Mistakes during first year of teaching, did you make a lot of them?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by allyv, May 18, 2015.

  1. allyv

    allyv Rookie

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    May 18, 2015

    As the year winds down, I look back at myself and my teaching and I am beginning to notice a lot of mistakes I have, and continue to still make. Obviously, these mistakes are improved with time, and I learn by making them, but I can't help but feel terrible when looking back at myself, and doing things I said I would never do. For example, shouting at the students to get them quiet, or allowing students to turn in work late because I feel bad giving them a bad grade, or even being very lax when I see them take out their phones or go off task. The principal actually had to speak to me to tell me he saw a student listening to music while he was working in my class... I teach art, so if it helps with creativity, I used to let students listen to music, but I cut that out right away. Still though, I'm very embarrassed that the principal had to be the one to tell me about it. It makes me look bad and too lax, and thus, a bad teacher. It happened again today, and I was focused on a group of students working in the back, I completely neglected the students in the front of the room who rushed through their work so that they can play. One student even sat on another's lap and at that moment the principal walked in. The students felt very bad about being caught, but I honestly feel bad for not giving them enough attention so that they wouldn't feel like they could sit on laps. I guess I am having some guilt issues now, because I take teaching so seriously, and lately, I just feel my energy dwindling.

    I'm wondering if it is just because it is nearing the end of the year and I am just tired and ready to go, but at the same time, I know it's not an excuse to let my reputation as a teacher go so far down the drain. I am trying to tell myself that next year I won't make the same mistakes, but I can't help but feel guilty and ashamed for letting myself get this way :/

    And I guess I am sort of just venting now :eek: I don't have a lot of teacher friends, or friends who care at all about teaching or teachers, so it's nice being able to talk to people who've been there done that.
     
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  3. OneBerry

    OneBerry Comrade

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    May 18, 2015

    I made a lot of "mistakes" my first year... or did things that seemed like the best way at the time, but I have learned better since then. I feel like a made quite a few my third year, too (different mistakes - so that's good, I think). You learn more every year, and become a better teacher every year. At least, I hope to. It's good to reflect on things that you plan to improve about your classroom and teaching. Don't beat yourself up. :love:
     
  4. GeetGeet

    GeetGeet Companion

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    May 18, 2015

    Omg yes. Mistakes galore. Teaching is so nuanced and complicated that you are bound to make them. Every school, community, and student is different and there is no formula for being a good teacher for every situation. I still make mistakes all the time, 10 years in. I think that if you think you aren't making mistakes on SOME level, there's a problem, because teaching can always be improved on some level if not for any other reason that you have new kids every year.
     
  5. GeetGeet

    GeetGeet Companion

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    May 18, 2015

    I teach art also, and I have a policy that kids are allowed to listen to music as long as the volume is low enough to hear what's going on and that they don't listen while I am talking/demonstrating. Listening to music and making art often go together, so I am surprised it's a problem in your school!

    I can be lax sometimes too, here and there. Sometimes you have to make a judgement call about what to do when kids are doing normal kid stuff (listening to music), and that comes with time. There are some kids that, if you take a complete hardline about the rules, they'll shut down. Sometimes those kids are the same ones that need the art room. That said, it's not like I will not hold those kids accountable, I will just approach it differently.

    In my opinion, you should try to err on the side of caution and be as strict as possible in your first few years. As you gain experience, you will learn more about who you are as a teacher and will be better able to decide which battles to pick with your students and to stand up for your policies (listening to music).
     
  6. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    May 18, 2015

    All of us make a few mistakes a day. Don't be so hard on yourself. Celebrate being a reflective practitioner who looks over the day and decides how to adjust and improve. :love:
     
  7. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    May 18, 2015

    Did you explain to your principal why you allow students to listen to music and the parameters you set on it? I think it sounds perfectly acceptable, and I'd argue that your only "mistake" there was not backing yourself up with research on why listening to music while working should be acceptable policy in an art classroom (or any classroom, for that matter). Of course, your principal might still veto it, but you would "look" better if you were able to provide justification for your classroom policies when your admin questions them.
     
  8. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    May 18, 2015

    I think I made more mistakes my first year of teaching than in my next 3 years combined. I worked really hard, but it was such a challenge. Don't beat yourself up for your first year, but make sure you learn as much as you can from it, so that the 2nd year feels very different. I spent a lot of time that summer planning how I was going to do things differently, and it really helped.
     
  9. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    May 19, 2015

    I make mistakes every year. I've come to terms with it by reminding myself that I tell students to learn from their mistakes and not feel mortified by them. Failure is a part of learning and improving. I've really come to understand that as a teacher.

    The only mistakes that I really regret are mortifying social faux pas, like me saying "Oh you're leaving already?" during my first year to a teacher who was leaving 30 minutes after contract time and had 2 kids to take care of at home. I was just so used to staying until 5 my first year that I thought everyone did. Didn't say it to be snarky though I'm sure it came off that way. It didn't occur to me that I would be leaving at contract time during my third year of teaching.
     
  10. allyv

    allyv Rookie

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    May 19, 2015

    I tried to explain a bit to the principal why I was allowing the student to listen to music, but the principal immediately shook his head "no" and just felt like it wouldn't be right to argue it with him at the time. I have no problem keeping the kids off their devices, but I can't help but feel terrible about being spoken to about it! ):

    I actually can't shake the feeling of being spoken to at all about my mistakes. I guess, it's that I am being spoken to that really makes me feel the most ashamed. I enjoy being liked by my superiors, so to feel any tinge of dislike is like a thorn in my side :/ I just hope they are forgiving enough to see that I am new and I will make mistakes, because I know some principals are not as forgiving and will often let go on teachers they don't see fit, regardless of whether they're new or not :(
     
  11. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    May 19, 2015

    I've made plenty of mistakes along the way. I still make mistakes. I try not to make the same mistakes, and I try to always learn from my mistakes, but they still happen from time to time.

    I will say that whenever students ask to borrow my white-out (and I have a strict no-teacher-supplies-for-students-because-germs policy), I always tell them that I don't have any of that stuff because I never make mistakes. I say it with a deadpan expression and it freaks them out a bit. Heh. :)
     
  12. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    May 19, 2015

    I think most of us who become teachers are perfectionists and pleasers by nature. Try to remember that being spoken to about a mistake does not equal dislike. Making mistakes doesn't make you a less worthy teacher or human being -- it just makes you human! Plus, I would agree that letting kids listen to music at appropriate times isn't even a mistake.

    Did your principal really speak in a way as to make you feel bad? I know in my own case, I am often very sensitive to corrections and sometimes feel bad about things that were never meant to make me feel bad. If this is the case, try to shake it off! If your P really was harsh or demeaning, I would question why he/she was so harsh about something so minor, especially with a new teacher.
     
  13. allyv

    allyv Rookie

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    May 20, 2015

    Haha, I would love to try that, except the students are super nosy and every time I open my desk drawer, they peek inside, so they already know I have whiteout! That's funny though :lol:

    Yes so true! I guess you can say I am also sensitive to corrections. Not a perfectionist, but I do have certain expectations of myself that I must meet! He wasn't very harsh about the phone thing, but it's just sooooo embaressing! :eek: I have some high expectations of myself, and lately I've been analyzing myself and I noticed I am falling short of them as each week passes. I'm just gonna blame the fact that schools almost over!!! :lol:
     
  14. Geologygirl

    Geologygirl Comrade

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    Jun 3, 2015

    Yes I did make many mistakes, but over all I think I did ok.

    Most of my mistakes had to do with not being more assertive when dealing with parents over their kids behavior issues. I was to nice so they thought they could walk all over me and make me do whatever they wanted.

    I also did not walk around enough towards the end of the year due to being pregnant so kids behavior got a little worse towards the end of the year. I am hoping not being preggo next year will help me be a better teacher, and I will get better at behavior management.
     
  15. bartleby

    bartleby Rookie

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    Jun 4, 2015

    Considering my mental image of you is Severus Snape, I would find that downright terrifying. :)
     
  16. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Jun 4, 2015

    :lol:
     
  17. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    Jun 4, 2015

    Daily---hourly, but the idea is to keep trying to improve. Good luck and do not be so hard on yourself.
     
  18. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    I could (should?) write a novel about my first year(s) teaching and all the mistakes I made and near-disasters I managed to survive. If you can live to laugh about it and still want to show up to school for next year, then you're doing it right!
     
  19. GPC0321

    GPC0321 Companion

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    Jun 4, 2015

    First year, fifth year, tenth year, today...I make mistakes regularly. That's how we learn and grow and become better teachers!
     
  20. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Everyone makes mistakes. Work on your game plan for next year over the summer and fix some of the mistakes you made this year.

    It's a never ending process.
     
  21. HSEnglishteach

    HSEnglishteach Rookie

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    Jun 5, 2015

    First, I think the fact that you are embarrassed by this is a sign that you will be a great teacher! So if I were your principal I would take that as a positive. Here's my advice for you, in two parts:

    1. Real teaching bears no resemblance to movie teaching. You are not Erin Gruwell from "Freedom Writers," and even the real Erin Gruwell was not Erin Gruwell from "Freedom Writers." Even if you will one day soon become an amazing teacher, NO ONE is great his or her first year. And almost no one is even good. In fact, most people are bad. I was terrible my first year.

    2. If you want to grow as a teacher, you need to develop a tougher skin and depersonalize criticism. Teaching is incredibly complex. There is no way you can walk into the job your first year and be technically masterful at all elements. Your principal is giving you critical feedback, and you should be thankful for it! You are not a perfect teacher. I am not a perfect teacher, and I'm finishing my fifth year. And I will never BECOME a perfect teacher. The amazing beauty of this profession is that it is endlessly challenging, and without critical feedback from caring outside observers, it's difficult for us to better our craft.

    This principal, as I said, is doing you a favor. You know what would be truly disturbing? If he never came into your room or said anything at all to you. Take all the feedback you can get, and take it all seriously!
     
    SStudiesTeach likes this.
  22. shoebottom

    shoebottom Companion

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    Jun 14, 2015

    I was moved to high school 2 days before school started this past year. I had not worked with kids older than 10 before. It was a huge adjustment for me. There are many many things that I will be doing differently next year. Only certain calming music, no computer games that aren't truly educational, no going to the bathroom or to other teachers classrooms, giving every tardy that is not excused by another teacher, not allowing late work, and they will not pick their own seats.... these are the ones that I can think of now. One of the other sped teachers allows them to eat and drink, charge their phones, get on their phones.... and I allowed them to do the same out of pressure, but that will not happen next year.

    I am going to have to really work on not letting things they do get under my skin because they notice it and continue to do it. I am a sped teacher and the administration is changing the way we do a lot of things next year. We are also getting a new principal. He is a transfer from another school and I have been told that he does not have good behavior control and does not discipline students.

    I am not sure that I am cut out for high school. I am going to give myself another year or two to see for sure how I feel about. I also allowed the way that a retiring teacher and very unhappy teacher who did not want to be in sped influence my thoughts on high school and how it should be run, period. This is my year to be me, myself, and I.. I want to make my own judgement and will have block out what everyone else thinks.
     
  23. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Jun 14, 2015

    Being reflective is a great skill to have as a teacher! Funnily enough, I think my first year of teaching was the easiest, because I didn't know enough to really understand all of the mistakes I was making! I was happy to have a job, happy to be out from under the ridiculous extra work/responsibilities from student teaching, and I had a small caseload with really well behaved students. To be fair, feedback from others was positive, but looking back now I realize there is so much more that I could have/should have been doing! I'm going into my 6th year and I feel like I still learn a lot every year.
     

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