First Year Teacher Advice

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Ms.Holyoke, May 6, 2018.

  1. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Habitué

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    May 6, 2018

    I will be teaching 6th grade math next year!! I am so excited but I have no idea where to start planning. I have started looking through the standards, but I don't want to start content planning until I talk to my principal about what levels I will be teaching.

    However, I am trying to figure out a few other things about next year.

    -How do I organize my desk, student papers, graded work, etc.? Should I buy trays to hold all of these things?
    -Which assignments should I grade? Right now, my mentor likes to collect every classwork assignment but it is a lot to grade each one. I'm also trying to figure out how my students can get immediate feedback on their work because we aren't passing it back in a timely manner.
    -What procedures are good to implement for 6th grade? My student teaching experience has been chaotic and my students' behavior has been horrible during transitions. They also don't raise hands at all, push their chairs in before leaving, etc. I definitely want procedures for entering the classroom and maybe even have kids get dismissed by table and line up at the door.
    -What rules/expectations should I have and how should I introduce these to my students? I know some people have students come up with classroom expectations as well.
    -I also want to have my students work collaboratively in my class. I learned about this in my education classes but I haven't been able to implement this very much in my student teaching. I know that I need to set up norms from the beginning, but I am not sure how to do it. Working collaboratively is also important for this school as well.
    -Do I need some sort of reward system in 6th grade? Right now, we have tickets for students who are behaving well but we don't use the system much and it seems way too babyish for 8th grade. Do I need something like this for 6th grade? I'm not a big fan of these types of systems except for individual students who need it. I'm still trying to figure out what my behavior management plan will be. I want to talk to my team teachers about this as well because hopefully there is something consistent for all of the 6th graders.
    -Classroom Decorations: I have no idea how to decorate a classroom, but I want it to be a welcoming environment for my students. I also don't want to spend a ton of money.
    -Should I start mapping out my units/curriculum when I figure out what levels I will be teaching?
     
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  3. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    As far as curriculum, I'm willing to bet there is already some sort of map or guide in place. I'd hold off on that until you meet with your team. Your team will also be able to provide suggestions on how to get them working collaboratively. I would suggest reading Harry Wong's book The First Days of School to get ideas for how to introduce procedures.

    On my desk, I have a tray for papers to be graded, as well as a tray for papers to be passed back. I also have a file sorter with a file folder for each day of the week. All of the papers I need for Monday are in the same folder, as are my papers for Tuesday, Wednesday, etc. I keep a bucket of pens, pencils, and scissors at my desk, my teaching station, and my small group table. I found I was always walking around with a pen and setting it down somewhere, then never had one when I needed one.

    I also student taught eighth-grade math. Homework always received a score of 100 for completion. We reviewed it after the bell-ringer, so students were able to see how they did and ask questions. For bell ringers, I had four checkers in a bag--3 black and 1 red. Every day, I drew a checker, and if it was red, the bell ringer was collected and graded. For other assignments, I would suggest trying to grade for accuracy only those that they complete in class. You never know how much assistance they have at home, and you want their grade to be a reflection of their knowledge.
     
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  4. Zelda~*

    Zelda~* Devotee

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    May 6, 2018

    I remember eons ago when I was in sixth grade we earned tickets all year and had an end-of-the-year auction where we got to bid and buy things. We loved it, but, it's been a looooong time.
     
  5. rpan

    rpan Cohort

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    You should read Dylan Williams research on feedback. I’ve used a few of his strategies and it has worked great.
     
  6. Hokiegrad1993

    Hokiegrad1993 Companion

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    May 7, 2018

    Use Google Classroom! you can have student submit google docs and you can grade right away as they turn it in. Also saves paper and desk space!
     
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  7. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Devotee

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    May 7, 2018

    You do this for math?
     
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  8. JimG

    JimG Companion

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    May 7, 2018

    For organization, I have posted previously my entire system that all fits in a single filing tote. It has been the single best thing I have done to keep everything in order and has worked for one and a half years now. Go to my profile and search my earliest postings for a title, “Need help organizing ALL THOSE PAPERS?”
     
  9. Hokiegrad1993

    Hokiegrad1993 Companion

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    Yes! we post an assignment with the math questions basically a worksheet online. We make sure the students have a scrap paper to do their work on and they submit the answers on a google doc.
     
  10. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Devotee

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    Ah, guess it doesn't really save paper then ;) I like the idea a lot for easy grading---just makes it hard to see the process, which is important.
     
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  11. Hokiegrad1993

    Hokiegrad1993 Companion

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    Understand maybe switching to whiteboards could work. I do elementary so we do all subjects. It works really well for other subjects but math your right does not save paper :p
     
  12. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    May 7, 2018

    Your angst reminds me of the poor job that teaching credential programs are doing to prepare college students for the profession. Doesn't appear that there has been much improvement since I paid my dues more than 35 years ago and yet graduates must now pass so many irrelevant examinations to earn their credentials. I find it to be so ironic and disconcerting that new hires must seek help from an online forum for fundamental questions that should have been addressed in their college programs. Organization of one's desk, handling paperwork and room decoration - I wonder if people entering other professions face such daunting challenges? Perhaps the gauntlet is in need of some restructuring - examinations alone are apparently not enough.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2018
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  13. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    May 7, 2018

    First Days of School and Tools For Teaching (Fred Jones) are good resources. Basically students will have your number in about ten seconds on the first day. After they "scope you out" your management plan will either have a chance (no matter its merits), or it will nose dive and take forever to retrieve. That is to say, management plans work because they are built on solid fundamentals.

    The rules in any classroom are dictated by reality - what the students can get away with. This is from Fred Jones' TFT so bear with me those who recognize it. It serves to make a point about introducing students to your classroom.

    It's the first day, first period, five minutes before the bell rings:

    Teacher A is sitting at her desk checking last minute plans. The first student enters. He strolls around checking the set-up. A minute passes when another student enters. He starts talking with first student. They stand and chat. Another minute passes and several other students are in the room standing around and talking. One minute before the bell rings everyone is standing around and talking. The bell rings. Everyone continues to stand and talk. Teacher A is standing at the front of the room. She demonstrates her first overt act of discipline, "Class, the bell has rung. We have a lot to cover. Let's all find a seat." Most of the class finds a seat, but several continue to chat and two decide this is good time to sharpen pencils. Teacher A, noting her first "technique" did not have desired effect, demonstrates her second overt act of discipline, "You two back there. This is not the time to sharpen pencils. Please find a seat." This is not looking good. The school year is barely three minutes old and the teacher is already begging students to sit down. Students have made note of A's valuable lessons: 1) You may enter the room any way you choose. 2) I have nothing for you to do. 3) You may sit wherever you want. 4) When I want your attention I nag. 5) If nagging doesn't work - I nag some more.

    Teacher B is standing at the door when first student enters. She shakes hands and introduces herself. Then hands him a sponge activity with seat # at the top. She tells him to find seat and follow directions on the board (written in advance). She watches him find seat. Next student enters and same introduction plays out. This continues until all students are seated. The bell rings. B moves among students as they are working, answering questions and making small talk. B has taught valuable lessons (her rules, actually): 1) This is a work class. If you want to socialize stay outside. 2) I have something for you to do. 3) I will assign you a seat. 4) I expect you to follow written directions. 5) I will be close to you when you are working.

    Many students, especially the goof-offs, pray to have Teacher A. They know by watching the first minutes of the year this is going to be a "Kick-back and do your thing class". A hasn't even gone over her rules and procedures yet, but students are already rubbing their hands together and plotting. Goof-offs hate B types. They know they are going to have to work.

    Sorry for long-winded reply. Point is you teach who you are and what is important by your actions not words. Students already know your rules and routines. They have known since kindergarten. So they watch. For them reality is what the teacher allows not what the teacher "goes over". Proactive is the operative idea. Anticipate and head off behavior before it starts. Alternative is to react in the moment: nag-nag-threaten-punish.
     
  14. Hokiegrad1993

    Hokiegrad1993 Companion

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    May 8, 2018

    While that could all be true. it sometimes is nice to get the perspective from teachers not professors. :)
     
  15. LouiseB

    LouiseB Cohort

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    May 8, 2018

    Love it Loomistrout! Spot on! Kids are scoping out the teacher immediately and even before entering the room. Great advice.
     
  16. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Habitué

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    May 12, 2018

    Another thing that I am worried about is that I have never had to do it on my own. My mentor and I have been co-teaching (switching off teaching days.) I took full responsibility for the last two weeks but t my mentor was still there to help out. In addition, whenever she is absent or has a class, she encourages me NOT to come. I think she is worried about misbehavior. Part of me feels like she is looking out for me but the other part of me feels like "why doesn't she trust me to manage the class on my own?" I was fine to keep the kids alone for an afternoon and they were just watching a movie. She asked a para to come and told me she was saying that he is in charge. I know I have had behavior problems this year but I also know that my management has improved a lot. My mentor has also had several management problems as well so it's not just me. If I can't do it this year, how am I supposed to do it -alone next year? The other student teacher has taught alone with the kids for 3 weeks since the English teacher went on vacation. My mentor constantly praises her. I know I shouldn't feel jealous but it makes me feel really incompetent and worried about teaching next year. Is there any way to convey to my mentor that the class will be fine with me? She is calling out for two more days soon.

    I honestly just feel unprepared from my student teaching. The way they I teach now is not how I want to teach next year.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2018
  17. CherryOak

    CherryOak Companion

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    May 12, 2018

    I don't know if you should read her choices as based on her impression of you or if the choices should simply tell you more about her. My gut is to just encourage you to try to not take any one person's actions to heart. It could have nothing to do with you. If it does, know that you will encounter many discouraging souls in life. Don't listen to them.
     
  18. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    May 12, 2018

    Wow.
     
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  19. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Habitué

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    At first I was thinking that it was her personality because she's a very hard worker and she's a bit controlling. But it honestly shocked me that she still has doubts about leaving me alone with the all the kids. My evaluations have been very good all year. She had an absence a while ago that I was going to cover for. She was so relieved when there was a snow day and she didn't have to be absent. At first, I thought that it was because she didn't want to stress me out but she is always praising the other student teacher and talking about how the kids love her. I honestly was feeling a little bit jealous yesterday and I know I shouldn't be. :(
     
  20. CherryOak

    CherryOak Companion

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    May 12, 2018

    Truth is, she could have doubts in you. That doesn't necessarily mean they're founded, does it? That feeling of hers doesn't doom your first year. She doesn't have that much power and do not try to give it to her.

    That little ting of jealousy hits me at times, too. I had a bit of it last week. Here's what I've learned to remind myself when it hits:

    - Once hired, we are not really in competition to the degree some think. I think we compete more because we're female (and we unfortunately do that a lot) than because we're colleagues. But, that's just my opinion.
    - In all my years, I have never met a professional without a weakness. That includes all the administrators I've known. Maybe the weaknesses are unknown to us, but I guarantee they exist. We are all a work in progress. Our weaknesses differ, but they do exist.
    - As a professional, I'm happier if I tell that jealous whisper to hush and celebrate the accomplishments of a colleague. It would be horrible to work with incompetent fools. Haha. :)

    You have a lot to learn. I know that because we all do. So does she. You just worry about identifying your weaknesses and developing a game plan to address them. I think that you seem rather reflective, creative, and devoted to addressing the needs of your students. That's just from forum postings. That's a wonderful sign in your ability to adapt during your first year. Your first year will be your first year. It's a starting point, not a final presentation.
     
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  21. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Habitué

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    May 12, 2018

    ^^^
    Thank you; that is helpful to read!

    I just felt like I have worked really hard this year. It's is really hard for me to hear my mentor not wanting me to take over when she isn't here. All of my friends have continued teaching when their mentors were absent. I know I shouldn't be thinking this, but I can't help but think about how little confidence I feel for next year at this rate. I know I am almost done and I need to get over it, and you're right that it might reflect more about her than me. I know that I posted about classroom management issues, but I have definitely improved in this area. I know that the other student teacher has had management issues as well and my mentor has had classroom management issues too, so I also feel like it's not just me and it's a part of working at this school. The first time I was left alone with some kids, I had a lot of management issues but I have never dealt with that level of misbehavior because I had learned from it. I feel like how I am supposed to improve if I am not given the chance? I also know that I have had to learn to develop my own strategies because her only management advice to me was to ignore the misbehavior whenever I asked so I am happy that I was able to improve. I was really shocked when she had to leave last period (a class I don't usually teach) and she felt like the aide needed to be there. (She does not like the aide and I have much better classroom management than he does.) The only lesson plan was to show a movie. I know I can handle that alone so I wasn't sure why she even wanted an aide to be pulled from the other class. I know she's calling out next week and she's going to tell me that I don't have to come to school, it's not my job, etc. Is it ok to have an honest conversation with her about why she feels this way?
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2018

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