Wednesday, June 24

My Biggest Mistake as a New Teacher


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Being a new teacher is not easy. I like to think of your first few years in the classroom like this; you barely know how to ride a bike and suddenly, people start throwing things at you and yelling, “catch!” You simply do your best to catch every flying object while simultaneously trying to keep your bike from toppling over. Being a new teacher is a stage five juggling act that you are in no way prepared for. I struggled hard as a new teacher. I made countless mistakes as a new teacher, but one stands out above the rest. Read more as I share my biggest mistake I made as a new teacher and what I learned from it.

 My Biggest Mistake as a New Teacher

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When I started my teaching career after graduating college in December, I was offered a long term substitute position in a third grade classroom for the remainder of that year. I remember the feeling of joy and disbelief that I was really going to be a teacher and have my own classroom. I had visions of amazing lessons and sweet kiddos who would love me instantly, however, reality hit me hard in the face right on day one. You see I was the fifth teacher to try and take over and lead this group of third graders after their original teacher had quit just a few short months into the school year. Student behaviors were beyond challenging and I was fresh off the boat with no mentor teacher (because I was technically hired as a long term substitute). I was in way over my head and drowning. Honestly, as I look back on that time now I can’t help but laugh at it all.

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Teaching is NOT easy; I made countless mistakes and learned as I went. That point brings me to what I really wanted to tell you, my biggest mistake as a new teacher. You see I had dreamed about being a teacher since I was in middle school. I feel like teaching really is a calling, and is something you just know that you were destined for. I dreamed of this job for so long and now that I was finally here, I was failing miserably. I so desperately wanted to do a good job and be the teacher I had always envisioned. That was my biggest mistake as a new teacher. I know you’re thinking “wait what?” right now, so allow me to explain. I so desperately just wanted to be a good teacher that I tried everything and anything any teacher advised me, even if it didn’t jive with me as a person. I saw veteran teachers who had spectacular classroom control and I tried to do exactly as they did, the same ways they did. I tried behavior management techniques that I hated. Nothing felt right and I was still, in my eyes, failing with my class. I was so focused on being good at teaching that I forgot all about who I was as an individual. I forgot about my strengths, what makes me special, and I just tried to do what I saw other teachers doing. After so much time struggling I have finally learned that you have to know who you are as a person in order to be the best teacher you can be. Once you know who you are, you can learn what type of teaching style best fits your personality. So new teachers, do you know your teaching style?

There are five traditional teaching styles.
Authority: Teacher centered. Typically includes long teacher lectures/ lessons where students are expected to listen and take notes.
Demonstrator: Teacher centered. Teacher shows students what they need to know through presentations, activities, and more.
Facilitator: Teacher guides students. Teacher will help facilitate student develop skills and retain knowledge through activities and more.
Delegator: Student centered. Teacher allows students to lead learning in experiments, provide student feedback, and have discussions/ debates.
Hybrid: A blended model of the teaching styles. This style blends the teacher’s interests and personality with those of the students.

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In the beginning of my teaching journey, I tried a great deal to be an “authority” style teacher. This works great for some people, but good Lord it is so not my personality. Through my first three years of trial and error I discovered that I was a “hybrid” style teacher. Now that I knew my teaching style I could research, try, and learn instructional and behavioral techniques that fit with that model. I’m happy to say that I now know exactly who I am as a teacher and I feel darn good about the work I do. I know myself as a person and the teaching style that blends with my personality.
If you are a new teacher, I encourage you to learn from my big mistake I made as a new teacher and go learn your teaching style. Take time and brainstorm what you want your ideal classroom to look like and sound like. Picture what you will be doing and what your students will be doing. How do you feel in this space? Do you see kiddos actively listening while you deliver a fantastic lesson at the front of the room? Do you see yourself listening and leading students in accountable talk and deep discussions? All five styles can lead to sensational learning opportunities for your students! Please do not fall into a trap of thinking you have to be one style to be considered a good teacher. Take it from me and learn from my biggest mistake as a new teacher; if you stay true to yourself and find your own teaching style, you will become a better teacher than you ever imagined.


Looking for some FREE tips, strategies, and more to help you rock your first few years in the classroom? Click the Download button to get a copy of my FREE Top 10 Tips for New Teachers Ebook!




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