I have recently been doing a series about stupid school mistakes that others have made, so I think it is only fair that I admit some stupid mistakes that I have made myself. This is part two of the series. Here are a few more things I have done that were not a good idea:
*Trying to over-punish. Thinking that over-punishing intimidates students into behaving seems to be a common misconception among teachers. The opposite of this is actually true--when I tried this approach the students disliked me as a result and wanted to misbehave to get back at me. Stupid.
*Leaving a job without having another one lined up. This one seems like common sense, especially in the current state of the economy. Ten years ago, though, I thought it would be daring. I nearly wound up taking a job that would have been terrible and luckily wound up getting a decent one at the last minute. Stupid.
*Asking administration for help with a small discipline problem. Administrators are too busy to worry about small discipline issues, especially in a large school. Too much talking in my history class of 40 students was not enough reason for me to go to the principal for help. This was the only time in two years that I did this and a reputation for not being good with discipline stuck. Stupid.
*Teaching a subject that I wasn't great at. You should be an expert of anything you teach. I taught U.S. History for my first year before switching over to math. I like History, but I am no master of it. This is a great way to bring major stress and difficulty to your life. I also don't coach anything I didn't play. Stupid.
*Telling students to try to misbehave during an observation so that I could show how I deal with them. What was I thinking on this one? During my early years I actually told a talkative class to do this. And this was before I had any organized discipline structure. One of the benefits of being liked/loved by your students is that they will behave well for you when you are observed. Take advantage of this. Stupid.
Throwing a trash can for dramatic effect. This is great drama until you accidentally hit a student with it. Oops. No need to try to get a reputation for being mean/crazy if you have a great discipline plan. Stupid.
Everyone makes mistakes. Learn from them. Or even better--learn from me.
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