If I had only known... [New Teacher Tips]

Discussion in 'New Teachers' started by BioAngel, May 7, 2009.

  1. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    May 7, 2009

    Hello New Teachers! Congrats on making it (almost) through your first year--- I'm incredibly happy about that, but I find that what I'm going to have to do over the summer to prep for the new year rather daunting at times. :blush:

    To help the new teachers coming in next year to this wonderful forum and to remind ourselves after summer is done, maybe we could start a list of tips! What did you find out about teaching this year that you wish you had known in September? What do you hope to remember to change or do for this up coming school year?

    My school only has 18 more school days, but I'm going to use some of the time thinking about what I need to change and improve on. :thumb:
     
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  3. hopefulnovice

    hopefulnovice Rookie

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    Confidence. Even if you don't think you know, look like you do. I learned it the hard way, and it's amazing how discipline improves when kids perceive you as credible and knowledgeable in your subject matter.
     
  4. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Don't let students get to you. What they do is entirely their choice. Don't take it personally when they act like jerks or don't do their homework or are late to class.

    If they do get to you, never let them know. Students are so often just looking for reactions from their teachers, and you don't need to be the teacher who gives that to them.
     
  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Stay on top of your paperwork, especially grading. Don't wait until the last minute before entering grades or progress report comments. Don't wait until the last minute to put in requests for copies. Don't wait until the last minute to prepare your exams.

    There's always the possibility that something will go wrong, including a technology malfunction or a sudden illness. If you are prepared ahead of time, those sorts of problems won't have any real impact.
     
  6. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Evidently I'm going to be posting these comments one at a time. :lol:

    Go into each class period with more stuff than you think you'll need. It takes a while for new teachers to get into the groove of figuring out how long each lesson or lesson component will take. If you are over-prepared, you don't have to worry. If you're under-prepared, you have to scramble to fill the empty space, or else that space becomes wasted instructional time.
     
  7. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    That's fine--- it might actually be good to have a separate post for each idea actually :)

    Great ideas so far--- I'll add in my novel soon ^_^
     
  8. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Be flexible.
    The unhappiest teachers (job wise) at my school are the ones that have rigid routines. I am NOT saying do NOT have a routine (students benefit from routine) but things come up all the time ... be flexible, work around it, roll with the punches.
     
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  9. janney

    janney Cohort

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    I learned not to put names on anything the first couple weeks of class. My school does so much moving around and so many students start late that I was scrambling everyday to change and add names to everything. (Kinder)
     
  10. janney

    janney Cohort

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    MANAGEMENT starts on day one; don't let them slack because it's the first day. If they don't do it right the first time, have them do it again.
     
  11. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    To get a bee out of your room: Turn off all the lights and open all the windows. They like light.

    Keep bandaids in your drawer. Not every paper cut warrants a trip to the nurse.

    If your school is anything like mine, keep a neutral colored sweater in your room. Every once in a while it's a life saver.
     
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  12. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    May 7, 2009

    :lol: Alice!

    I've been thinking about this thread all day (I saw it this morning.) I could easily write a book at this point. There is so much I could say!!

    The ones that really stand out:
    • be prepapred for the paperwork. Mounds of it. Piles everywhere. Coming out of your ears. I still can't keep up with it :( I lose stuff all the time. It's so annoying!
    • Be FIRM on day one 100% of the time. While I don't plan to be mean next year, I will take is as a compliment if the kids are a little nervous around me for the first few weeks.
    • be consistent. This is much harder than it sounds. I struggle with this a lot.
    • Call ALL the parents in the first week and introduce yourself. You will need them on your side at one point or another.
    • Have a rewards system in place. Use it.
    • Set high expectations. I will admit now that I wasn't firm enough with my expectations in Sept and now my kids are lazy sometimes.
    • Be prepared to ahve your plans thrown out the window. Stuff happens.
    • Limit the amount of cookies and donuts your kids can eat in one sitting when you have holiday parties. :)
    • Do your best to forgive and forget
    • Relish the times your kids make you laugh. Some kids will more often make you want to cry :lol:
    • Learn to repeat yourself. Learn to repeat yourself. Learn to repeat yourself. Learn to repeat yourself. Learn to repeat yourself. Learn to repeat yourself. Learn to repeat yourself.
    • Have procedures for anything and everything you can think of.
    • SHOW them Exactly what you want.
    • Never assume they know ____.
    • Have one (or more!!) good teachers you can go to to cry.
    • Speaking of crying, the staff bathrooms with the lights off is a great place to melt and regroup. :lol:
    • Be prepared to defend your grades to parents.
    • Never call a parent when you're mad. I have never done this, but I can only imagine...
    • Stock up on folders, pencils, paper, etc over the summer. I can't believe how many kids don't have these things.

    I am ready to be done with my first year teaching. In many ways, it's been worse than I imagined. However, I consider this a great "initiation."

    One thing I never expected - I feel 100% ready to start over. I'm dying to try things over another way. I really thought that by the end of my first year I'd be burnt, but I'm more excited to start over.
     
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  13. PinkFish

    PinkFish Rookie

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    The first 4 months of school will be harder than you ever imagined!! You will cry and want to quit, but hold on because it does indeed get better! Find other teachers in your school that can help you (even if they are not your school mentor) and ask for help if you need it!!
     
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  14. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    :lol: Alice and Pisces!
     
  15. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    Pisces - those suggestions are great for first year teachers and very old veterans :) Thanks
     
  16. KLSSwimmer

    KLSSwimmer Habitué

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    I am definitely going to post more later, but one of the first things that pop into my head is have a system of filing. Specifically, what are you going to do with the paper that comes across your desk every day? I have a file system behind my desk that every paper that is on my desk goes into. Some things go into the "to be graded file," while others go into the "do immediately" file.
     
  17. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    May 8, 2009

    For high school, make up a heading and save it as a word document. Start there for every test you type. Include Period and Row-- it will make handing back tests so much easier!!!

    Write failing grades in your gradebook in red. It will make it so much easier at reportcard time to check to see who should and who should not have failed. If a failing kid doesn't have a lot of red, it's time to double check.
     
  18. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Oh this is going to be a great thread :D

    1. Get a color coding system. I have 4 sections of science and I have color coded grading folders, homework bins, and filing cabinets with the colors--- red, blue, green, and orange. If you keep your paper work for that ONE section (or subject) and color, you'll be more likely to stay organized and start your lesson right away instead of looking around for papers.

    2. Poster paper totally rocks--- its something my supervisor told me about and I've been using it for a few weeks now. I have their notes blastered around my classroom and they can quickly refer back to them instead of searching through their notebooks. Any notes that will be used for a few weeks should be up some where in the classroom.

    3. Keep a binder of all the hand outs you give. When someone is absent assign them a buddy, have that student and the buddy go to the binder, and have the buddy help the student pick out which papers they missed. I started this mid-year, but now I just have to point and they know what I mean.

    4. Put in the time to get yourself organized. I spent a good 3 weeks cleaning up my classroom that I inherited from a wonderful teacher who has EVERYTHING a teacher could dream of. But I'm a person that has a place for everything and needs stuff labeled. I will still need a few more weeks in the summer to clean up the rest of the classroom and move things around to my liking and label more stuff, but 1. it helps you to get to know your classroom, 2. it becomes YOUR space, 3. I feel alot less stressed when the classroom is clean and organized and I'm sure the students do too.
     
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  19. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    May 8, 2009

    .
     
  20. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    I thought of another tip. I have 3 files for each student 1) a file for work that needs to go home to be signed 2) a file for work that's already been signed and needs to go into their cum folder and 3) a file for everything else (tardy notes, discipline papers, signed reprt cards, etc.)

    Also, give kids lots of jobs. The mundane stuff we can't stand the kids love. It still amazes me how much they love to cut laminate, clean floors, put chairs on tables, etc.)
     
  21. Windy City

    Windy City Companion

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    One word that has been said over and over: Procedures!!!!!! :woot:

    You need to have a procedure for every single step that students take in your room. I am a "specials" teacher in an elementary school, and I was completely unprepared to have my own procedures because during observations/student teaching, the procedures were already in place and it all seemed natural.

    You will need procedures for the following things (plus a million more) and more important, you will need to PRACTICE the procedures over and over again for the first month.
    -Going to the bathroom
    -Going to the nurse
    -Sharpening pencils
    -Getting tissues
    -Getting blank paper
    -Gathering materials for the lesson
    -Putting materials away
    -Getting coats
    -Packing up at the end of the day
    -Lining up
    -Walking in the hallway
    -Passing out papers
    -Collecting papers
    -Classroom library
    -Using classroom computers
    -Throwing things away
    -Recycling things

    The list goes on and on. It seems like every day I find more things that make me say, "Oh, I have to teach them what to do in this situation." and I end up making it up on the fly, then I'm not consistent. I'm going to write everything down for next year so that I am better prepared. No procedures=chaos and confusion
     
  22. ancientcivteach

    ancientcivteach Habitué

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    BioAngel - could you talk some more about this, maybe give an example?? Thanks!
     
  23. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    May 9, 2009

    Wallpaper makes great background paper for bulletin boards. You can frequently find remnants for an incredible price. It doesn't tear and it doesn't fade.
     
  24. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    The brightly coloured plastic tablecloths from the dollar store make another inexpensive (okay, dirt cheap) background for bulletin boards. They are easy to work with and don't fade.
     
  25. Penguin2

    Penguin2 Rookie

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    I just graduated and got an offer. As a 1st year teacher, I would REALLY appreciate anybody who has any adice to offer! Please! Thanks!
     
  26. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    I'm a little confused, can you explain this a different way?

    I noticed that my students were having difficulties with writing down all the notes and that we'd waste a lot of time looking through our science notebooks to look up information to answer a question.

    Now I decided to solve those 2 problems by using poster paper (the big sheets of paper you can buy with either lines on them or graph paper style). I write down the focus question of the lesson and either I or another student who I know has good hand writing, writes down any important notes (which are determined by the students not me). We also use it for graphs, we might do a sketch of something (instead of using a written format), etc. I then post this up around the classroom--- either on the little bulletin boards I have around my whiteboard or some place else. Students can then refer back to these class notes if they're having difficulty.

    The only down side is that you use a lot of paper and with 4 sections I do these notes 4 times over--- sometimes I have to rewrite certain notes that incorporates all 4 sections and their ideas. Otherwise I pick which section has the most useful notes and post that one up.
     
  27. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    May 10, 2009

    That's a great idea!! I have limited color choices, so that'll be a great alternative. :cool:
     
  28. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    May 10, 2009

    I'm going to take some pics of my classroom to show you all what I mean ;)
     
  29. nattles19

    nattles19 Comrade

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    May 14, 2009

    I'm well into my teaching career but this is the first year I have started a notebook to keep all the ideas I have for next year - you know, little things like "Have students skip lines on rough drafts" or "Always have students use crayons on graphs". The things you start reflecting on at this time of year!

    I get so many good ideas to improve my classroom but by the time summer rolls around, sure enough I can't remember most of them! Next year will be different. :p
     
  30. Sunny Teacher

    Sunny Teacher Rookie

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    All of this advice is amazing! I'll be a first year teacher next year. Keep it comin'! :)
     
  31. krysmorgsu

    krysmorgsu Cohort

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    May 15, 2009

    A few things I've learned:
    1. Try to prepare as much as possible before the school year starts. Develop your filing system, organize your room, etc. BEFORE school starts. Once the year starts, you're lucky if you can just manage to keep everything organized - I can't imagine trying to set it up too during the year!
    2. Yes, students can frustrate you. Yes, they can make you angry. But be prepared to get even more frustrated and annoyed at school policies, administrators (especially the types who tell you they have your back and then still brush it off when you have a problem or just "warn" the student), students being pulled from your class for trips or events with no notice, etc. The list can go on. The general idea is that education classes don't prepare you for high school politics.
    3. Procedures! Have them and enforce them. I tried an absent work policy, and kind of let it fall through the cracks. Its too late to fix it this year, but I know I've got to have something better next year.
    4. Extra copies -- have plenty. If I have 50 students to give a handout to, I make at least 65 copies, if its something for notes. Some will lose it, others will forget it at home when they need it, etc. And trust me, you will have at least 1 or 2 students whom no matter what you do will always lose it. I swear they eat up more extra copies then all my other students combined. Hand in hand with this, I'd also suggest spending at least a day at the beginning going over exactly how you want everything organized with them - hole-punch immediately and put it in the binder, separate sections, etc.
    5. Grade things as quickly as possible. At certain points, you will get backed up, and its hard to sit and grade when you have a huge stack.
    6. Be Prepared to have NO life the first year. There's so much to do, so much to grade and prep, that the first year will be somewhat of a blur.

    My own life-saver: last year target sold a filing bag for hanging file folders. It holds my gradebook, portfolio book (things we're doing now, admin notes, extra paper, etc.), plus a bunch of file folders - one for each class, miscellaneous, to be graded, to be filed, and can hold my pen case, daily planner, and mini-calculator (a necessity). It cost about $30.00, but has saved my life, since its so much more organized than any normal bag. It's a great investment.
     
  32. Windy City

    Windy City Companion

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    May 15, 2009

    Another thing that I wish I had known was that you really do need to check for understanding about a billion times a day. At first I was all over the place in how I did it. I finally heard about the thumbs up/down system where the students do a thumbs up/thumbs down on the shoulder. That means that the students would show me a thumbs up/down on the shoulder opposite of the hand they were holding up. That way, nobody else could see how everyone else was "voting" and it would be more confidential than having them raise their hands in front of everybody. I found that I got a much clearer response when they did the shoulder thing. I now have an interactive whiteboard. We use the voting tool, which has completely changed everything. :)

    I also wish I had known that there was a closet full of office supplies for teachers in the office! I was constantly buying the little things like Post-it notes, paper clips, staples, etc... when I had my own little mini-store downstairs!

    I also wished that I had used more organizers and rubrics for projects. I found that it was more helpful for students to know exactly where they were on a project and what their expectations were if they had those tools. It is a ton of work to set up in the beginning, but it makes the project go so much easier!
     
  33. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    An example of how I use poster paper for notes and then hang them up around the class...

    [​IMG]
     
  34. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    May 16, 2009

    As a math teacher, my most important secret weapon is a question:

    "Is anyone so confused that you don't even know what to ask???"

    Then don't listen, LOOK. Look at the quiet kids, the ones who fall into the B range. If one of them nods his or her head, you know you have to stop, and re-do the process in the tiniest increments you can find.
     
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  35. lemonhead

    lemonhead Aficionado

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    Filing- I teach first. We have experienced teachers who plan Math, Science, Writing. Copies of needed worksheets are made for us for each student. What I do is have my paper passers pass out papers. They give me the extras. I then put them (1 or 2) in a file folder at my desk that is labeled for that topic and that subject immediately. At the end of the week (or end of that subject) I take the whole folder and put it in the file cabinet along with any samples I had to make that week. I don't know if this is how everyone does it, but I was having a lot of trouble in the beginning of the year and now need to have a filing party to file first and second quarter.
     
  36. lemonhead

    lemonhead Aficionado

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    Expectations: make sure you set good expectations on the quality of work, cleanliness of your room, transitions, coming to "the carpet" etc. Procedures are very important but expectations are equally important. An example would be that they must use 6 different colors while coloring, not interrupting guided reading, neatly stacking papers in the paper tray instead of cramming them in there.

    At the end of the year they get tend to get messy, distructive, and very antsy.
     
  37. lemonhead

    lemonhead Aficionado

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    Citizenship-take time to teach this. They need to work together as a team and trust and support each other. Taking time to talk about this helps to build your classroom community. It's hard to fit it in but it is important.
     
  38. lemonhead

    lemonhead Aficionado

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    Stress the importance of school- Tell them stories of when you were in school. When you talk about famous people, talk about their education. Another, thing I did with my kids is brought in work samples of what my youngest son did when he was in first grade-since we do many of the same things. He is in 4th now and they all know him. They love to see his work as a first grader and like me to bring in 4 th grade projects to share.

    Talk about the future years of school and flatter them when they are working above grade level. "Guys this is really 3rd grade stuff but you are sailing through it!"
     
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  39. lemonhead

    lemonhead Aficionado

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    May 16, 2009

    Don't bite off more than you can chew- Pick one thing to do really, really well instruction wise your first year. Mine was writer's workshop. Next year I am the science lead and will also go gung ho at reader's workshop.
     
  40. ancientcivteach

    ancientcivteach Habitué

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    May 16, 2009

    If you are a computer person, scan everything. And buy resource books as pdf files if you can.

    I'm starting over in a new content area, and that's what I plan to do. The sheer volume of paper resources is sometimes overwhelming, and I can't tell you the number of times over the years I've found something weeks (or months) after it would have been really useful.
     
  41. nattles19

    nattles19 Comrade

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    May 16, 2009

    After you have given students instructions for an assignment and send them off to get busy, pause for a moment. Take half a minute to just stand there calmly observing them, ensuring they get on task. Too often we give a direction then rush off to do something, assist a student, whatever. I tell my students to ask questions before they get started because I won't answer questions for the first few minutes of work time. It helps them get settled into the assignment right away.
     

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