First Year Teacher PANIC

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by MissAlys, Jul 30, 2014.

  1. MissAlys

    MissAlys Rookie

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    Jul 30, 2014

    Hey Everyone,

    I'm more than thankful. I've finally made it to what I thought was my dream job, a high school English teacher. I love literature and I can't wait to do my best to teach this passion to the best of my ability...But I'm worried. It's literally three weeks till school starts and while I have tons (I mean tons!) of meetings coming up, I haven't prepared at all and I honestly don't know where to start. What should I be doing to get ready for this upcoming school year?

    A few weeks ago I picked up my textbooks and I've been looking through them, and I have been able to log onto my district's curriculum website and standards, but what do I do with it? I have also had the chance to get in on some online instruction provided by my district, which has taught me about Marzano (if anyone knows what that is) and ways to create lesson plans and teach the standards. What will be discussed during preplanning? Should I be developing a syllabus right now? Deciding what should be read in class, making classroom procedures? I feel like I'm in the dark right now. Should I be making lesson plans? MTPs are already available so should I be just basing my lessons off of this right now?

    Also, what are some first day of school procedures and activities. I'll be teaching Eleventh grade so I am not sure if childish icebreakers will be ideal.

    Anybody with any advice whatsoever, I would more than appreciate. Just feeling lost and possibly behind...
     
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  3. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Yes to all of this.
    Marzano is extremely useful.
    I would begin by creating units of lesson plans that address the standards.
    You also need to be preparing classroom procedures and expectations.
    As for a syllabus, contact other teachers from your dept. See what they do.
    Do you have a mentor? If not, find one on the staff as soon as possible.
    Have you seen your classroom?

    Are you using the Common Core standards? If so, you have the following categories of standards: Reading Literature, Reading Information, Writing (Narrative, Expository, Argument), Speaking and Listening, Language.
     
  4. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    Jul 31, 2014

    Think about how an ideal classroom period would run. Make a list of everything the students will have to do, from entering the room to leaving at the end of the period. Plan a procedure for each action. How will they turn work in? What if they need to go to the bathroom?
     
  5. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    I agree with all of KU's points. In high school, a strong lesson is the best classroom management tool you can have, so start on those lessons ASAP! I'm not in a common core state, but we have similar strands. I use those as my guide when I make a unit of study. So in each unit, I would make sure I covered at least one standard from each of the big categories. Let your standards drive your literature selection. Too many new teachers (and seasoned ones) pick a story or novel they personally love, but they can't articulate to the students or anyone else exactly what it is in the standards that they are trying to teach with that piece.

    Do you have a state assessment in the 11th grade? If so, that will need to be heavily considered in your planning. You'll need to know that test inside and out.

    I also teach juniors, and I'm not too big on the traditional ice breakers. I want them to start writing or brainstorming pretty much right away. Sometimes I'll have some word games that they can do independently. Once I have them doing that for a few minutes, then I get into the syllabus and rules, but only very briefly. I want to set the tone on day one that we are going to be reading and writing every single day. So I might spend no more than 10 minutes on that, then we read something like a poem or a paragraph or two... High interest and engaging. I want them to trust my reading selections for them, but again, I want them to get that we work bell to bell every day. The fastest way to lose control is to have "down time" in your room. Over plan for every day.
     
  6. MissAlys

    MissAlys Rookie

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    Jul 31, 2014



    I haven't seen my room at all, but I do have a mentor, who I will meet next week during New Teacher Orientation. I also have a meeting to meet the rest of the department next week, as well. I will start thinking of some procedures and do a rough draft of a syllabus. I guess I have just been waiting to see if they will tell me anything next week and I shouldn't. Next week isn't pre-planning, its the week after next, but I have tons of meetings lined up at the school with numerous different people.

    In between my online Marzano course, I have been looking at some of my MTP's and looking through my textbooks and units for the first nine-weeks and I've gotten some great ideas about what I want to go over and the standards that go with them. I have also found a ton of lesson plans that my district has already provided so I think I will use those.
     
  7. MissAlys

    MissAlys Rookie

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    This is a great idea, I will get on planning all of this today. During my interview, I told them that I would over plan cause I have such a fear of losing control of my classroom, so I guess now is a good time to start.
     
  8. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Jul 31, 2014

    Just so you know, what you are feeling is completely normal! Even once you get started you´ll find you always have a million things to do at any given time. The ¨teaching¨ is only one part of being a teacher. Honestly, it sounds like you have enough resources right now to start planning your first week. I would start there (of course figure out your management system...classroom discipline, dealing with homework, how and where work is turned into, how it gets passed back...those things sound minor but if you don´t have a plan it can be a small nightmare). Do you have a pacing guide? Find out from your co-teachers what they will be doing and following. Don´try to reinvent the wheel. Save yourself time. Later you can tweak and modify, but I would greatly be looking to my colleagues right now. Good luck and congrats on your job!
     
  9. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Jul 31, 2014

    Get a rough sketch of the year.

    Mine for seniors looks like:
    First quarter: Beowulf, epic paper, independent reading, Canterbury Tales, CT narrative writing
    Second: Macbeth, research paper, independent reading
    Third: 1984/BNW, persuasive debate with books, independent reading
    Fourth: contemporary short pieces and nonfiction, senior footprint, independent reading

    It gives me a clear idea of where they're going. Once I have that, I start to plan more deeply. I decide on specifics. Right now I have August and September filled with good, solid plans.

    Definitely plan your rules and procedures now. You will need to teach those right away.

    I do calendars for students by month. I never make reading due two days in a row. I try to have reading due Monday and Thursday. They get more time to do it then, which helps with scheduling.

    The first day I introduce myself and give them a survey. I give a brief intro to the course, explain what materials they need, and establish how I want my room to run. We may briefly discuss summer reading. I may do a getting to know you activity if we have time.
     
  10. MissAlys

    MissAlys Rookie

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    Thanks Tami,

    Your post makes me feel less like a failure lol. I have already started doing my policies and procedures and rules. I do have a pacing guide, but I will be meeting with my grade level next week and I will be sure to ask them what they will be doing and when. I don't know what my options for classroom set books is, I was gonna wait to find out till my meetings next week. Hopefully next week and the week after will answer all of my questions. Until then, I will work on my policies and keep looking over the pacing guide so I can get a general idea.
     
  11. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Jul 31, 2014

    The only ice breaker I do is a quiz about me (silly true/false questions) that lets them get to know me a bit. Then, we move into our first activity.

    What Band wrote is very useful. Start with your standards and move to materials (not vice versa).

    Don't feel like a failure! No one ever knows how to start. But, you do need to hit the ground running. And, you have time now to do what another poster said - think about what you want a class period to look like.

    Are you on a traditional schedule (meaning 6 to 8 class periods of the same students every day?) If so, I know a lot of English teachers who organize their day like: Bell work, standard-based activity of the day, formative activity (not always formal), closure. If you are on a block schedule, days tend to look like: Bell work, standard-based activity 1, formative 1, standard-based activity 2, formative 2, standard-based activity 3, formative 3, closure.

    Band's words on working bell to bell are EXTREMELY important for all teachers, but I've seen 2 new teacher crash and burn (not renewed) because 10 minutes of down town too many days in a row turned the classroom into a circus ... students will try to run the show, "oh, we don't have time for that, let's start it tomorrow." Don't let this start. A simple, "nope, let's keep moving" works.

    Make use of your down time now. The beginning of the year is exhausting (or, at least for me - I get wiped). So, if you can get a few weeks of solid plans put together plus a year-long overview of plans, you will be in good shape.
     
  12. MissAlys

    MissAlys Rookie

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    I have periods, not sure how many so far, but probably about six. I have managed to write down what I want a bell to bell day to look like on the first day. I guess I am just worried about when it would be appropriate to just dive right into the work, should the first week be just one giant getting to know you exercise or can I get into my lessons on the second day?
     
  13. rapple

    rapple Rookie

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    Jul 31, 2014

    My advice for any teacher is procedures, procedures, procedures from the first minute! I utilize Harry Wong's First Days of School - and still re-read it before school starts every year. I stand at my door (high school), make eye contact and greet each student (ask for name if not known); I then hand each one a fill-in-the-blank procedure outline with their name and seating assignment printed on the top. Each student is instructed to find their assigned seats (I have letter/numbers on desks) and to QUIETLY walk to their desk and begin to fill in their procedure outline as displayed on the projector. This procedure has worked well for me for years. After tardy bell rings, I thank those students who followed my first procedure (walking quietly to desk and beginning work immediately). I then introduce myself briefly and then return to the procedures.
     
  14. allaragallagher

    allaragallagher Comrade

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    I'm also a first year teacher. I teach three grades, five classes, traditional schedule, and the periods are 43 minutes.

    My first week with my 9th graders is devoted to procedures right now. I'll get us started faster if I need to. We start on a Tuesday. My first day I will go over my syllabus and supply list and get contact info from my students. The other days start with bell ringers and have activities like vocabulary inventory, writing survey, and a reading survey. One day is taken up by a tutorial of the book of the month program I'm using. We might visit the school library the first week. I'm also going to do learning styles and multiple personalities tests. That gets them up and moving, gives me crucial planning information early on, and serves as an icebreaker for older students. It also leads in well to a lecture on study skills and organization! Friday I start our first writing unit in by assigning homework over the weekend.

    It won't be the same with my 11th and 12th graders though. As of now, I think I teach Honors. I think (I haven't planned anything specific out for them yet) they will start writing the first day and turn in a paper by Monday. Maybe.
     
  15. rapple

    rapple Rookie

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    Jul 31, 2014

    My school district begins the first week with minimum days which leaves each class period with 35 minutes. The first two days I concentrate on procedures but I make time to go over a simple review concept from a previous year just so students will know that Classtime=Worktime!! As other's have stated - over plan! Your greatest ally in keeping your class well-managed is holding firmly to your procedures and keeping the class functioning from bell to bell.

    Oh ~ I also give the students a procedure quiz on the third day! The students who complete it with 100% earn a 'ticket to success'. I want my students to know that I am watching and rewarding those who follow my procedures!
     
  16. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    My first unit is my "get to know you" activity. I have a personality profile assessment that the kids complete and analyze on days 1 and 2. On days 3 and 4 they research their astrological signs. Through all of this I teach/evaluate/assess vocabulary, nonfiction text structures, note-taking, summarization, main idea vs details. Then I have them write a compare and contrast essay over the two personality evaluations, asking them ultimately, which one do they feel is most accurate in describing their personality-- the psychologists or the astrologists. Some years, I make this a full process paper that takes several days to complete. Some years, we just work to a rough draft. Either way, in their essays, I want specific details from their lives to support their assertions. So, in this unit, I am teaching skills required in our state standards, and I'm getting to know them. That's how I do it.

    I have a detailed plan with handouts, etc for this. If you want them, PM me. :)

    Btw, I teach on an accelerated block... 80 min every day for 18 weeks, so what I can do in two days may take longer on a traditional schedule.
     
  17. fullofsunshine

    fullofsunshine New Member

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    Aug 3, 2014

    I just found this website and would love this lesson plan! I am a first year teacher and was trying to figure out how to do the "get to know you" type stuff and still be meeting standards with it. (Tried to send you a PM but since I just registered it wouldn't let me.)
     
  18. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Sunshine, I sent you a PM...
     
  19. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Hey bandnerd, I think I sent you a PM but am not sure if it worked -- I would love to see some of your materials for this lesson, especially a good printable personality inventory (I haven't found a good printable one online). Thank you!!
     
  20. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Have you checked to see if your school or district has a pacing guide? If your department decides collectively what books will be tackled in what years or at what times?
     
  21. abat_jour

    abat_jour Companion

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    Aug 10, 2014

    if you cant find it online, type it out in word. I am doing that for the textbook right now; retyping text with integrated questions that ask for certain synonyms and checks for understandings.

    I create my own heading with a number-letter system to indicate chapter and type of activity.
     
  22. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    MissAlys,

    Have you been able to find out what resources you have? For example, do you know what literature or other books that the students will be using? I would begin with what you have. Then, I would do what you can to see from online sources and other sources how you can get better sources to teach the standards you want to teach. For example, when I taught middle school language arts, I found there were nearly no books, but when I went to the district office they helped me find an incredible amount of excellent literature class sets.

    Then, decide when you are going to do what...example syllabus for at least yourself and probably for admin. and students as well. Finally, then you can put together how to teach each part well. Don't forget your end game. What is that you really want the students to leave your classroom knowing and being able to do. Literature is nearly limitless in its potential. Enjoy!
     
  23. newengltchr

    newengltchr Rookie

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    Aug 10, 2014

    Definitely spend time discussing rules, procedures, and going over your syllabus. It seems as though many teachers on here rush right into reading and writing, which is okay, but if you spend the time getting to know them and discussing your expectations, it'll save you a ton of time later on. We're starting on a Monday and I plan to spend that entire week talking about expectations of myself and of them. It's important for them to be a part of the process. Of course, I will have a DO NOW and some sort of mini writing assignment each day, but it won't be heavy. Depth not breadth!

    Try to steer away from planning every day of every month. While calendars are nice to have for the students, it limits true educational opportunities that might come up in discussion. In reality, you're not going to get to every standard and, if you do, you're not teaching, you're "covering." Make English class meaningful to them by doing something different! One writing assignment per week, per quarter, per semester, or whatever people do, is so archaic. Spice it up and let them decide! It's part of the critical thinking process.

    I'm a first-year English teacher, too, but these are some of the aspects that I focused on during student teaching that helped me tremendously.

    In addition, this website is absolutely wonderful; however, there are times where you can get bogged down in what other people have to say. You're the teacher. It's your classroom. Trust your instinct and let it roll! Then, at the end of the day, month, and school year, reflect. It's your best strategy. Otherwise, you'll get too caught up in what others have to say.

    Let's help each other out! PM me!

    Best of luck!
     
  24. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I disagree, you do need to hit every standard. In high school with CC, they are combined (9-10, 11-12). Figure out what the other teacher went more in-depth on. The 9th grade English teacher here goes into a detailed assessment of figurative language. I cover theme in-depth. It works well for us. But the PARCC tests I've seen cover all the standards pretty well.

    I do give monthly calendars. It helps me see where we're going and allows them to work ahead as needed. Inevitably we have to revise our monthly calendars a few times a year for unexpected things. It's no big deal. Every college course I took had a syllabus. I afford my students that same right.

    I spend the first day doing a general introduction to the course. Then I dive right in to work. They're old enough to understand what's expected of them. I review expectations as they come up. The first quiz is when I explain my expectations (written in pen, complete sentences, full answers, etc...)
     
  25. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    I'm with DGP... the expectation is that you address every standard, and our district expects teachers to prove that via our lesson plans, our campus common assessments, and our district benchmark tests... And while some practices seem archaic (and some are!) if you're required by your district to do XYZ in a six weeks, you should probably do that if you want to keep your job...
     
  26. newengltchr

    newengltchr Rookie

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    Aug 13, 2014

    Could you PM me the lesson plans please? Thank you!
     
  27. newengltchr

    newengltchr Rookie

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    We'll agree to disagree! :) I think it all depends on the district and the demographics. I, personally, think that the standards are great, but I think we're too caught up in connecting every single thing and covering every single thing. I know plenty of excellent teachers who don't get to every standard, and they have plenty of valid reasons as to why they don't. If we were to address every single standard, the K-12 education would have to be K-20. There's a lot of research that talks about this. A former professor currently works with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in Massachusetts, and many of the people on the Common Core committee discuss how there are too many standards for each grade. It needs to be revised and narrowed down even more. Once again, this is just my opinion. I believe in delivering effective instruction, but I will never allow a test or standards to run my classroom.
     
  28. allaragallagher

    allaragallagher Comrade

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    Aug 13, 2014

    I just got told I'm teaching 8th grade... School starts Tuesday.

    ... and when I sat down with the other English teacher to show her my lesson plans for my juniors, she informed she teaches all that sophomore year.

    What do I do?
     
  29. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I hate to sound like a broken record but go back to the standards. My district is not at all testing heavy. We de-emphasize the tests and we don't let them dictate our curriculum. That being said you really DO need to make sure all the standards are covered. Otherwise you leave students with gaps and do them a disservice when they get to college or their next teacher who expects them to have covered xyz. What if that lesson you don't get to is parallel structure? So they just never learn how to use parallel structure? What if you run out of time and don't do narrative writing and then that's what's emphasized on the test? I've yet to find a district that says "just teach whatever standards you feel like".

    Some standards can be covered quickly or in other grades if you have split standards. I'd hate for my students' graduation to rest on a standard I ran out of time to cover :2cents: You can always introduce them to things and then go deeper into it later.

    The common core curriculum map book has some great units. I would start there. You have 8th grade and juniors?

    When I taught 8th:
    The Outsiders
    Animal Farm
    The Hunger Games
    Holocaust/Civil Rights unit

    Those were my big four. Everything else fit into them.

    Juniors:
    Scarlet Letter
    The Great Gatsby
    Shorter pieces from American literature-taught by date.
    The other English teacher teaches this one.

    Are you in a CC state?
     
  30. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Aug 13, 2014

    Allar, I PMed you!
     
  31. allaragallagher

    allaragallagher Comrade

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    Aug 13, 2014

    I am in a CC state and, yes, I agree it's my job to teach ALL the standards. However, that doesn't help me figure out where to start or what to read. You can teach those standards 1001 ways. I was planning on having my 8th graders read the novels I was given: The Outsiders and the Holocaust unit books: Anne Frank and Night. I think I'm starting with short stories though and walking them through writing a five paragraph essay from start to finish.

    It's my juniors I'm lost on. I teach one Honors class. I had planned to teach American Literature starting from pre-colonialism to modern times with a focus on New England authors and culture (since I live there!) However, when I sat down to show my four weeks of rough plans to the other a English teacher she said: I teach all this to my sophomores. It's in this textbook too (referring to her sophomore one).

    Where do I start then? I have my 8th graders starting with short stories, my 9th graders are doing a narrative writing unit and reading The a Giver, and my 12th grade Honor students are reading Beowulf.
     
  32. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Aug 13, 2014

    I would highly suggest a more world lit focus with your juniors if they do American lit their sophomore year.

    My junior year was world lit and we read:
    Dante's Inferno
    Taming of the Shrew
    Death of a Salesman

    I loved Dante's Inferno. It's also in the common domain so you could definitely use it. I do a world lit focus (or am moving to it anyways) with my sophomores. Last year we did Night, Antigone, If Mice and Men, and a young adult lit circles with dystopian books. This year I'm swamping Antigone for A Raisin in the Sun. I'm also adding An Ordinary Man and First They Killed My Father to my sophomore honors. My kids traditionally LOVE An Ordinary Man about the Rwandan genocide. It's a whole new world for them. You could try and do a donors choose project. It's how I got my YA dystopian books.

    For anything that I teach, I'm happy to share resources. I have lots-quizzes, essay prompts, etc... I build my short stories and poems into my units. We start our dystopian unit by reading "A Sound of Thunder" and "Harrison Bergeron".

    What major works do you have available to you for the juniors?
     
  33. allaragallagher

    allaragallagher Comrade

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    Aug 14, 2014

    I can't do Taming of the Shrew. She does that. I'm thinking of starting off with a compare classic vs. modern tragedies and reading Oedipus Rex, Antigone, and then Death of a Salesman. And then maybe do a post apocalyptic compare classic vs modern unit: The Road and a The Time Machine. All off the AP reading list. Maybe King Lear and A Thousand Acres.
     
  34. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Dover has great cheap books! That's where I got my copies of Shrew and Midsummer from.
     
  35. mrs.whatsit

    mrs.whatsit Rookie

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    Aug 22, 2014

    the first year is always super hard! But my first piece of advice is to get classroom culture and management down first and then start teaching important material. Token economies are a great way to motivate students. Students earn points for good behavior choices and then can use those points to redeem rewards. Make sure you pair this with strong best teacher practices. A great book to read is Love and Logic: Teaching as well as Teach Like a Champion.
     

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