Teaching Mistakes from the College Classroom

By: Mary Bart

Think back to your first few years of teaching. If you’re like most educators, you probably made your share of mistakes. Maybe you were too strict … or not strict enough. Perhaps you were so absorbed delivering your course content that you didn’t realize half the class was completely lost. Or maybe you made assumptions about your students that later proved to be false. You’re not alone.

Teaching Mistakes from the College Classroom features 15 reflective essays from instructors who were generous enough to share their early-career missteps in hopes that others can learn from their mistakes.


Faculty Share the Mistakes they Made as Beginning Teachers

When Faculty Focus put out a call for articles for this special report on teaching mistakes, we really didn’t know what to expect. Would faculty be willing to share their mistakes for all to see? Would the articles all talk about the same common mistakes, or would the range of mistakes discussed truly reflect the complexities of teaching today?

We were delighted at the response, not only in terms of the number of instructors willing to share their stories with our readers, but by the variety of mistakes and lessons learned. For example, in “You Like Me, You Really Like Me. When Kindness Becomes a Weakness,” Jolene Cunningham writes of her discovery that doing everything you can for your students is not always the best policy.

In “If I Tell Them, They Will Learn,” Nancy Doiron-Maillet writes about her realization that it’s not enough to provide information to students if they don’t have opportunities to then apply what you are trying to teach them.

Other articles in Teaching Mistakes from the College Classroom include:

  • When Expectations Collide
  • Things My First Unhappy Student Taught Me
  • Understanding My Role as Facilitator
  • Don’t Assume a Student’s Previous Knowledge
  • Establishing Credibility with Students: It Doesn’t Happen Automatically
  • Teaching Mistakes: Four Lessons for Beginning Instructors
  • What Works in One Culture May Not Work in Another
  • Disaster at the Casino: Betting on Subject Matter Expertise to Win Over Adult Students
  • On a Frustrating Day or in a Troubled Class, Remember We All Make a Difference
  • Neglecting to Cultivate a Research-Based Teaching Practice
  • Becoming Aware of the Instructional Value of Student Writing Samples
  • Assumptions I Made in the Past and How I Come to Know My Students Now

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