How to go above and beyond?

Discussion in 'New Teachers' started by eri444, Aug 21, 2010.

  1. eri444

    eri444 Rookie

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    Aug 21, 2010

    I'm a new teacher of middle school mathematics starting in two weeks. I am already prepared for the mounds of paperwork and the difficulties of creating lesson plans from scratch and classroom management as I enter my very first year of teaching. However, given the current economic times, we all know how easy it is for school districts to layoff teachers or deny teachers (who do not already have it) from tenure. My question is, as a first year teacher, how can I go above and beyond to make myself as irreplaceable as possible? I would like to be a valuable asset to the students, their parents, as well as my future colleagues (both teachers & administrators). Do you have any tips on how I can go above and beyond my expected duties (whilst possibly avoiding the infamous teacher burnout)?
     
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  3. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Aug 22, 2010

    Make yourself available to students for extra help, perhaps set up a scheduled morning, lunch hour or after school time each week when students can "drop in" for help.

    Be kind, respectful and professional to everyone.

    Plan and organize a school math competition in the fall.

    Put together some information for parents about how to support their children with math homework (something that parents often struggle with as their children get older).
     
  4. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Aug 22, 2010

    What a GREAT question!!!

    I think the trick to beating any non-seniority hiring issues is for several different groups to realize that you're giving it your all.

    Kids have a pretty good sense for which teachers know their stuff and are prepared. (This is a totally different issue from the teachers they like because they're easy. ) At the end of the day, even a kid who is failing will honestly say which teachers did their job and which did not.

    So that means being prepared every day; not planning to figure it out as you go. Sure, some days your plan flies out the window -- a fire drill kills your plan, or the kids struggled on the homework and you need to re-teach. But you need to go in every single day knowing exactly what you plan to teach, why it's important, and how you're going to approach it. The kids will know.

    Parents are your next group. The overwhelming number of parents are happy if their kids are happy. As to the rest: parents like to be kept in the loop! If you can let them know ahead of time when tests are scheduled, they'll love you forever. (Website or scheduling-- my tests are every 2 weeks and I give the parents the year's schedule on Meet the Teacher night in September. I also let them know that my turnaround time on tests is usually 48 hours.)

    When you first notice that a kid is struggling, give the parents a call. (For me, that means 2 consecutive failing tests.) Just a quickie heads up, no big thing. At the same time, throw in any observations about quiz grades or homework to help mom and dad get a fuller picture.

    Remember, this child is the love of their life- treat those kids kindly. Don't be a pushover, but be kind.

    Finally, administrators:
    - The teachers that administrators tend to love are the ones who dont' get a lot of parent complaints. So if you've dealt with the first 2 groups, you're well on your way.

    In addition:
    -be careful with attendance!!! We take attendance every period. It's incredibly embarassing for an administrator to have to call a parent at work, tell them their child is missing, only to realize the child was in your class this whole time. (I say this as the parent who received the call about my then-6-year old daughter!)
    - Administrators HATE surprises. So if there's an issue of any sort, be sure they get YOUR side first. I once had a parent share with me that her son had been diagnosed as bi-polar; she hadn't told guidance because she didn't want him to be "labeled." I convinced her to call guidance the next morning. Then I went down to guidance and spoke to the director to give him a heads up. The next day, he had all the necessary resources at his fingertips, and had spoken to the other teachers to ask about John's behavior. (He hadn't given any reason-- we know that these requests are normally confidentiality issues.)

    So if there's an issue-- you think too many kids are failing or you think Tommy cut your class or anything else, make SURE you keep administration in the loop!!!
     
  5. Unbeknownst

    Unbeknownst Cohort

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    Aug 22, 2010

    How to go above and beyond:

    Mounds of Paperwork
    Get organized now. Develop a system that works for you so that you can nip the paperwork in the bud.

    Lesson Plans from Scratch
    Using your state standards as a guide, create the OBJECTIVES you want your kiddos to learn for the year. Then think about how you're going to ASSESS whether or not they've learned those objectives. After that, the activities will fall into place. (Map out your first 6/9 weeks like this: It takes time, but is completely worth seeing where your classroom is going.

    Classroom Management
    Read and study Tools for Teaching by Fred Jones. After readin his fully inclusive guide manual to being a first-year teacher, you will have the confidence and know-how to be a great teacher that has the ability to go above and beyond.

    Valuable Asset to the Students
    Make them feel comfortable from day one. That is accomplished by giving them predictable classroom structure and a calm demeanor.

    Also, slow down. Teach the material at an accessible pace to eliminate as much frustration as possible. Your students will love you for it.

    Provide the necessary help for when you need to reteach. Be accesible.

    Parents
    From day one, open up super easy accessibility. Want to go above and beyond? Call every parent and introduce yourself. Give a brief synopsis of your class and expectations, and tell them how excited you are about their child. (NO negativity, even if there is already cause for some.)

    Colleagues
    Be accessible but not a push-over. Volunteer for their duty if they're in a pinch. Go out of your way to volunteer to be a UIL coach. Make assessing you (the administrator's job) be as easy as possible. Keep up with which standards you addressed and when. When your principal assesses you, give him/her your up-to-date portfolio with what you have covered. Makes for a great assessment.

    Beyond that, just let the admin/teacher relaltionship develop. Just do your job and make it easy to see that you're doing your job and that should take care of that.

    There, hope that helps!
     
  6. Unbeknownst

    Unbeknownst Cohort

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    Aug 22, 2010

    lol, Alice.

    That is too scary! We posted at the same time and our format is exactly the same.

    Too funny!
     
  7. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Aug 22, 2010

    Great minds...
     
  8. trayums

    trayums Enthusiast

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    Aug 22, 2010

    Be prepared! Be available! Volunteer! Care about your job, the kids etc. Keep your room neat and tidy!
     
  9. SingBlueSilver

    SingBlueSilver Companion

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    Aug 22, 2010

    Teach with your heart. People notice when you're a truly caring teacher and there for the kids and not a personal agenda.

    Classroom management - you need to know how to take care of things ON YOUR OWN. Administrators tend to dislike complaints of any kind. Having trouble with a certain student? YOU take care of it, don't get an admin involved unless you've exhausted all resources, are tapped out of ideas, and have absolutely no where else to go.
     
  10. webmistress

    webmistress Devotee

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    Aug 22, 2010

    Teaching, like anything, is a marathon, not a sprint race. In order to manage the paperwork, meetings, conferences etc already requires anybody to go above and beyond contracted or paid hours.

    In this district, and I'm sure many others, meeting the demands of basic teaching is literally a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week job. You will have just that much paperwork, trainings, meetings, conferences, extra duties, district walk throughs, planning, organization, interventions, home visits...etc and anyone who can hack that has already gone far above and beyond. Know your district...

    I don't think there's anyone who's irreplaceable, and I wouldn't think I could ever make myself such. I would just go into the job with my main focus being on the students and teaching the students effectively. All else falls into place in due time.

    I would never try to please or impress everyone (district, state, admins, parents, students, staff), that's impossible. I would just do my best, be confident in your abilities, be professional, organized, show your passion, emphasize your strengths, nurture your weaknesses....but don't overwork or something will eventually suffer.

    I didn't consciously try to go above and beyond, it's just a part of my personality that I have a hard time controlling. The other teachers picked up on this, and though we clashed with discipline, they were right when they said go into survival mode and save the extras for later when I am on my feet.


    It all depends on the school and district in the end though. The fact that I had a student that none of the other 5th grade teachers could handle (by their own admission), nor could the principal, nor could his parents...the fact that I was able to reach him (slowly and painfully) means that I went way above and beyond, but that's not something that the district or admins will always value especially if they have already given up on a child.

    You will find yourself going above and beyond from the goodness of your heart, but don't expect it to be recognized or valued, unless you are lucky enough to be in a "good" school and district that truly values and respects its employees and students.
     
  11. Sshintaku

    Sshintaku Comrade

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    Aug 24, 2010

    I would also add to these things... go to meetings - all of them. Go to the extra trainings. Be involved in the committees, etc etc.
     
  12. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Aug 24, 2010

    It's pretty hard to add anything substantial to the advice from Alice and Unbeknownst. They covered the three bases very thoroughly.

    I'm also a first-year middle school math teacher, so we will be making this journey together.

    Last night was our Open House. When the parents came to my room, this is what I told them....

    1) I will be using a new (to our school) technique in class this year called Whole Brain Teaching. This is an exciting approach to ANY subject that keeps the students actively involved in the lesson from start to finish and addresses many different ways of learning at the same time. It keeps students focused and doesn't give them time to become distracted, because they have to respond and follow along with what's happening in the class.

    2) I would LIKE them to buy (or find) a single-subject composition book for their child to use in my class. This will be used for taking notes AND doing their homework assignments. I pointed out that Wal-Mart had these composition books available for .15c last week, but I didn't know if they had any left or not. If they don't, do NOT worry about it and don't spend $2.00 on another school supply just for my class. We'll make do with whatever their child has.

    3) While I WILL be assigning homework every day, I will NOT be "grading" the homework - at least not for accuracy. It WILL be graded for completeness, I want to see that they have at least TRIED to work the problems out. We will go over ALL the problems in class the next day, so if they get it wrong, they can see where they made their mistakes.

    4) If all goes according to plan, I will NOT actually be sending homework HOME! The kids will be given at least 15-20 minutes per class period to finish the assigned work for that day. If they DO bring work home, they shouldn't have more than 3-4 problems left if they used the time given in class. Ideally, I don't want them taking ANY math work home. I'M the one hired to teach them math, parents have enough to do already (that met with a LOT of approval, as you might guess. Very few parents groan about homework from other subjects by saying "I was NEVER any good at English or History in school") ;)

    5) Know your stuff and show your enthusiasm to the kids. Also, let the kids (and parents) know you care about them OUTSIDE of the classroom. During my ST days, I went to several games our kids were playing in. Trust me, the kids (and parents) DEFINITELY noticed that I made the effort to come out and support THEIR kids at the games. As a matter of fact, on our first official workday, the principal introduced me to the rest of the staff. He said "We're very happy to have Mr. Cerek with us again this year. He is an excellent math teacher, a frequent bus driver and yells louder than ANYONE at a basketball game. You might not want to sit right next to him during the game, but you can always count on him to show his support for the team." :lol:

    I know I've mentioned going to the kids' games in many of my posts, but I really cannot emphasize enough just HOW much of an impact that had on the kids. As one of the other middle teachers said, each kid feels like I've come there JUST to see him or her and it means the world to them. It's a "safe" way to show extra support for the school without doing a lot of extra volunteering and other tasks. Of course, I did my share of that as well. I helped with our Fall Carnival, drove the bus on field trips, took LOTS of pictures of the kiddos at different events (many of which ended up in the annual) and usually stayed at least an hour after school was over each day.

    All these "little things" added up and, when an opening came up at the school, they called me instead of me calling them.
     
  13. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Aug 24, 2010

    Cerek, that post was brilliant!
     
  14. Navigator

    Navigator Rookie

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    Sep 1, 2010

    The previous posters have had so many great ideas and suggestions that there's not much left for me to say. :)

    If you truly care about your school and, especially, your students, you'll find yourself naturally doing the things that will make you most irreplaceable.

    You'll spend the extra time planning lessons your kids will find engaging and enlightening.
    You'll help out in extracurricular activities that suit your talents and interests .
    You'll make an effort to go to a play, a ballgame, or a concert so you can see your kids doing things they love.
    You'll contact parents because you see their child struggling, and you want so much to help them.
    You'll conduct yourself professionaly, and your administration will view you accordingly.
    You'll smile when you walk in the building each day, and everyone there--administrators, colleagues, staff, students, parents--will notice.

    Before long, you become an integral part of the school community, and nobody would THINK of replacing you.

    Good luck!
     
  15. miss_ali1984

    miss_ali1984 Companion

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    Sep 30, 2010

    That is one of the truest things I've ever seen. Not only do administrators not like it, they'll make it a point to rip you apart if you bring things to them. I had a child who is a notorious "disruptor" in my class and I tried to send him to the office the 2nd week of school upon my team lead's advice. The administrator came into my room and declared that until my classroom management was better, she wasn't taking any referrals from me. :-/ It was embarrassing, but a good learning experience.
     

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