5 Rookie Mistakes You Shouldn’t Make

Being a brand new teacher comes with a plethora of challenges. Make sure one of these 5 rookie mistakes doesn’t cause you undo stress.

Rookie mistakes

1. Wearing uncomfortable shoes.

Not wearing the right shoes is one of the biggest rookie mistakes I see on the first day of school.

Check out this post on 7 Morning routine MUSTS for new teachers. Choosing comfortable shoes is #5. As I mention in that post, I recommend new teachers invest in some comfortable shoes before the school year beginsFlats with good arch support and clogs are the way to go as far as I’m concerned. I also wear ballet flats, but I put insoles in them to make them more comfortable for all day wear. I like these insoles.

You are going to be on your feet for the majority of an eight hour day and the hard, sometimes slippery floors, of most schools are not forgiving.

2. Skipping lunch! (or snack)

Teaching take a ton of energy, both mentally and physically. Skipping on food is a big rookie mistake. You’ll be so busy you might even forget to eat. Don’t do that!

You must nourish your body with quality food in order to maintain your stamina throughout the day. I know many teachers who meal plan on Sunday so they have healthy meals all week. I have two small children at home so I prep more on the fly, but I always bring something nutritious and substantial enough to get me through the afternoon. Usually I make more than needed at dinner each night and bring the leftovers for lunch the next day.

Also, don’t neglect to remember the importance of snacking. Before I started teaching I wasn’t much of a snacker, but you may teach for up to five hours straight before getting a break or lunch. Don’t let your blood sugar drop too low. I know teachers who have passed out in their classrooms. Luckily that hasn’t happened to me, but I’ve come close. That’s why I always keep healthy snacks in my drawer at school.

I’m a big fan of Nature Valley Oats ‘n Honey Granola Bars and I’m currently on a kick of eating their Sweet and Salty Nut, Almond Granola Bars. For more teacher friendly (i.e. quick, not messy, no utensils required) snacks check out this post.

3. Failing to make parent contact early

Another common rookie mistake is not making parent contact at the very beginning of the school year! Preferably before the first day of class has even occurred. Doing this will give parents a sense of who you are and that you are in their child’s corner. You will be in a much better place later in the year if you need to call about a problem if you’ve made this initial contact first.

You can do this simply by sending out a group email to all parents before the first day of school to let them know a little about who you are and what their child will be doing in your class.

For a sample email check out my post on how to contact parents.

4. Being too firm

Please do smile before Christmas. In fact, smile at the door as students are walking in on the first day. Teaching is as much about relationships as it is about content. If you fail to form meaningful relationships with your students (meaning they know that you care about who they are as human beings) they you will likely get nowhere with your content.

Rookie teachers are often too firm or strict in their classrooms because they are worried about the classroom management part of teaching, but being overly worried about the rules and the content–especially during the first week–often backfires and students begin to rebel against this teacher they don’t like (because they feel like that teacher doesn’t like them).

I am certainly not saying you should let your classroom fall into chaos. There must be rules and procedures in place, but these rules and procedures can be introduced in a way that shows students they are in place for students’ own benefit because the teacher cares about them. This will make all the difference!

5. Failing to ask for help

Many rookie teachers feel like they shouldn’t reach out for help from fellow teachers or administrators. They fear that if they ask too many questions it will look like they don’t know anything or they aren’t prepared for their job.

Not at all. In fact, most teachers respect a new teacher who understands that they probably don’t even know what they don’t know yet, and that they reach out for support with the content, school procedures, etc.

You don’t want to constantly barrage your colleagues with questions, but reach out to the experts in the building to collaborate on things that you don’t feel as strong on yet. If you’re in a good working environment (which I hope you are) they will be happy to help you and they’ll respect you for knowing that you could be stronger through their collaboration.

Here are some more posts that you might find helpful if you are concerned about starting your rookie year teaching:

A script for how to call a parent

Handling “helicopter” and “snowplow” parents

Keeping track of parent contact

To do list for the summer before your first year teaching

Last minute activities to fill those awkward moments

Snacking like a teacher

7 Morning routine MUSTS for new teachers

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A Teacher's Guide

I am a National Board Certified educator currently teaching in Virginia. I have taught the following: English 9, 10, 11, and 12 (on academic, collaborative, and honors levels); Dual Enrollment English; Mass Communications, Yearbook, Newspaper, and Communications Technology. I have experience in five different school systems, four in Virginia and one in Maryland. I served as my school’s 2019 Teacher of the Year and was a top five finalist for the Teacher of the Year for Virginia Beach City Public Schools. I am passionate about recruiting and retaining quality educators in our public schools. Let me help you find your path to changing lives through teaching!

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  1. September 8, 2019

    […] 5 Rookie Mistakes You Shouldn’t Make […]

  2. October 6, 2020

    […] 5 Rookie Mistakes You Shouldn’t Make […]

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