First year teacher

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by wcormode, Jun 20, 2010.

  1. wcormode

    wcormode Rookie

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    Jun 20, 2010

    I graduated in May and after the calls for interviews and job openings started to dwindle I was becoming resigned to the fact that I may have to sub for at least a year. However I got an offer and accepted.

    This job is for a very small district, 85 students in 9-12, so I will be the only math teacher in the high school.

    How do I manage 6-7 preps per day? What suggestions are there for how I can start the year off right? In todays economy how many items can I reasonably ask for from the administration before the year begins. I have not been in to sign the contract yet and I will ask then what is in the room. I know there is not a projector and I assume that there are graphing calculators. a few of my lessons are on Powerpoint but I am not worried about that. How long should I wait to ask for that?

    Any other advice is welcome.
     
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  3. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    Jun 20, 2010

    Congrats on your first job :)
     
  4. Reality Check

    Reality Check Habitué

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    Jun 20, 2010

    wcormode - I only wanted to send along congratulations!

    That's actually an amazing story you laid out in those first two paragraphs. Calls dwindling, call for a job, small high school of 85, you're the only math teacher, and it means you beat out other candidates for that job, too.

    Seriously, that gets (and got) a "Wow!" out of me when I read it. You beat some incredible odds there.

    I don't teach math, but one thing that jumped out at me from INteacher's post was being "very organized and structured" with the 6-7 preps. She's absolutely correct. I don't have my own classroom and have different levels of English that I have to load on my back everyday and move from room-to-room. Since I don't get back to the closet they gave me that they have the nerve to call an office until after my schedule is done for the day, I have to be sure I have everything I need once I head out. Naturally, you won't face that, but the point being that organization is everything.

    Best of luck to you and whatever you do, make that 6-7 preps work out for you no matter what!
     
  5. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Virtuoso

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    Jun 21, 2010

    It will be a challenge, but it's not something that can't be done. Be organized, and make sure to have a plan for each group. If you have your own classroom, that will help.

    One year I started my day at the high school where I taught 12th grade British literature, 11th grade American literature, and 9th grade English. Then I went across town where I taught 7th grade reading. I was also working on my state-required internship, and I was taking grad school classes at night in the next town. I didn't have my own classroom, and being at two different schools made me feel like I really wasn't a part of either one.

    I really didn't have any help network in the building because everyone else was teaching fewer preps (usually 1-2) and had a classroom where they stayed all day.

    In your situation you may be helped by being in a small school setting. I'd assume that the other teachers are in your same situation. Ask them for pointers on how to manage that many preps.
     
  6. kfhsdramaqueen

    kfhsdramaqueen Rookie

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    Jun 21, 2010

    Organization

    I had five preps my first year - Music, Theatre, Speech, ESL and Sophomore English, and three classrooms. I had a small dayplanner for each class, so I could keep track of each subject's test, quizzes, etc. Each one had a different cover. The teacher's that I shared rooms with allowed me to keep things I needed each day in the room, like books etc, so I only had to haul papers, lessons, etc. It was also a 4 story building with no elevator. I also had those expandable files to keep each class organized. It was rough, but I got through it. I'm back up to 3 now, and will probably stay that way for awhile. I may go back up to four next year, we'll see. Good luck.
     
  7. BCPMWK

    BCPMWK Companion

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    Jun 22, 2010

    1. Set up a calendar (monthly) so that you can see where you want to go for each class. Obviously, it is difficult to know that you'll be able to accomplish all that you've planned but it can really help.
    2. Consider using a big binder for each class, or maybe you can fit two classes in one. Put your calendar in the front. Buy or make dividers (I often use old file folders) for the sections you want your students to have in their binders. Or, just keep adding to it in the same order that you teach. Be sure to write what you actually assigned/taught, not just what you had planned to do that day. This will also help you with make-up work.
    3. If you will have wireless, you could consider doing this via electronic notebook.
    4. Decide how you want to handle the papers. I recently bought some very lightweight book bags, similar to the ones sold for a dollar to carry groceries. I have a different one for each class. That way, I just pick up that class's bag if I have papers to grade at night. When I take up the papers or get them from the turn-in basket, I go ahead and put them in the correct bag. If you're using baskets for the students to turn in their work, consider getting a different color for each class. I have three wire baskets, and I tape a note card with the period number on it for each class.
    ...I'll keep thinking
     
  8. ebrillblaiddes

    ebrillblaiddes Companion

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    Jun 22, 2010

    Give yourself permission to follow the book (or existing district-adopted curriculum separate from the book if it's well-structured). With that many preps and not a lot of activities from previous years to work on, you can probably figure on getting a more creative/hands-on lesson out to each class about every week and a half to two weeks on a rotating basis. Being fresh out of school you will think "this isn't research-based and constructivist like they said we should do" but wearing yourself out so that you snap and yell and hate it and hate them and quit to work at Starbucks (yes, I knew a teacher who quit to work at Starbucks) is not research-based either.

    Double-dip wherever possible; topics repeat from class to class. You may be able to use an Alg 1 assignment in Alg 2 by changing "y=" to "f(x)=" (if it even takes that much change). Again, it might feel like you're cheating or not giving 100%, but you have to pace yourself; you cannot spend even half an hour on every single lesson plan because that's three and a half hours every single night if you don't grade anything. It is really important to pace yourself.

    If you can't get your hands on a projector that hooks up to your computer for PowerPoints, you can print off the slides on transparencies and show them that way...obviously you won't be able to use animations or multimedia clips but it's better than nothing.

    Don't assume that there are graphing calculators; some schools have them, some schools don't. If you end up without them, work out when you'll need them and schedule computer lab time so you can use GraphCalc or similar (if you're allowed to download and install) or an online graphing calculator.

    Have the students score their own (or each other's) homework in class. Feedback the morning after they do the work is more meaningful than feedback the morning after their work makes its way to the top of the backlog that's inevitable if you try to score everything yourself.
     
  9. wcormode

    wcormode Rookie

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    Jun 22, 2010

    Thank you so much for all of the advice everyone.

    The principal has left town until after the 4th of July but I can get into my room and get keys then. I wont know the answers to my questions until then. I signed my contract today and he informed me that they are currently negotiating to lower the pay scale a little bit but no matter what I will be making at least double anything I have ever made in a single year.

    I intend to begin lesson planning as soon as I get the books so I will get a month head start so I don't fall too far behind once the year begins.
     
  10. KateL

    KateL Habitué

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    Jun 23, 2010

    One of my colleagues in the math department checks homework during class everyday as the students do their daily warm-up problems. She has a form on her clipboard, and she knows the correct answers to the problems, so she can quickly mark a score for each student on the clipboard. She also gives each student a quick verbal comment - "You should have multiplied instead of dividing in question #5", "Check again which numbers you plugged into the formula in #8", etc. She gets through the whole class of 30 in about 8 minutes. When she's done, she asks the students for 3 problems that they had extra trouble with, and she goes over them on the board as a class. This way she doesn't have to take massive piles of grading home, and the students get immediate feedback. Everyone wins!
     
  11. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jun 23, 2010

    The good news is that, even with 5 preps, you'll only have 85 kids. (A typical year for me is more like 180, plus a homeroom.) And, even better, you'll really get to know your kids and what they know, having taught the same kids every year.

    What I do each summer is map out each of my preps. I set up a table on Word for each course. With my syllabus in front of me, I list each different lesson, its homework assignment, and any notes (as in: graph paper needed soon!) I always expand in it during the year, but it gives me a good sense of direction. If you feel like it, PM me with your email address and I'll send you this year's versions. They may give you an idea.

    As kids enter my room, there's a Do Now problem up. (I frequently give SAT math prep questions-- to ALL grades!) As the kids do those, I take attendance, then walk around the room checking homework. It doesn't have to be correct; it just has to be done. (I know what the 2nd or 3rd problem is-- that's the one I'm looking for, though I don't tell the kids that. But that way I see the homework,not yesterday's classwork.) I run a highliighter through the assignment so a buddy doesn't show me the same page later in the day.

    My school doesn't use graphing calculators. In fact, our kids don't use calculators at all until they hit Trig sophomore year in the Geometry course.

    All I really use in the way of supplies is a projector (for those SAT problems) and some chalk and a blackboard.

    Stagger your tests. (I test every 2 weeks, regardless of where I am in the syllabus.) So test your frosh and juniors one week; sophs and seniors the next. It will keep you from losing your mind in terms of making up the tests, getting them run off, and all the grading. And, as you make up a test, spend an extra 5 minutes making up an alternate version to use as a makeup. All you need to do is change the numbers, just so the kid won't know the anwers walking in. But it's much easier to do when you're making up the original test than to remember to do later. Xerox a few days ahead of time; otherwise you can be sure that the Xerox will break down the morning you counted on running in and running of that first period test.

    If you're in the same room all day, invest in a vertical file. Each class (as well as your homeroom) has its own folder. That way, if you hand back papers and Susie is absent, you can put her test into the file. If a memo comes about concerning next week's assembly, it can go into your homeroom folder. Extra worksheets go into the "extras" folder.

    Ask for 2 copies of each textbook, one for home and one for school. (Or I guess a teacher's edition could be your "home" copy. I've never used one but I guess you would probably have access to them.) Know that a lot of the texts give the odd numbered answers in the back. TELL THE KIDS that on the first day (so they don't think you haven't discovered it). Then decide whether you'll assign only the evens for homework.

    Let me know how I can help you, OK?
     
  12. wcormode

    wcormode Rookie

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    Jun 23, 2010

    It is an 8 period bell schedule and I will have 7 teaching periods. Last years school wide course descriptions include 8 class descriptions one of which is a 1/2 semester class. If all 8 are required with the current students then I could see half a year being double duty one hour. But it is possible to have a year where all the students are in Geometry and no one needs basic Geometry. Likewise with Algebra and basic Algebra. The basic classes will also make my job easier because they will be the same information just slower.

    So, now that I look at it, it appears that my "actual" preps are more like 5. The 6th being a math assessment class for students that failed a previous state assessment. That class should be fluid and could be easier if they purchase the Renaissance system that I will recommend.

    The senior math class is what will be difficult from year to year because it become whatever the needs of the seniors that take it are. It could be Calculus or trig or precalc or college algebra or etc.
     
  13. TechnoMage

    TechnoMage Companion

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    Jul 4, 2010

    Be Prepared

    To enter a different world. If this small school is rural (like the one I currently teach in) you have a great "adventure" ahead. Rural children know everthing about every other child to the nth degree. They have been together since babyhood, and you are the "stranger" they have been warned about. Don't take anything for granted, seek out the longest teaching employee in the school and find out everthing they know. Be careful who you confide in and talk to. Everyone is related to everyone else in a small community. Stay on task with the students and don't get pulled into their drama. Rural kids do it out of boredom. Don't take it personally, keep them very, very, busy.:huh: Been there, still there.

    PS while it may seem better to teach two different levels, I have always found it far better to teach mixed classes. The basic students learn much from the help of others especially in groups (hand picked, controlled on short leashes). Just a thought and from my experience.
    TechnoMage
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2010

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