What are the common mistakes new teachers make?

Opinions of two veteran teachers

  1. Under plan their lessons – when you first start out, it’s best to over-plan rather than under plan. You do not want to be stuck at the end of the lesson with nothing left to run with. If you’re experienced, you have the skills and knowledge to fill in any unexpected gaps in the lesson. When you’re not, things quickly deteriorate.
  2. Over promise on discipline – If you say you’re going to do something, you have to do it. Rookie teachers often pull out their rocket launchers, when gently patting the gun at their waists would have done the trick. You need to work your way through the steps of discipline. Don’t threaten a kid with suspension, when a) you can’t actually give them a suspension, and b) the behaviour doesn’t warrant that as a punishment. Try not to leave yourself with nowhere to go.
  3. Under promise on discipline – I get it, all your teacher training has told you that it’s important to build rapport with your students. And it is. But make no mistake, you are not there to be their friend. It’s lovely if your students like you, but it’s far, far better that they respect you. You can be chill for the first few weeks if you want, but I guarantee you, by the first term break, things will be chaos in the classroom.
  4. Think they have to know it all – I know, it’s scary when a student asks you a question that you don’t know the answer to. It’s even more embarrassing when a student corrects you. But, you know what? Experienced teachers embrace these moments. It might be tempting to lie to answer a question, or to humiliate a student who corrects you, but this only leads to worse problems down the track. The mistakes you make, and the things you don’t know may just be the best teaching moments of your lesson as you search for the answer together. I’ve been teaching for about fifteen years, and I actively reward my students if they find a mistake I’ve made.
  5. Marking everything themselves – peer marking is the best thing in the whole world. It means less marking for you, and it allows students to develop their editing and critiquing skills. Why not leave those papers at school and write a rubric instead? Then the kids can practice critically analysing their peer’s work and you can watch another episode of Stargate. Or something.


  1. you are not there to be the student’s friend, you are there to teach and often that involves working them hard and making sure that they have to go over the subject until they grasp it. It requires a intellectual rigour that is sometimes missing in other professions
  2. Don’t expect to make loads of common sense inspirational observations at meetings and have everyone mark you as management material. Teachers tend to be type a personalities because how else are they going to convince 30 fifteen year olds to be studying physics.
  3. I’m afraid you shouldn’t expect praise when you do something right, but expect criticism when you do something wrong. I’ve seen this with student teachers many times and ultimately the teacher has to be their own north star with how well they think they’ve done. Be reflective, think about how you can improve your professional skills and performance, definitely. In the end the only real arbiter of performance when learning to teach is you.
  4. Don’t try to be someone else. In teaching you have to find your own voice, your own way of delivering a subject and most of all your own way of discipline. Student teachers often make the mistake of watching a more experienced teacher and trying to be them..they mimic delivery and even stance without realising that the other teach is working with the procedures they find works for them. Take away bits you like, individual tricks and tips that improve pedagogic delivery by all means but you have to find what works for you.
  5. They tend to think it’s about them. It’s not of course, it’s about the students and always needs to be about the students. It’s certainly not about the parents or the middle management or even the senior management. Teaching is a job that involves hard work, hard thinking and honesty with yourself.
  6. They tend to think discipline doesn’t matter if they’re nice. That’s rubbish of the worst kind, discipline always matters and if you go in soft you have nowhere to go. I’ve found some headway with what I call the ‘crusty jam sandwich’ approach.    You start hard discipline, get a little softer in the middle and end hard again. It’ll be those that define your experience.                                                                                         If you start the school year with firm steady and fair discipline and you find you have groups that rarely need it, congratulations, steadily relax as you see fit and using your judgement. However, if you go in soft in discipline and you get the ‘10F’ group, the year tens who don’t care and probably want to be there less than you do…you’ve nowhere to go and you’ll be fighting them for what scraps of discipline you’ve maintained for the rest of the year.
  7. Be prepared. If I had a $1 for every student or new teacher I’ve seen with minimal preparation and planning…I’d have over $100. You need to plan the time and if you over prepare…good, take some of that and use it the next time. Preparation is key and I firmly believe a new teacher should plan their lessons down to the 5 minute blocks. Also, have some short activities at hand, past papers or just short quiz things. If you can fill the 5 minute silence of a load of teenage minds, all the better but never…every give them not much to do.

12 Things Only Veteran Teachers Understand

There are some things you only understand if you’ve been in the classroom a long time. Veteran teachers, are you with me?


  1. Exactly how long five minutes is without a timer.

Veteran teachers develop these bizarre, highly accurate inner timers without counting down in their mind. If there were a casino game in Vegas for estimating increments of time between 5 and 90 minutes while distracted by various tasks, teachers would clean HOUSE.

  1. It’s okay when kids cry.

When I was a first year teacher, I remember that it would completely undo me if I made a seventh grader cry, even if the tears were from, say, me calling the assistant principal when said seventh grader threw a desk halfway across the room. Nowadays, I know how to provide the appropriate response to a crying child without taking their crying as a reflection of me as a person. This brings me to my next point:

  1. The behavior of others is not indicative of your value.

Whether it’s ugly words from a student in the heat of the moment, harassing emails from a parent, dismissive or devaluing treatment from an administrator, or idiotic comparisons drawn by public leaders, veteran teachers know their worth (and they know that it doesn’t come from the opinions of the less-informed).

  1. What the posture of in-class texters looks like.

Shoulders hunched, arms folded in toward crotch, eyes down. Boom. Roasted.

  1. Very, very, very few things are as big of an emergency as they seem.

When I get stressed out about my ever-growing to-do list for school, I ask myself three questions: Is someone bleeding? Will I ruin a child’s future or integral learning experience if I can’t get to this right away? Will my job security be threatened? If the answer is no to all three questions, it’s going to be OK.

  1. Nobody (or almost nobody) reads your lesson plans.

Exceptions: co-teachers, in-class support teachers, if you’re a brand new teacher, and the rare school in which an administrator will have a workload low enough (or a God complex serious enough) to make reading your lesson plans a regular priority.

  1. Pretending you know what you’re doing is nearly as effective as actually knowing what you’re doing.

I remember when I was student teaching turning to my supervisor at some point, shrugging, and telling her out loud, in front of children, “I have no idea what I’m doing.” Later she told me, “Oh, earlier when you told me you had no idea what you’re doing? Never say that again, even if it’s true.” She paused for a second, then said in a lower voice, almost ominously, “Never let them know.”

  1. Relationships are everything in teaching.

Everything—instruction, classroom management, parent communication—is easier when solid relationships are there. It took me years to realize that my “tough” classes stayed difficult throughout the year because they could sense that I thought they were my tougher classes, even if I swore up and down (even in my own mind) that I treated them the same.

  1. Fairness isn’t treating everyone exactly the same.

It’s giving each person what they* need to be successful. I once heard this referred to in a training as “responsive consistency.” I liked it so much I wrote the term down on a Post-It note that I lost almost immediately, but I think “responsive consistency” is pretty close.

  1. The satisfaction of bringing a bag of work home over a holiday break.

Even though you and anyone who shares your home knows full well it will remain untouched.

  1. A school is only as good as its administrator.

I wish more administrators knew this, and I wish fewer teachers felt guilt about “leaving their students” when they have to step out of toxic environments. Teachers don’t leave schools; they leave bosses.

  1. It gets easier, but it also doesn’t.

Yes, many things about teaching get easier as you go along. But is it ever entirely predictable? Is it ever the same year after year? Is it ever not exhausting? Ask these questions to any veteran teacher. It’ll give them a good laugh.

Source: https://www.weareteachers.com/veteran-teacher-truths/