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Common first-year teacher mistakes? (high school)
Old 09-18-2018, 05:28 PM
 
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Hi all,

What are common first-year-teacher mistakes to be aware of? And how do you avoid them?

Thank you.


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Old 09-19-2018, 07:09 AM
 
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Sorry, should've included some more background on me. Years ago I taught for a year. Fairly young teacher. Made my share of first-year teacher mistakes. Thought, "never again!". Now reconsidering going back, but want to see if other teachers' first-year mistakes are the same as mine.

My biggest problems were: too many hours grading, and taking student misbehavior/apathy too personally.

Did I mention the mountains of grading? In that regard, I may have failed to seek out techniques to reduce the amount of grading.

Thanks.
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Old 09-19-2018, 08:14 AM
 
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The most common one I have seen is failing to really recognize the immaturity of high school students. Many young student teachers think that they will fare well in high school because “students will relate to me because I am young.” High school kids look (and sometimes act) like young adults—but in fact they are still children in most respects. Their capacity for decision making and planning is limited. Many of them are surprisingly naive and innocent. So don’r think you can be their “friend”. You are an adult and they are children, despite outward appearances. My advice is to maintain your adult persona at all times and keep a professional attitude and distance from your students. I don’t mean being unfriendly, but rather not being too chummy, if you know what I mean.
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Old 09-19-2018, 09:48 AM
 
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Thank you, Lisa. I remember it feeling like a tricky balance to be able to use my sense of humor in class to help manage difficulties, while at the same time not letting students take advantage. I think I ended up bouncing between being too jocular and being too strict.
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A few things
Old 12-16-2018, 12:12 AM
 
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Be tough on them academically. Don't worry about whether they lie it (or you) or not.

Be human and real (yet still professional), but, most importantly, above all else, don't try to be their friend

Don't take anything personally.

Expect something out of them behaviorally. They're going to try to tell you that Mr./Ms. So and So used to let us do whatever (something you shouldn't allow them to do); don't let them.

Never believe what students tell you about other adults.

Never believe what students tell you about anything, period.

If they're complaining about you, you're doing something right.

Give Ds, but don't fall too many kids.

Fly under the radar and don't make enemies m be humble.

Don't rely on admin to support you when it really comes down to it. Try to keep as many situations as you can out of their hands.

Don't feel like you have to save the world, work 100-hour weeks, or do things that parents should be doing. Empower kids with personal responsibility (I know those are bad words these days).


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Old 12-23-2018, 05:04 PM
 
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When you have a major assignment or project assign a range of due dates ( period one due Monday period 2 Tuesday etc) That way you can grade them a few at a time. Also don’t feel you have to grade every assignment.
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Old 06-03-2019, 03:16 PM
 
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I am an elementary teacher finishing up my 7th year teaching this week. I can tell you some common mistakes that any first-year teacher (regardless of grade level) will often make. (I *may* have made a few myself!)

1) Expecting everything to be perfect, and expecting to be the perfect teacher immediately. You will make mistakes. Your first year will not be "stellar". I felt bad looking back on my first class because they were kind of like my "guinea pigs" but that's just the way it goes. A lot of stress and emotional distress comes from the pressure you put on yourself. So...relax and go easy on yourself! It will help with the burn out you will feel.

2) Thinking you have to "know it all" and "get it all right" in front of your experienced colleagues and principal. Ask for advice, take criticism and be open to new things. That will impress people more than "knowing it all".

3) Keep it simple. You probably have some amazing ideas you want to implement right away in your classroom. Just...keep it simple. Maybe try one or two things the first year, save the rest for year 2 and 3. You are going to be overwhelmed already. Don't add extra work for yourself! One example...I had a colleague who started teaching the same year I did. She had this amazing idea to connect with parents. She was going to call every parent at least once a week to tell them something positive that happened in the classroom. This is a great idea in theory because too often the only parent communication tends to be negative. However....within a few weeks, she wasn't able to keep it up!

4) Keep a journal or notebook. You are going to come up with great ideas, see great ideas in other classrooms, etc. write them down. You are also going to have lessons that flop. Write those down too. You think you will remember it all next year....but you won't!!

5) Keep a balance between "toughness/strictness" and "being their friend". Too much of one or the other is not good. If you are only their friend, they won't take you seriously. However, often you get the furthest with behavior issues if you connect with your kids. Find a balance.

6) You don't have to grade everything! Even in high school. I do "spot checks" in 2nd grade. The kids bring me their page (like math problems). I pick one or two to grade. If those are right, I give them a star and they take it home. If they are wrong, then I continue grading the rest of the page and work with the kid to figure out the mistakes. I only ever completely grade assessments and projects. You can adopt some sort of version of this. Like homework....you can spot check them and then mark it as "complete" instead of giving them a grade. Seriously...don't spend all your time grading!!! Waste of time. Save your time to lesson plan and rest instead! (Do grade assessments though)

7) This might be different for older grades, but probably not that different. Communicate with parents BEFORE it becomes a huge issue. Being proactive will save you a lot of trouble. Instead of a phone call saying "Jonny hasn't completed any homework all term and looks like he might fail the final" start with "I noticed Jonny hasn't turned in the last two homework assignments. I am just calling to check on him to make sure things aren't too overwhelming." You will get better results that way.
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