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Saturday, August 1, 2020

5 Mistakes I've Made as a Teacher

Have you made some mistakes in teaching? 

I'm sure you've heard the saying "Teachers don't make mistakes".

I've made more mistakes being a Teacher than I can count, but the failures have made the successes that much sweeter. 

I want to share 5 mistakes I've made teaching over the years (trust me, there are plenty more).

5 Mistakes I've Made as a Teacher

Mistake #1 Make Every Lesson Epic

I think for a lot of us we were told in teacher college that we had to have an epic hook for every lesson in our classroom. Make every opening as engaging as possible for students wanting to learn more.

Mistake number one for me was trying to out do the previous lesson. I was overwhelmed from the pressure I created to make it epic. Every. Time.

Here's what I learned for sure: your classroom does not have to be perfect for learning to occur. You can be amazing just the way you are.

I created some resources that would make students have fun in math (without knowing it). These printables helped students work on key skills in a different way. 

Practicing key skills daily or weekly should be fun.

Mistake #2 Teacher Created Rooms are the Better

I thought that I should have everything created and made beautifully. My room would look amazing. What I soon found out was the opposite. My students didn't connect as well with the room. It wasn't theirs it was mine. They wanted to to be included in the room design too. 

How I fixed it: I changed my mindset. The classroom became a student centered classroom. The visuals on the walls were student created. The word wall was student created. The displays were made by students. Was it still beautiful? Yes. Did the students take ownership and behaviors towards math improve? Yes. 

Students write on sticky printed notes about each grade level term.

Mistake #3 Forgetting to Communicate

This is one that I cannot take back. I learned the hard way. Communicate, communicate, and communicate. Don't assume, just call, email or send home a million notes (okay maybe not a million). 

The single best thing I ever created for my classroom and I share it for here, was a parent homework assignment. Kids LOVE this! They giggle when you say, "Here's your first homework assignment and your parent is going to do it for you!" Say what? 

Go get the assignment and your students will enjoy giving their parents homework too. The best part is you will have a working email and phone number for EVERY PARENT and GUARDIAN. Yes. Best first homework assignment. 

The first homework assignment is a quick win for communication with parents and guardians.

Mistake #4 Teaching Focused Classroom 

A common mistake is forgetting the why or who you're doing something for. I was getting caught up in teaching all the time. EVERY. MINUTE. EVERY. DAY.  I was exhausted and spent many hours focused on teaching activities and not independent student activities. 

Once the shift was made from teacher focused to student focused, I was no longer exhausted, fatigued, or tired. Students enjoyed the independent activities. Students loved to be doing something on "their terms" and not being micro-managed. 

Students gained independence and worked cooperatively with partners.

They were proud of their notebooks and the learning they created inside of them. 

Mistake #5 Not Focusing on Vocabulary

I thought the focus of math was answering the problems correctly. Practicing fluency skills and doing textbook activities all the time. It wasn't until word problems became an issue that I realized what was missing. 

How I fixed it: Implementing weekly vocabulary notebooks. Students had to write out 4-6 vocabulary terms every week in their notebooks. Their confidence went through the roof! Practicing vocabulary transcended into students being able to read, write, and speak math better. It is the secret sauce my students were missing. 

Students would increase their knowledge of math terms. 
By the end of the year they knew all grade level vocabulary words.

I hope my mistakes become your successes. It's okay to make mistakes. We do the most learning from them. 

Happy Teaching!