The Worst Mistake A Teacher Can Make

The Worst Mistake A Teacher Can MakeThe parents don’t care.

You work in a tough neighborhood. You get no support from administration.

Your students have no accountability at home.

You have Chase or Karla or Anthony in your class this year.

You had a sub yesterday. Your class size is too big. Your room is too small.

You have too many talkers, too many challenging students, too many who struggle to pay attention. You have two students you’re convinced no teacher in the world could corral, much less turn around.

The obstacles you view as interfering with your classroom management success may seem very real. They may seem daunting. They may seem insurmountable.

They may seem like perfectly valid reasons for not attaining the teaching experience you really want.

But it isn’t true.

Oh, they may exist. But they’re in no way roadblocks to exceptional teaching. They’re not barriers to impeccable behavior. They can’t stop you from transforming your students into your dream class.

That is, unless you believe they can. Unless you give in to the temptation to blame outside circumstances, to point the finger elsewhere, to throw up your hands and conclude there is nothing you can do to overcome them.

You see, the worst mistake you can make as a (caring) teacher is to make excuses for poor behavior.

Because as soon as you do, as soon as you start looking outside yourself for why your students are the way they are, you undermine your ability to do anything about it.

You declare in your subconscious mind that it is done, kaput, finito. You inevitably communicate to your students through your behavior and attitude that you’ve given up on them.

And they’ll know it. Every last one of them. No matter how hard you try, it’s something you can’t hide.

Taking responsibility for everything that happens in your classroom, on the other hand, is deeply empowering.

Like a tidal wave, it will flood you with a never-ending reservoir of confidence, leadership, and ability to manage your classroom. You’ll feel different. You’ll act different. You’ll even look different.

It, too, is something you can’t hide.

Sadly, citing excuse after excuse why they can’t effectively manage their classroom, or why this student is badly behaved or that one can’t learn, is epidemic among teachers.

Here at SCM we often hear from teachers looking to us to confirm their justifications, to agree with their bleak conclusions, to let them off the hook. We hear of crowded classrooms, brazen disrespect, and zero support from administration.

No doubt these factors exist, but they’re not insurmountable—not even close. In fact, we have yet to see or hear of a teaching situation we don’t firmly believe can be dramatically improved.

The truth is, you really can have the teaching experience you desire. You really can feel energized instead of demoralized at the end of the day.

You really can be the one teacher your students will always remember, the one who believed they were more than the opinion of others, more than their past, more than their surroundings, more than mere excuses.

We receive dozens of emails from teachers every week who have put our simple strategies into practice and transformed their class.

It doesn’t matter where you work, who is on your roster, or whether or not your administrator takes one step inside your classroom.

You really can do it. You really can have the class you’ve always wanted. You really can love your career.

But you must never give in. You must never back down. You must never decide a student’s fate because of where they grow up, who their parents are, or how poorly they’re behaving in the moment.

Never. Never. Never.

Instead, you must decide that every student you come in contact with can learn. Every student can behave. Every student can love school.

And you’re the right person, at the right time, and in the right place . . .

To show them how.

PS – If you’re a principal and would like to improve recess behavior, click here.

Also, if you haven’t done so already, please join us. It’s free! Click here and begin receiving classroom management articles like this one in your email box every week.


8 Responses to The Worst Mistake A Teacher Can Make

  1. Dillon June 28, 2015 at 5:35 am #

    Hi Michael,
    Last summer I came across your website and decided to implement many of your suggestions for the start of the year. I had a great year…and I know my students did too! I came back to your website throughout the year to keep motivated, inspired, and at times to regain focus. It has been a wonderful support. I ordered Dream Class just this month (June) and am thoroughly enjoying it. It will be summer reading before every school year from now on. This has been the first time in my career that I have felt clear and confident about my approach to education. Thanks for the clarity! Please keep up the great work!

    • Michael Linsin June 28, 2015 at 6:46 am #

      That’s great to hear, Dillon! Way to go. 🙂


  2. Lanisa June 28, 2015 at 5:13 pm #

    Hi Michael,
    I love your work. “Dream Class” has been an inspirational book to me. Every summer I like to find something that you’ve written. Thank you!

    • Michael Linsin June 28, 2015 at 6:39 pm #

      It’s my pleasure, Lanisa. Thanks for your kind words.


  3. Allison Rapp July 2, 2015 at 6:02 pm #


    I’ve written to you in the past and absolutely love your website! I also have your book Dream Class. I just got hired to teach an inner city 3rd grade class and have had some negative feedback from family. This article is so inspiring, I’m going to print it off and put it on my desk. Your positive attitude and high standards are such a breath of fresh air!

    • Michael Linsin July 3, 2015 at 7:32 am #

      It’s my pleasure, Allison! You’ll do great.


  4. Rosi July 14, 2015 at 10:26 pm #

    This is just what I needed to hear! I have found myself making these excuses because of course, it couldn’t be my teaching that is making the child act out. I am excited to read your book, as my goal for this year is classroom management.

    I will be teaching reading interventions to struggling readers for 30 minutes a day. Would you change anything because of this?

    Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Michael Linsin July 15, 2015 at 6:49 am #

      Hi Rosi,

      No, the Smart Classroom Management approach works just the same. 🙂


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