When to ask

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by gumbita, Jun 12, 2007.

  1. gumbita

    gumbita Rookie

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    Jun 12, 2007

    I will be a new teacher this coming fall and about a month ago I was hired at a brand new high school (it's still being built and not everyone has been hired yet). Virtually all the other teachers and administrators have come from elsewhere in the district, so I know they have district emails, but since I'm new, I don't yet so I have no idea if they are getting emails I am not. I feel very lost because the only thing I know is that I have a job but I don't know anything else: what I am teaching, what time school even starts, what topics I need to cover, what supplies are available to me, is there a school discipline plan, do teachers have a budget, etc. I don't know who my department head is or how to contact him/her (the website is blank, new school and all). But there is an inservice coming up later this month where I will potentially see him or her (even though the inservice will discuss none of the topics I have questions about). My questions are:

    -How long does it generally take to find out this information? Do dept. heads even know the schedule this early in the summer, or are we given all this information in the inservice the week before school starts? I would really love to get working on at least rough outlines of lesson plans this summer while I have lots of time!

    -Should I ask all this to the dept. head (or someone else??) during the inservice or at least tell them I have a lot of questions and ask to set up a time where I could talk to them about it, or is it not really the place?

    -Lastly, what other questions would you ask coming into a new school? Like I said, I know absolutely NOTHING about my position- no exaggeration - and really do worry I'm being kept out of an email loop or something.
     
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  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jun 12, 2007

    Here's my response, based on the years I spent as a dept chair (before my kids came along :) )

    Because the school is new, the chairmen are as well. The odds are good that they may not know all the answers either. BUT-- the odds are also good that they're veteran teachers and can help you out with the most important stuff: how to teach the material. ALL the other stuff, in spite of what they might have told you in college, is secondary. A teacher who can get the kids interested and knowledgeable about the material will be a successful teacher. So make those questions your primary focus.

    I would imagine that your inservice will include a rough idea of the marking periods. If not, other schools in your district will probably have them posted on THEIR websites. (Even if all you can find is this year's calendar.) So, while you may not yet know the exact date when progress reports are due, you'll have an idea of when they're mailed-- that will be enough to get you started.

    You will probably also get a list of the courses you're teaching and a copy of the syllabus-- that should cover your most basic concerns. (For what it's worth, we still haven't gotten that info. We have 5 days of exams left but our AP is in the hospital, seriously ill if the rumors are to be believed. So we may start the summer without them.) Once you have your syllabus and a textbook, you can start some serious planning.

    If you need some direction, here's what I do: I go to Staples and buy a 2or 2.5 inch binder for each prep. (Different color for each different course.) I put all my notes in them, in plastic sheet protectors. I also set up a tentative chart: lesson #, topic, homework and any notes on the topic. I use it to help me with long range planning. That will be the first thing I do once I'm officially notified of my preps for next year. (I returned to teaching last fall after 6 years home with my kids. So the Algebra course I think I'm teaching was last mine in 1988. It's not a new prep, but I'm still starting from scratch.) I also plan out test dates (I like one every 2 weeks) and so on.

    Come in with a list of questions, but don't be surprised if they don't have all the answers yet. As long as you know the courses you're teaching, you can worry about all the other stuff just before school starts.

    What else can I do to help you feel more grounded?
     
  4. Lyquidphyre

    Lyquidphyre Comrade

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    Jun 12, 2007

    I sent you a private message because, if you are in my area of Texas, I am curious if it is the school I am thinking of. I wanted to ask you a few questions, if you don't mind.
     
  5. gumbita

    gumbita Rookie

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    Jun 12, 2007

    You can tell me what classes I'll be teaching :) Thankyou so much for you help - I do appreciate it!!! (I am definitely going to do the binder thing) The bad thing about the upcoming inservice is it is not a real "inservice" - we are having a speaker come to talk to us the whole day about working with learning communities, so it won't be stuff specific to the school. SO I guess then I need to find out who the dept. head is at the "inservice" and at least ask for a text and the syllabus for the class(es) I'm teaching. DO you think I can call up the principal's secretary (that's the only contact I have!) and get that information sooner? Or is there someone else it would be better to contact? Again thanks so much!!!
     
  6. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jun 12, 2007

    Try her. If you can find out the course you can probably hit the other schools in the district to get an idea of the rest.

    It's infuriating, isn't it??? You're all set to go, and they're just not ready yet!
     
  7. gumbita

    gumbita Rookie

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    Jun 12, 2007

    Ah soo true!!! :)

    I'll try calling and see if I can get a bit more information. Thanks!
     
  8. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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  9. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Jun 12, 2007

    I was in this situation last year. Our school was brand new, half of the staff was from out of district, and our building wasn't complete until about 2 weeks before school started.

    If you live close by, I would go up to the school often--once a week or so. Take pictures of the school's progress. Volunteer to help the secretary unload the millions of new materials and supplies that the school is getting. All of these people will be able to help you more easily get in contact with your dept. chair and will keep you in the loop when new things pop up.

    During the next month and a half, you can bet that someone will be there pretty much every day! Where is your principal housed right now? Is he/she temporarily located at the central office?

    I would not hesitate to email him and ask him some of your more pressing questions. He is probably COMPLETELY overwhelmed right now, but he'll also be on a bit of an adrenaline rush.

    There is a very good chance that schedules are not set yet. Especially in science. A lot will depend on if the laboratories are up and functioning when school starts and if all of your lab materials come in on time. Schools are at the mercy of slow vendors.

    Be patient, visit frequently and realize that *everyone* will be starting over. You wont have to do anything alone.
     
  10. gumbita

    gumbita Rookie

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    Jun 12, 2007

    Alice, I took your lead and I also looked on the websites for the other high schools in the district and they had syllabi and class notes, so if nothing else that should give me a basic idea, right? Thanks so much for the links - they are very helpful...I may borrow some ideas :)
     
  11. gumbita

    gumbita Rookie

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    Jun 12, 2007

    Thanks, Band!
     
  12. Lyquidphyre

    Lyquidphyre Comrade

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    Jun 12, 2007

    Yay, denton isd! That is where I sub! I bookmarked some of those pages because Im in the same boat as gumbita (but she has a job, where as I don't)

    Also, most districts I have looked at have their teachers code of conduct book manual thing online and their grading and policies should hold true in your school as well.
     
  13. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I really feel for you. You're all ready to get started, you actually have some time, and they're not ready for you yet!!!

    I'm guessing that the stuff from the other schools in the district should pretty much match yours. At least it will give you some sort of an idea.

    That "UK" link I gave you-- the last one-- looks like a collection of assorted bio links. It looks like you mind find some cool stuff there.

    Good luck!
     
  14. gumbita

    gumbita Rookie

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    Jun 12, 2007

    Thanks so much! I was just looking at the UK one and did find some good stuff :)
     
  15. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Jun 12, 2007

    Be careful though googling high school biology sylabbus, beucase what Alice is referring to contains a list of what needs to be covered in depth, but most likely the ones you will find on teachers websites will be more geared to policies and expecations as well as the curriculm.
     
  16. kdw1913

    kdw1913 Companion

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    Jun 12, 2007

    gumbita,

    Have you signed your contract with the district yet? During that meeting is probably wihen you will get your school/district email and more info. I'm sure someone at the district office can provide you with some info if there is any to be shared yet.

    Good luck!
     
  17. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    Jun 12, 2007

    I didn't get my school e-mail until the first week of school.
     
  18. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Jun 12, 2007

    I really think that you'll have enough time in your inservice week to get the first couple of weeks of school mapped out. I know at my school we are advised to not do anything 'real' during the first two weeks of school because there is a lot of leveling of classes (making sure that you don't have one class with 50 kids in it and another class with 23), not to mention the fact that a bunch of kids don't seem to realize that school starts BEFORE Labor Day. Your school might want you to hit the ground running, I guess, but you'll know that at your inservice.

    Will there be other biology teachers at the school? If so, you can copy their worksheets, early plans, syllabi, etc. until you have time to make your own.

    Don't stress too much. Enjoy your summer!
     

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