Teaching is an interactive process that includes real people with real feelings and real strengths and weaknesses. Since the teacher is the leader of the classroom, it is imperative that he or she know what to do and what not to do. The reason is simple; the teacher has to get through the school year just as the students do. With the right attitude and planning, more can be accomplished and enjoyed.

Mistake #1

The top mistake that teachers make is starting off the year imbalanced. The balance referred to is that of teacher student relationship. This is a fine line that the successful teacher will learn to walk. There are two typical scenarios: either a teacher is completely disengaged from students, or the teacher befriends their students. Either extreme is a mistake.

The teacher should be friendly without implying friendship. Friendship is not necessary for learning. Teaching is not about being liked or being popular with students. A teacher who is friendly but holds firm to specific and clear expectations will be respected and listened to, and that is what is most important.

Mistake #2

Losing control of the classroom is an awful situation for teachers to find themselves in; but it happens in schools all around the world. In order for students to get the most benefit from their school day, the learning environment must be sacred and guarded. This responsibility falls directly and solely onto the teacher. Students will have bouts of misbehavior; but control of the classroom can be maintained by a well-prepared teacher.

First and foremost, a teacher should never yell at students; even to get their attention. Teachers who routinely yell at their students are quickly written off as unreasonable. Instead of allowing frustration to boil over, a teacher will do well to remember that silence is sometimes a more powerful way of dealing with classroom chaos.

Frustrations should also never come out in the way of humiliation or sarcasm. The older students get, the more this behavior is seen in teachers. Teen students can be a challenge, this is certain; but a teacher should remain calm and have specific plans in place to handle discipline issues before the school year gets rolling.

Mistake #3

Every classroom needs rules; but some teachers have a tendency to create rules that are basically unworkable. When rules are seen as unfair, or create problems, they are unworkable. Creating policies for a positive learning environment take time but the payoff is huge. How often are classes disrupted unnecessarily, and how often can this be tracked back to poor planning?

Classroom rules should be clear and concise. Too many rules will overload students and create animosity. A teacher should set aside time before the beginning of the school year to determine the type of learning environment desired for their classroom and create rules based on those desires. For instance, students can be directed to bring required materials to class every day unless otherwise instructed. This rule clearly communicates what is expected. There should also be a consequence for not coming to class prepared.

When making classroom rules, it is important to know your reasons for creating rules. They will be tested, and you will have to state your reasons – sometimes many times.