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My Most Common Teaching Mistake

I regularly find myself questioning some of my behaviours and actions in my classroom and wonder how I could have handled a situation better. But, you know what….we all make…

CommonMistakes | topnotchteaching.comI regularly find myself questioning some of my behaviours and actions in my classroom and wonder how I could have handled a situation better.

But, you know what….we all make mistakes. Even the best teachers I know make mistakes now and then. And you know what, it’s generally the same mistake that I can’t stop making. Do you have this too?

The mistake that I can’t seem to stop making is:

Not Asking For Help

Yep, that’s me all over. You may not think this is a biggy, but believe me it can lead to all sorts of problems both within and outside of the classroom.

I began my teaching career with such enthusiasm and hope. I was going to be able to help shape young peoples’ lives. I couldn’t wait to get started. But then reality kicked in. I quickly grasped that the realities of teaching were so far from the ideal I had painted in my head about teaching.

I definitely had a certain amount of self-expectation, and there were expectations placed on me by other teachers, the principal and parents.

You know I coped quite well at first, but then when things didn’t go to plan, or fit the picture in my head, or didn’t meet my self-expectation, that’s when it all started to get too hard. But when you’re new at something and you think that the members of the school community expect a certain level of skill, then it’s so hard to ask for help.

I found that teaching can be a pretty isolating profession at times. We’re locked inside our classrooms and we don’t really know what’s going on in other teachers’ classrooms. It’s easy to get bogged down with the day to day running of the class and not ask for help.

I think teachers (or maybe it’s just me) are a bit of a proud bunch, maybe we don’t like to ask for help because we don’t want to appear to look like we don’t know what we’re doing. But what I’ve come to realise is that there is such a wealth of experience in schools and some fantastic teachers who are only too willing to help if they are asked.

And so why do I keep making this mistake….Well I think it’s because with each new school and each new classroom I have a new set of kids with their own dynamic that is ever changing. Each group of kids has their own set of complexities; I need to work out how I fit in and how I can help their learning.

Just when I think I’ve got this thing of teaching under control I realise that I will need to stay on my toes, because teaching is not stagnant. The one thing I do know about all the kids I have taught and all the classrooms I have gone into, is that I am there to help with their learning.

So what’s your biggest teaching mistake? Do you keep making the same mistake over and over?

Graphic Credits: Teaching Super PowerLittle Red’s Schoolhouse & Jessica Stanford.

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  1. Bobette

    I’m right in that same boat with you. Another mistake that I make is no matter how good my intentions I procrastinate on getting paperwork, grades taken and data collection. I procrastinate and then almost kill myself trying to get it all done causing mistakes & sloppiness where it doesn’t have to be.

    • Melinda

      Hi Bobette,

      Yes the dreaded paperwork can definitely be a ‘chore’. I’m like this when it comes to writing reports….I know I must do them, and I know long in advance when they’re due, but I just can’t seem to start. I was like that at University too…always leaving things to the absolute last minute!

      Thanks for sharing your common teaching mistake!

  2. Melinda S.

    Hi…I’m a Melinda, too 😉

    I struggle with having somewhat idealistic expectations of what I can do with each year’s new class and get disillusioned every year by Christmas…you’d think I’d learn, but am always hoping the last year’s experience will inform the following year. In some ways it does, but I don’t give myself credit for improving the little things, like routines, time management, etc. I also often forget to allow for the personal life situations that so influence our everyday lives…carries over into our professional life, too. So…this summer I’m working exclusively on me…my interests, my health, and trying to be reflective rather than reactive to the thousand and one things I know I don’t do well! I’m my harshest critic…aren’t we all?

    Thinking of asking a fellow teacher to pray for me daily and vice versa….share some things I struggle with in the classroom and help keep me accountable for negative thinking….

    • Melinda

      Hi Melinda,

      What a great name you have!

      Ahhhh yes acknowledging even the smallest achievements is so important. Because for some kids and some classes you might only ever be able to make small improvements.

      Well done to you for taking time over your break for you!!!


  3. Keisha

    I think one of my greatest mistakes is not setting expectations yet still being surprised when children don’t meet those expectations. We can’t assume a child knows what we want from them or assume they’ve learned specific behaviors at home. We need to set guidelines and teach them how to follow those guidelines.


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