
teachers, do research online, take classes or workshops, read books on
the topic, or visit your school district's media center to see what
resources they offer.

Mistake #8: You take home all
the problems of the day. Leave the problems at school. They'll be right
there waiting for you when you return. You need time to refresh and
rejuvinate yourself.

Mistake #9: You ignore small
behavior problems in hopes they will go away. Small problems grow into
big problems. Take care of the small problems immediately with an
appropriate response. For example, if a student is quietly whispering
while you are teaching, get the student's attention and then shake your
head in a firm manner. If the student continues to misbehave, take
stronger measures. Some students try to "test" the teacher to see how
much they can get away with. If you fairly and consistently discipline
students, this should not be a problem. Remember: You teach what you
tolerate.

Mistake #10: You do not have a
clear set of rules or guidelines. This should be one of your first
priorities. Create (or allow your students to create) a set of classroom
rules or behavior expectations. Post these in the room. At the
beginning of the year, go over each rule or expectation with your
students. Give students examples and non-examples of following the
rules. Make sure students know what the consequences are for not
following the rules. Remember to be firm, fair, and consistent when
enforcing the rules.
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