#1: Trying to go it alone
When you first began your journey as a teacher you were eager to get started. Fueled up, on fire, and ready to hit the books! It's not until after we get going that we quickly realize just how many unanswered questions we still have. Is this the best lesson plan to help my classroom meet their objectives? If some of my children are struggling should I slow down my lesson or keep pushing ahead? The questions will come in as endlessly as the number of beautiful characters that walk through your classroom door throughout the years. The important thing to remember is that you are not alone. Do not hesitate to seek out help. Reach out to others for answers and suggestions from those around you with experience in the areas you are unfamiliar with. You don't have to go it all alone, look around you for support from your colleagues. Chances are, they are looking for support from you as well.
#2: Expecting perfection
As with any dream job, you have likely crafted a beautifully sculptured picture of exactly what teaching looks like to you. Since you first began dreaming of becoming a teacher you have envisioned how your classroom would look, where the seats would be arranged, the posters and visuals you have across your classroom walls, maybe even down to the sprouting fern sitting on your desk. You may have even played out scenarios in your head, rehearsing those lesson plans with glimmering enthusiasm shining out from the little faces that smiled up at you. Then reality happened, and it didn't end up looking anything like that perfectly sculptured picture in your head.
You may have fallen into the trap of believing that if you do not execute your lesson plans perfectly that your students won't learn, grow, or succeed. Teaching was never meant to be a perfect profession. Within your imperfections is hidden the perfect teacher that you are. Lesson plans can go horribly wrong, schedules can get thrown off, a minor accident in the classroom could push back this weeks spelling test. Life happens, even inside the classroom. There is no place in the classroom for the perfectionist teacher.
#3: Lacking classroom management strategies
Every year you are presented with an entirely new group of children. A classroom filled with new personalities and needs. By the end of the year, you will know each child's strengths, limitations, and learning styles, but you have to survive until then. From the very first minute of the first day of class, you need to turn chaos into calmness. Creating a code of structure is monumental when it comes to the success of the students in your classroom. This is done by creating a general classroom management strategy. A plan of action for you to fall back on in times of crises to handle complexities when they arise so that they don't leave you drained of the joy in your job. Having this plan of action prepared beforehand will save you and your students many stressful moments as everyone will know exactly what is expected. Keep in mind though, each child is different as will be each year's class and some strategies may need to be tweaked or changed to best fit the needs of your classroom.
#4: Avoiding parent contact
Being a teacher is a hard job, but one you do with boundless joy because of all the rewards that come from it. With all the pressures that naturally come with being a teacher and ensuring that your students succeed, parental contact can get pushed down the priority list pretty quickly. Reach out to your student's parents with opportunities for them to volunteer in the classroom. Parent volunteers not only let parents stay active in their child's education, but it can also lighten the load on you. Keep in light contact with a students parent that may be struggling, or even to send a quick message to let a parent know how well their child is doing. By keeping the lines of communication between parent and teacher open you will create a welcoming and comfortable environment for those times when communication becomes absolutely necessary.
#5: Trying to do it all
Burnout as a teacher is a very real thing. A never-ending pile of papers to correct, notes from home to sift through, lesson plans to construct, supplies to sort, the tasks on your plate can become daunting fast. Strive to avoid burnout by staying organized with weekly routines and to-do lists. Leave work at work and create downtime when you are at home to unwind from your day and meet the next refreshed and re-energized.
#7: Treating all students the same
While equality is necessary, as teachers we must remember that our students are each beautifully unique individuals that come to us with different needs. Lessons and assignments cannot be taught to all students the exact same way. Listen, observe, and adapt your classroom daily to best meet your student's needs.
#8: Taking it personally
One of the greatest mistakes we as teachers make is taking things personally. There will be moments, some days more moments than others, where something is said in a meeting or a student simply refuses to listen, do not take these as a personally reflection of yourself or your teaching abilities. There are many factors that go into a colleagues or students words or actions, that can have very little to do with you. Take a deep breath in these moments and allow yourself time to reflect on the best possible response to each situation as they come.
Making mistakes is a part of life, but they do not have to define your life. Evaluate your mistakes so that you can learn and grow and sculpt the truly picture perfect teaching experience you so diligently crafted in your dreams.