As a first year teacher you will undoubtedly make your share of mistakes. The upside of making mistakes is that it will help you to gain the real teaching knowledge and awareness that your university cannot offer you in a student teaching program.
The downside is that there are mistakes that you should avoid from the very beginning. These are mistakes that will return to haunt you and will be quite unforgiving when you try to reverse your actions. Being aware of these ahead of time will prevent a multitude of heartaches and frustration during what will be the most challenging year of your career.
Crossing the Line between Friend and Teacher
As a new teacher, it is normal to be nervous about being accepted. Unfortunately some teachers will do anything to be accepted and as a result, end up crossing the line between being friends with their students and being their teacher. This is not to say you cannot be friendly with your student, however, you must know when to draw the line, otherwise you invite your students to disrespect you and all plans for classroom management and discipline are lost for good.
Failing to Be Clear with Expectations
Students seek stability and consistency and this should be a staple when it comes to clarifying your expectations with regard to classroom standards. Some teachers will set the academic expectations and then fail to follow through with those standards. The result is students that do not take the teacher seriously when it comes to assignments and classroom performance in academics. Set your expectations, make them clear, and then follow through with consistency.
Inconsistency with Classroom Management
Set your standards high for student conduct in the classroom during your first year and then follow through with disciplinary consequences. Some teachers make empty threats by failing to follow through with consequences. They ultimately lose control of the classroom because the students no longer take the disciplinary consequences seriously. Once the word is out, this is very difficult to reverse.
Arguing with Students
Teachers who argue with students are sacrificing their control over the classroom without realizing it. By arguing with your students, you are giving them permission to push your buttons and they will learn to use this to control you. As angry as you may get, stay calm and you will find they will quickly get tired of the lack of response and give up the game.
Failing to Keep Private Life Out of the Classroom
Some teachers will bring their private life into the classroom and discuss personal issues in front of the class. This is a really good way to lose your students, invite disrespect, and open yourself up to a host of problems from parents and administration. Depending upon the nature of the personal issues that were discussed with students, it could even cause you to be terminated. This is not to say that you cannot share some information about yourself to let your students know you are human too, however, this should be information such as sharing pictures of your pets or something similar that is considered “in general.”
Remember that it is beneficial to your professional growth to make mistakes during your first year, however, make a sincere effort to avoid the mistakes that are irreversible and you will come through with flying colors.