In our society, teachers are often held to a higher standard. While this is flattering, we are all bound to falter here and there. Whether that’s forgetting about having morning duty or saying something at the wrong time to the wrong student, we are all going to make mistakes in the classroom. The most important part of making mistakes is learning from them. Here are the top five classroom mistakes all teachers make and how to fix them.
Classroom Mistake #1 The Lesson Fumble
One of the easiest mistakes to make, especially when you are first learning about your new students in class, is the lesson fumble. This mistake can be characterized by:
- Not having enough work to do
- Forgetting to have a backup plan
- Blowing off making copies
While these can all cause a slight moment of panic, here are some solutions to these problems.
- Always have some extra practice worksheets available for those who are fast finishers or a quick review game such as a BUMP game or a Squares Your Brain game. You can also use centers to help keep students occupied.
- If something goes array and your original plan isn’t going to work due to technology failing, someone getting sick, or any other classroom mishap, have a backup plan. Your backup plan can simply be utilizing the sub folder that should have extra work in it. You can also use centers or reading time as a backup plan.
- The best solution to spacing off making copies is to always have your “to do” list done before you leave for the day. You never know if you are going to be sick, so having all your copies made at least a day ahead of time is ideal. If you can swing it, try to get everything printed off for the week on Friday before you leave. Even if you don’t use all the worksheets, you will have extra practices available or something done for the following week. This can also be a solution for not having enough work or forgetting a backup plan.
Classroom Mistake #2 The Did I Say That Slip
The next common classroom mistake is accidently saying something you really didn’t mean or saying something in a tone that was taken poorly. Just as teachers are humans, the students we interact with are humans as well. As people, we tend to take some things personally whether they are meant that way or not. In addition to this being naturally true, there are some days when we are just simply “not in the mood.” When this happens, it can be easy to accidently offend a student which can lead to an unpleasant parent visit.
If this ever happens to you, whether you say something you didn’t necessarily mean to a student or parent, the best course of action is to simply apologize and remember it for next time. We are not perfect. There are going to be days when we are on edge and may “snap.” While we should always try to leave the outside world outside of the school, some things have a habit of creeping up on us and we have a not so great moment. When this happens, make sure you apologize. After you have apologized, make sure you forgive yourself. The second part is usually the hardest part of this solution.
Classroom Mistake #3 The Inconsistency Infraction
While we are on the topic of being human, there are going to be times when we don’t treat two students the same. This shouldn’t be the case ever, but again, there may be a day when we are more sensitive and strict. On the other hand, we may have a day where we literally just don’t “care” anymore. In other words, there are going to be days when a battle we would normally fight is just not worth it.
The best solution to this is to have clear cut classroom expectations with clear cut consequences. If you have these displayed or written down, you can remain consistent more often at least on the big stuff. While there is still a possibility you might falter and have an inconsistency infraction in the classroom, you can always refer to the solution in classroom mistake number two. Apologizing can go a long way with a parent but make sure you are learning from these classroom mistakes and not apologizing for the same thing over and over again.
Classroom Mistake #4 The Communication Falter
One of the easiest classroom mistakes teachers can make is having a communication falter. Whether this is parent-teacher communication or communicating with students, it’s easy to make a communication mistake in the classroom. This can happen due to a last minute change, a forgetful moment on the teacher’s part, or because students were not listening properly.
When a communication falter occurs, the most important thing you can do is communicate what needed to be communicated in the first place. Then, again you should always apologize when you make a mistake. If there are last minute changes to fundraisers, concerts, field trips, or anything else that affects the whole class and you find the task of contacting every parent daunting, you can solve this by getting a room parent. A room parent, or two room parents, can be helpful when you need to get information out that affects everyone.
Classroom Mistake #5 The Self-Care Blunder
Finally, one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a teacher is forgetting to take care of yourself! This classroom mistake can turn chaos into a natural disaster right before your eyes. When you are not taking care of yourself, your stress is going to build. When this happens, you cannot be your best self; therefore, you are not being the best teacher.
The best solution for this classroom mistake is to take time to be something besides a teacher. You can do this by doing something you love that will help take away some of that teacher stress. How you choose to take care of you is completely individual, but remember more classroom, teacher, and every other mistake will continue to happen if you don’t take care of you.
Teaching is a hard job. Much like celebrities (with a lower wage), we are held to higher standard. Whether this is fair or not, it is a fact of life. If (or when) you make any of these classroom mistakes, make sure you always admit it, apologize, and forgive yourself. If you can follow those three simple steps, all your classroom mistakes are forgivable.