How to Avoid the 5 Mistakes All New Teachers Make

2011 saw a mere 62% of recently qualified teachers continue to teach the following year, a retention rate that has plummeted by nearly 20% since 2005.

Statistically, 4 out of 10 teachers quit within a year of starting, with many claiming that the profession has left them exhausted, stressed and just genuinely burnt out.


We decided that enough was enough and looked into what mistakes new teachers commonly make in order to help the next generation prepare. Having heard stories ranging from the potential cliques that lurk in the staff room to knowing your limits on a school night, we’ve got the advice to ensure you don’t fall into any of these 5 easy to make mistakes.


Find the right balance between empathy and discipline

Students are always talking about how the best teachers make them laugh or listen to their problems with the intent to help. However, one thing any veteran teacher will tell you is that if you’re too nice, your students will walk all over you.


The best teachers aren’t just nice, they’re also strict. They’ll laugh with the class, but ensure detentions are handed out if things go too far. Your class will love you for being kind and hate you for being too strict, so the trick is to find the balance that will earn you their respect.


Kids can be cruel

Kids can say the meanest things.  Cruel nicknames are common throughout the playgrounds of the world and whether they think you’ve set just a little bit too much homework or not, this particular vein of creativity will inevitably be turned against you at some point.


On a good day you can just laugh it off, but on a bad day it can really get under your skin. The trick is to maintain consistency, so don’t let it slide one day only to make to dish out the detentions the next. Pupils will listen to teachers they respect and stopping any signs of bad behaviour before it can flourish will ensure that you still rule the classroom.


Leave your work at the door

Maintaining a healthy work life balance can be the difference between a successful career as a teacher or becoming one of the 40% who drop out of the career early. Simple rules such as never giving your phone number out to parents and avoiding social media at all costs when you want to rant about problems at the school can ensure you can maintain a healthy private life.


Alongside this, make sure you leave any bad experiences in the classroom. Things may become stressful, but you don’t want to be carrying it over the threshold into your private life. One of the most important things is to make sure you have time for yourself. After all, the work will still be there in the morning.


Lay down the ground rules early

With each new class that comes your way, establishing the ground rules is very important. Things as simple as having students raise their hands need to be drummed in at the start of the year as enforcing new behaviour at a later date will be a challenge.


This also applies to any lesson information. You can’t always ensure that your class will read a grading sheet, so taking the time to explain it will make sure they understand how their assignments will be marked.


Preparation is the key to success

If you fail to prepare, then prepare to fail. It’s a cliché, but it’s true. One of the worst mistakes a new teacher can make is to go into a lesson with the idea that it can simply be improvised.


It just can’t. Trying to make it up as you go along isn’t fair on the students wanting to pass their exams. Creating and learning lesson plans is part of the job and the sooner you establish some routines, the sooner you can start to fully enjoy your career.




Every line of work is prone to incidents, especially as you are just getting started. By keeping a level head and learning from any mistakes, you can ensure that you improve and develop.

Teaching is a marathon, not a sprint and while you’re on the job every day is a school day.

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