First Year Teacher Advice

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

  1. Indi

    Indi Rookie

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    May 18, 2018

    I just did an auction for my elementary ESL students! It was a blast! I only have up to 4th grade, but I remember being a 6th-grader and the other 6th grade class did an auction. I was jealous! I think 6th graders would love it. :)
     
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  2. JaneK

    JaneK Rookie

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    May 21, 2018

    I am finishing up my first year. I had a lot of the same questions that you did. As far as organization, I pulled ideas from other classrooms that I had seen, as well as from the Internet. I graded way too many papers in the beginning, until its all I did at night, every night. Your district will dictate to you how many grades you have to have per subject per week. I'm not saying to only do the minimum each week, but don't bury yourself. The first year is overwhelming as it is. The best advice I received was to not take on any extra projects and to just survive. Get your classroom management ideas lined out first. Your district may have a curriculum map which will help you plan your units. There are also lesson plans available online that you may be able to customize. Finding out what technology is available to you will help as well. I teach fifth grade and I use the occasional homework pass as my reward and I'm pretty stingy with those. Some teachers use Dojo points, but I knew that I wouldn't be able take that on during my first year. There is other paperwork like RTI, IEP modifications, etc. that you will be responsible for that won't even be brought up to you until you begin work, so be prepared. I track homework for completion by the day for one cumulative weekly grade. Completion, not accuracy. We go over it together after that. Your team teacher will be a huge help. My team teachers and I work together to discipline the same way. Decorations - I hung some Japanese lanterns, picked a border that I liked for the bulletin boards, threw down a rug and called it good, but then, I'm not a frilly kind of person. I set up my desks in a U-shape at the beginning of the year. As far as collaborative groups, check with the other teachers to see how they handle it. The fifth/sixth grade math teacher on my hallway, has noise levels posted and I stole the idea from her to keep the group noise from getting out of control. I only allow bathroom/water breaks at designated times to cut down on everyone needing to go all the time. Use the other teachers' experience; they will help you. Sorry for jumping around.
     
  3. anjela

    anjela New Member

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  4. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    May 30, 2018

     
  5. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    May 30, 2018

    It was the same way with temporary office work. You took the clerical tests and they briefed you about the job, but nobody told you about the shortcuts in software, or breakroom/sandbox/lunchroom rules, and office politics 101. You either sank or swam. For years I begged people to shoe me how to set up a grade book, attendance book and all the other questions you asked.

    It seems as if the university’s job was to prepare you for passing the exams and student teaching, period. No ‘soft skills’ were ever discussed.
     
  6. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    May 30, 2018

    In almost every job, you have a control freak. No other way to say it. When you reach your boiling point, get up, speak up, and state your case. Then turn around and get to work. Either she will challenge you even more (and that’s when you start documentation) or walk away and leave you alone. Think about Scrubs.
     
  7. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    May 30, 2018

    Before you spend a dime on supplies, ask about reimbursement, stipends and general rules for purchasing teacher supplies. The basic idea is: If you buy it, it’s yours and you take it home in the summer. If they reimburse you, it’s school property. Save all your receipts because teachers get a nice tax write off! Don’t forget there will be a huge storeroom for you to play in also. And each school and P has policies on how and what to use when decorating.

    You can take your offer letter and sign up for teacher rewards and discount cards with Office Max, Staples, Barnes & Noble and Micheals, just to name a few places. Also Lakeshore Learning materials is one of my best stores.

    Ask office staff for copy of schools tax exempt letter also.
     
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  8. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    May 30, 2018

    When is it appropriate to ask my principal about supplies, curriculum, and seeing my classroom?

    I am worried because they sent me a curriculum map but that is about it. This just tells me what topics I would need to teach. My principal told me that I would most likely be teaching three sections of the lowest level class. He said it is great that I will only have one class to plan as a first year teacher -- which I also love!! I recall that the school said that teachers have a lot of freedom in their district, but I still expected some sort of a curriculum or any curricular resources. I was thinking of asking more about this mid-June. When I asked about any other resources a few weeks ago, the principal just told me about the curriculum map.

    I know that my scholarship program provides us with about 200 dollars for our classroom. I want to buy something that will last me a long time and that I could use for various grades in middle school. I was thinking of some type of math manipulative. I know algebra tiles would be good for older grades but maybe not 6th grade. Before placing my order, I would really like to know what supplies my school already has.
     
  9. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    May 30, 2018

    I would say late July at the earliest. To be honest, there's only so much advanced planning you can do without knowing the students. Just enjoy the summer and relax so you are well energized for when school starts up.
     
  10. Curriculum Chef

    Curriculum Chef Rookie

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    May 30, 2018

    I agree.

    Do advancing planning is kind of contradictory if your goal is to shape lessons based on the students' needs.
     
  11. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    May 30, 2018

    Yes, relax. Summer really isn’t very long! :rolleyes:

    You should get a letter/phone call/email informing you about teacher inservice days. Usually, these are two or three days about a week before school starts. At that time, you will be in all day meetings, swamped with forms, packages and info and eventually keys to your room. That’s when you will learn about buying supplies, ordering equipment, and making copies. If you don’t hear anything by next to last day, bring it up. Best to save at least 5-10 questions on a list (IMO so you don’t end up running back and forth with more questions.)

    You may get an I.D. card to wear proudly and sign up for those teacher discount cards!!

    Don’t be surprised if you see rooms already set up. Some of the seasoned teachers may come in earlier in the week and work in their rooms. The P lets you know what their policy is as far as coming in during off hours. Generally, the custodial and maintenance staff are pushing chairs around and waxing floors. So you really can’t do much.

    Before school shooting were rampant, anyone could easily walk around the vacant building by entering open side doors during the summer. Now, office staff guard the buzzer doors. The main office staff has short hours in the summer, so make a call before heading out there. Without a personal approval from the P, they may not let you in your new room.
     
  12. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    May 30, 2018

    Usually freedom = no set curriculum. I’d study your standards and the standards a couple of years before your grade level. Make some notes and bookmark some sites to make yourself feel better.

    Then enjoy your summer.
     
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  13. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    Jul 16, 2018

    The math curriculum head sent me an Excel spreadsheet with the scope and sequence. He said they are revising it a little bit in late May. On the spreadsheet, there were a few resources listed for curriculum. One of them is Agile Minds and there were also a few unit names. I know it is the middle of the summer, but do you think it is ok to reach out to him and ask about the units listed and about the Agile Minds resource? One of my friends is teaching in a charter school and she already got her curriculum and everything, so I feel a little bit unprepared.
     
  14. mamaotter

    mamaotter Rookie

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    Jul 16, 2018

    My school starts August 9, and I don't even know what subject I'm teaching yet! It's a 9th grade only school, so I know it will be some combination of Algebra I and/or Geometry, but that's all I know yet.

    By the way, this thread has been helpful to me. I was debating posting something similar, and then I saw this one! :)
     
  15. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    My principal got back to me about my assignment and I am so excited about it! I will have 3 6th grade classes, all at the CP level. My school tracks students so we have Pre-AP, Honors, CP, and inclusion classes. I feel relieved because I am teaching three of the same classes and I will also not have any students with IEPs this year.

    He also said that he knows what room I am in and I might go start setting up before new teacher orientation. I am living at home for a few more weeks and the school is a bit of a drive from my house but I might make the trip once if I can.
     
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  16. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Jul 23, 2018

    Definitely schedule a four to five days to work in your new room before new teacher orientation. You may not need them all, but if you are as lucky as I’ve been, you’ll need the time to clean out the “treasures” left by previous teachers. I always seem to get the rooms where the retiring teacher took her purse and lunch box but left every thing she ever owned. In one room, a teacher actually left mugs and glasses with her name painted on them.

    Take trash bags and dusting supplies just in case.
     
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  17. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    Jul 27, 2018

    You are going to do fine. Your mentor is not perfect and to say an entire class does not like either of you is a stretch and if even half way true her fault.
    My first year was the lowest 6 grade math students. I also had the 7th and 8th low groups. Sixth was my hardest group but I spoke to my AP and others for help and it turned out positive for me. Be proactive with children and your management and not reactive. You are the boss and need them to believe that. The old saying was "dont smile till Christmas". You can always back off from strictness but never put that genie back in the bottle if you start out lax. Try to learn about some of your kids, especially the ones that seem withdrawn or sad or off the wall. They have a reason for it. When kids know you care they will do almost anything you ask. You will have some VERY hard cases but don't take their behavior personally. They probably have some demons and this is a way of coping or getting attention. This is the hardest and best job on earth if you bring passion and love to it. Some days will be the BEST ever and some will have you reaching for a glass of wine. I hope you continue to keep us up on your new beginning. You will be around teachers that are unhappy or see students as the enemy, Avoid them. Dont ever be afraid to ask for help or advice. The more you listen the more you will learn in school (and that even goes for listening to kids). Just when you think you have down pat and all figured out something new will take your breath away. Try to refrain from gushing about all your great ideas and success to the vet teachers. They have seen and heard lots of it. Tell us about it here. This is just a tiny % of how to attack this new career. We all have our styles and your's is what you will be best at. Good luck and believe in your self and your kids. They need somebody to push them and care about them, too.
     
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  18. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    Aug 6, 2018

    I emailed my principal and he said I can stop by anytime this week or next week since he is at school. My new teacher orientation is starting next Tuesday but then I have another week off afterwards. However, I am moving in to my new apartment during the week of my orientation so I'll be busy organizing my apartment and assembling furniture the week after orientation. Do you think it's ok to ask if I can go in this Friday? I don't want to seem too overeager!
     
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  19. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Aug 6, 2018

    I think you'd be fine to ask to go in y time this week.
     
  20. mathteachertobe

    mathteachertobe Cohort

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    Aug 6, 2018

    If he said anytime this week, go for it. He will probably appreciate your enthusiasm. If you find you have a lot of questions, try to save the less urgent ones until there are colleagues around to ask. Your principal is likely to be taking care of fairly urgent matters in the week or two before teachers report back. I know mine has some last minute hiring to deal with.
     
  21. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    Aug 9, 2018

    Sigh...I am panicking because I apparently don't have a teaching license! My state has us get both a license and an SEI endorsement and I completed all of the requirements. However, my program mistakenly said that I completed an 8-12 program instead of a 5-8 program so I received my SEI endorsement and not my middle school teaching license. I've been emailing and calling and I hope it will be resolved quickly. I think I sent about 6 emails!! This also happened to another teacher from my program.
     
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  22. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    Aug 9, 2018

    .
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2019
  23. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Aug 9, 2018

    Oh no! Good luck. I hope it all works out for you.
     
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  24. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    ^
    No, it stands for Sheltered English Immersion and Massachusetts requires all teachers to have this endorsement. I already have a teaching job but I was hoping to send them my license information! I had no idea this would happen! I spoke to someone else in my program who said it was resolved in 2 weeks for her. Frustrating that my program didn't check on everyone else's once one person had the issue. My program is hoping to send the correct information to the state today but who knows how long the state will take to fix the issue...
     
  25. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Fingers crossed that it all gets resolved quickly!
     
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  26. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    So I talked to the licensure contact person from my program and she was very rude. :( She basically said that she will send an email to correct the issue but she is not sure how long it will take. I asked her if she could let me know when got the email sent out and she seemed upset that I asked that. This was at 11am and I still haven't received any contact from her.

    Then, I called my state licensure office and they said that an email would not suffice! They said they needed her to do a correction request and send the correct license--which she said that she would not be able to do! I'm super confused and stressed. I called the licensure contact person from my program and told her this, but she just said I needed to give her time. I'm wondering if I should talk to my principal about this tomorrow.
     
  27. svassillion

    svassillion Companion

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    Aug 9, 2018

    Get HR in your hiring district to call as well. DESE can move slow but any time I've had my district get involved it gets solved immediately. But I wouldn't worry about the timing. Even if it's not resolved by the first day of school it shouldn't effect your start.
     
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  28. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    Thanks for this advice! I just called and the lady is not there today but she is there at 7:30 tomorrow. I am also meeting my principal tomorrow and I'm wondering if I should let him know as well. My college licensure contact person told me that she sent in the request that the 8-12 license be removed, but I'm not sure how long that will take!
     
  29. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    Wow...I am so relieved! The request to remove the 8-12 endorsement and the request to add the 5-8 endorsement was processed in only 3 hours! Now I just have to wait for my official license but I do have all the requirements met. I think it should only take a few days but I will let my school's HR know tomorrow to see if they can help the process move more quickly!

    My other option was to pay $25 for a high school license but I really did not want to pay more $$ and I do not want a high school license.
     
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  30. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    What do people usually wear to new teacher orientation? I got the flier in the mail and it says casual dress so I am not sure what to wear! I don't want to wear jeans but I also don't want to wear dress pants. I was thinking khakis would be perfect but I don't have any.
     
  31. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    I will probably wear my usual “teacher clothes” to mine - dress pants & a blouse. My orientation is at our board office and I always dress up to go there. Never know when I’ll run into a superintendent. Do you have a casual skirt or dress?
     
  32. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    You were all totally right about going in early! I saw my classroom today and there are so many materials I have to go through! I'm glad because I actually have a lot of manipulatives, etc. that I'll use. The custodian is so sweet! She is helping me clean out the room and finding me bulletin board borders and paper. It's strange that my school doesn't provide laptops for teachers -- just a desktop. I will probably bring my own personal laptop or work from it at home.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2018
  33. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    I think you should have a AtoZ journal of your first year teaching in here. Custodians are VERY important people in a school much like the office staff and lunchroom people. For her to help you out from the get go is a great sign. Is Monday the first day? Most of our local schools go back the 13th.
     
  34. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    In a situation like this, I opt for colored skinny jeans or other pants that are casual but not blue jeans.
     
  35. ssgirl11

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    You can't go wrong with a nice sundress. Casual, but dressy at the same time.
     
  36. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    This is what I did today and I fit right in. Most people were very casual.
     
  37. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    Does anyone have tips for dealing with very large class sizes? I have 3 classes with 33, 32, and 30 kids and I'm freaking out a bit. This is way more than I thought I would have. My student teaching classes had 17 kids and 22 kids because so many of the middle school kids went to charter schools. I have no idea how to even manage behavior with classes so large. I don't even know how I should group kids! Should I do 8 tables with groups of 4 and one group of 5 OR 6-7 groups of 5? Ahhhh...

    My other question is, what do you usually do during homeroom? Apparently the kids have homeroom from 7:30 - 8 everyday and the kids get breakfast in homeroom. Do teachers usually organize community building activities during this time or it is just for breakfast/regular announcements?
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2018
  38. Janlee70

    Janlee70 Rookie

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    Aug 14, 2018

    I would reach out to the other teachers in your school and ask what they do. Once you know, you could follow their lead or alter their routine to fit what you would like to do.
     
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  39. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    I talked to a teacher and she said homeroom is just a time for them to have breakfast and hang out-- no activities necessary thankfully!
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2018
  40. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    How much decorating is usually expected in a middle school classroom? The previous teacher left a ton of posters and I put a few up in my room, including a poster I had. I also bought a colored bins/paper trays for the room. I was also going to print a few other content related things on cardstock. I covered the bulletin boards and have border but I don't know what to put on them. I am hoping to wait for student work and put it up but I'm not sure if I need titles for my boards! My room just looks so dull right now and I'm not sure what to do.

    I'm also going to make a poster with our classroom rules and also a poster that details the schedule for the day. Eventually I'm going to add anchor charts for things like turn and talks, group norms, etc. but I figure I'll put them up when we get to them.
     

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