HELP!! 1st year teacher advice!

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Aspiringinstruc, Aug 5, 2013.

  1. Aspiringinstruc

    Aspiringinstruc Rookie

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    Aug 5, 2013

    So... I am first year teacher this year teaching 4th grade in an elementary school. The first day of school is Wednesday and our team hasn't met to plan anything. I keep asking them what the first days of school will look like and they just tell me that all we do is teach rules, proceudres, expectations and a few getting to know you games all day. Is this forreal?? I feel like I will cover procedures and rules in an hour and will be out of things to do... I need advice. What do you all do on the first days of school? I'm kinda on my own right now as far as planning for the first 3 days. :(
     
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  3. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Aug 5, 2013

    I usually give a math review, so I can see who is really struggling (not a test, just an assignment.) I use the review pages in the beginning of the math book, and also make a 2 digit by 1 digit multiplication sheet at www.math-aids.com . It is a free site.

    We also do an "All About Me" booklet, that will be finished by Back to School Night -- and that is when the parents get to see it.

    I also teach Citizenship during social studies, which leads into their first test of the year -- on Citizenship. This goes along with setting rules and procedures.

    I do two read alouds the first day -- Mrs. Malarky Doesn't Live in Room 10 and First Day Jitters. On the second day I read Officer Buckle and Gloria and "How Full is Your Bucket for Kids."
    We then do a "bucket filling" activity.

    I keep a running list of procedures on my desk (such as pencil sharpening, where to store lunch boxes, when it is time to select books from the classroom library, etc.) and I check off each one as I do it. Most of them come up naturally, but with the check list, I make sure I don't forget any.

    Some teachers do a tour of the school, but our school is small and all of my students have been here before and know where everything is.

    Does that help?

    -Rain
     
  4. HorseLover

    HorseLover Comrade

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    Aug 5, 2013

    Hey it will be my first year also, and I will be teaching in 4th grade! I think I'm going to follow this post to get advice also :) My year doesn't start quite as soon, but it will come up fast I know!
     
  5. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Oh yeah, I almost forgot -- practice what to do for the first fire drill. Kids need to know how to line up, who turns off the light and closes the door, which door they are supposed to go through, and where they are supposed to stand outside. They also need to be reminded that there is no talking at any time during a fire drill.
     
  6. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Congrats, HorseLover. I'm glad you got the job! You'll love 4th grade. It is a really fun age group.:)
     
  7. queenie

    queenie Groupie

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    Aug 5, 2013

    YES, this is for real! If you are only planning to spend an hour on procedures, you might want to rethink it a little. TRUST ME. It's not about TELLING them what to do- it's about modeling (step by tiny step) and letting them practice each thing- how and when to get a pencil, what to do if they have to use the restroom, what to do when they want to say something or ask a question, what to do when they finish their work, how to get a book from the classroom library, where to turn in work, how to head their papers, what to do when they enter or exit the room, emergency drills, and SO MUCH MORE. :dizzy:

    Assume nothing. If you want it, you MUST teach it. I plan out the procedures I want to teach and then add some getting to know you activities in the empty spaces on the schedule. Spending some time up front on procedures will pay BIG dividends later on :thumb:
     
  8. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    This is so true. My list of procedures is over 10 pages long. I present them in order of importance and in the order I know they will happen. I interspace it between activities, games, and ice breakers. We also learn a song or two (action songs -- so they can get up and move around.)

    I try to have them sit for a few minutes listening, then get up and model what we are talking about (example: pencil sharpening dos and don'ts.) Then we do an activie game or song, then we are ready to sit down for a while longer and do something a bit quieter. I try to get them up and down every 5-10 minutes, so they don't zone out.
     
  9. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    Aug 5, 2013

    You know, your team is probably right. You have to teach them EVERYTHING. I will be sitting down over the next few days and mapping out all my rules and routines to teach. Each year that I teach, I find myself spending more and more time on this critical part of the year. Just because they can recite the rules, doesn't mean they truly know what they "look like." Practice them until you can't stand it. Then practice again. Yes, it can be frustrating. But you will thank yourself later!!
     
  10. kayina

    kayina Rookie

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    What works really well is having them come into the classroom and work on something. I usually have 2-3 pieces of paper for them to work on in whatever order they choose to. They include a few all about me type sheets, a paper that asks about their reading preferences, and one that asks about basic security (address, parents names, phone number).

    Once everyone comes into the classroom, they will be busy completing their worksheets. In the first 15 minutes, you will know which students need extra attention (they can't sit quietly to do their task, have a million questions, non-stop talking, etc.)

    After everyone is settled, you ask them to put down their pencils and you immediately start teaching your procedures and routines. What do you do or say to get everyone's attention? (I use give me 5) and you practice that at least 5 times in different scenarios. You teach the position they sit in when you ask for attention (sitting in chair, back straight, hands folded). Then you explain the assignment that they are working on. Show them where to find pencils and what to do with broken ones. Show them the file system and how to turn in their work. Show them the options for early finishers. Establish a working volume in the classroom. If they have questions, do they come to you or do you go to them?

    Once the assignment is done, you can see who remembered to turn things into the right place, and who cannot sit still.

    Call the class using the attention getter you chose and then go over classroom rules (let them pick and discuss expectations) and then go over consequences. Explain and model.

    Recess time, explain how you want them to stand in a line, and what a bad line looks like.

    If they don't do it, they all sit back down and start over. Do this ALL RECESS if necessary. Same thing for when you walk back to the classroom. If they don't do it well, make them all go back and do it again.

    Go over:
    Office procedures
    Getting materials
    Asking for help
    Drinking water
    Going to the bathroom
    Pencil boxes
    School supplies
    Rewards and consequence ladder
    Behavioral expectations


    Then have a nice first day of school project. I like to do a self-portrait with some writing. I change it up every year so that sometimes they are using scissors and construction paper, or people cutouts, or various other things. That way after you have gone over all the rules, you let them do something fun and you immediately enforce things on the first day of school.

    Don't be afraid to give consequences on the first day of school. Take away recess, switch seats, call home, if you need to. This sets precedence for the whole year.
     
  11. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Aug 6, 2013

    Maybe your team hasn't met to plan yet, because they don't meet to plan. It sounds like they have already given you some advice, but the actual planning has to take place on your own. This has always been the case for me.

    As others have said, it should take longer than one hour to teach routines and expectations. My entire first 2 weeks consists of a mix of routine practice, getting-to-know-you activities, and beginning-of-the-year assessments. Think of all of the things you need to model and practice: what to do in the morning, when to sharpen pencils, how to use your classroom library, how to line up for specials, where to find supplies, etc. Find ways to make it fun, too, or they're going to get bored just listening to you talk.
     
  12. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    Aug 6, 2013

    You've been given EXCELLENT advice on how to teach this AWESOME age group. I LOVE Grade 4 kids...old enough to show responsibility; young enough to still love their teacher. :)

    As others have said (and here I am a broken record): you will want more than one hour teaching procedures. Yes, YOU will know them very well because perhaps you've thought about them all summer...but your kids...whose brains have only been on this earth for eight short years...will need LOTS of practice and lots of encouragement. It's not a cookie recipe...do it and we're done. :) It's time and time again.

    Have fun... you will love teaching these students!

    And we're just a click away if you need advice on any particular matter. :)
     
  13. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Aug 6, 2013

    First, I'm not sure when it will hit you, but eventually you will walk into your classroom and you will see it is just you and your students and your team won't be there. A grade-level team can be a wonderful support and can open your mind to new ways of doing things. I wouldn't wait for them to plan. I would start preparing right away and then listen to them to get some advice.

    The 3 things that are most important though in any grade the first three days are (in order): teaching routines & rules, building a positive classroom climate, and find out where students are at with some type of simple assessments in reading and math. Your students need to know how things are done in your room. For example:

    1. Bathroom procedures?
    2. What to do if they have a question? (my suggestion-raising hand)
    3. Where do they put their name, date, and heading on their paper?
    4. Classroom rules (what are they?) (model these for them and/or use literature to help them see why they are important.
    5. School supplies-where do they go and procedures how to get them when they need them.
    6. If you want their attention, what signal will you use?

    Be very patient and don't cover too much at one time. Try your best to make it fun. Lessons should be short with only enough teacher talking in minutes to equal their age. (9 minutes for 4th grade)

    Hope this helps some.
     
  14. AlexaD

    AlexaD Companion

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    Aug 6, 2013

    Great advice here, keep it coming! I, too, am a new fourth grade teacher for my first year of teaching and I am the only fourth grade teacher in the school - no grade team. This makes me a little anxious, but I'm really glad for the forum support offered here.
     
  15. stacey19

    stacey19 Rookie

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    I was a first year teacher last year. It sounds crazy, but I swear we spent the first few days doing getting to know you games and going over and over rules and procedures. Several times we practiced things like lining up, walking in the halls, getting in groups and switching groups quietly, etc. These things are very time consuming, especially if you have a difficult class. BEST OF LUCK!
     
  16. Matt633

    Matt633 Comrade

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    Aug 6, 2013

    At my school all of the students know each other. If I happen to have a new student I will do more getting to know each other activities. In my welcome letter I ask them to bring a paper bag with 3 things in it (can be a drawing, picture etc) of things they did this summer. You can assign this the first day if you want. Then they stand up to tell about the things in their bag. I model it first. Eventually I turn this into writing their first 5 paragraph essay.

    We spend time discussing our text books, looking through them. It's a good way to see what excites them.

    I do start with Spelling the first day because we start on a Monday and I can't afford to waste a week.

    I use a classroom economy system so I spend a lot of time explaining how that works and we set up their credit/debit books. I use this for behavior. We make up our class rules (with a lot of guiding by me.) I then explain jobs and pay and the rent they have to pay. I read a couple of books about currency.

    We also set up our notebooks. I use dividers, so this is time consuming also. This is where I discuss paper headings and we practice that.

    My advice is to over plan. Do not expect to get through everything. Have flexible plans, because some classes do train easier than others.

    If you haven't already read it I suggest "The First Days of School" by Harry Wong. Even though I've been teaching for a looong time I glanced through it and I am revamping my dismissal procedures, and tweaking my lesson plans because of it.

    Good Luck!
     

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