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

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

  1. Teachings4Me

    Teachings4Me Companion

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    May 11, 2010

    I've loved reading everyone's ideas! New teachers are upon us! (ME INCLUDED!) Any tips? Any additional pieces of advice? A good friend and teacher told me, "Enjoy this summer, you'll never have another one like it." How can I prepare before I get into my school for classroom set up?
     
  2. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    May 11, 2010

    KNOW YOUR CONTENT!!!!!

    One of the fastest ways to lose the respect of a class full of kids is to have them realize that they know as much as you do.

    Know what they learned last year, and what they'll learn next year. Learn the bits of what they're learning that extend beyond the syllabus. Know little facets not in the textbook. Become an expert on your content, or as near as you can in the time between this minute and your first class.

    Cute games are wonderful. But never for a minute forget that you're there so the kids learn. And the moment they realize that all you know is what you've covering today, you're toast.
     
  3. MrsHoot

    MrsHoot Comrade

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    Jun 1, 2010

    Whew!!! 4 more days and I will be done with my very first year!!!! =) As for suggestions....

    a. TRY TRY TRY to stay on top of grading papers. I let things pile up and then it's REALLY hard to grade when you are overwhelmed!

    b. You do not always have to go in on the weekend for 6 hours. =) I did that for about the first half of the year, and then I stopped. I did more during break time, and we are required to be there 50 minutes before kids come. It is amazing how much time you have if you spend it wisely without chatting. =)

    c. Be CONSISTENT. This is an area that I know I need to work on. I did not always follow through with "threats" (we will lose recess, or whatever) and it definitely hurt me. I really need to get procedures down and establish an orderly and well managed classroom within the first week.

    d. Do not expect yourself to be perfect, because you won't be. And you shouldn't be!!!!! I LOVE my mentor and she would say it time and time again, you're being too hard on yourself. I've been doing this for 20 years.

    e. Over the summer, really familiarize yourself with standards/content and be thinking of ideas that you would like to try or that would fit. It gets stressful to think of ideas on the spot sometimes, whereas in the summer it's a bit more leisurely.

    f. Have a procedure for what kids can do when they finish something early. I didn't have one of these. (Not sure why?) Make sure they know what to do, otherwise they could be disruptive.

    I had a hard time with starting activities this year and then not finishing them because they were taking longer than I had anticipated. The kids noticed this, and this will be something I will work on for next year. Overall, I stayed afloat (just barely at times) and had a great year. I am actually switching from 5th grade down to first, so it's almost like my first year all over again! I am excited already though. =)
     
  4. gutterballjen

    gutterballjen Comrade

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    Jun 3, 2010

    I'm compiling all of these tips into my own idea notebook!

    I'm still in college but I've subbed in several different classrooms, and thought I would share some of the ideas I've decided to adopt as my own.

    Notes Home If possible, get two-ply carbonless paper for any written correspondence between you and your parents. Send the top copy with the student, and keep the second copy in that student's folder. That way you can document everything that's going on.

    Staying Quiet in the Hallway - If you teach younger grades, I'm sure you've heard of putting a bubble in your mouth. One of the teachers I subbed for had her students smile instead. I like this a whole lot better!

    Substitutes When making your sub plans, make sure to leave a note telling your sub how you get your class' attention. There have been many times when the teacher uses a different signal than the ones I know about. Knowing this helps immensely.

    Morning Meeting This is for Kinder/1st grade. The teacher had a book with a picture of every student in her class and their name written below. Then they sing a song and tell each student Good Morning. The book I used was bound with one of those comb things, but if you hole-punched the pages and put it into a binder or into binder rings it would be much easier to add/remove students.
     
  5. MissSkippyjonJones

    MissSkippyjonJones Comrade

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    Jun 3, 2010

    Make a point to not lock yourself away in your room all the time. Don't get involved in the gossip and drama that often takes place at work, but make sure your co-workers know you because you don't want the first time they "meet" you to be when you need a massive favor!
     
  6. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Jun 7, 2010

    Been reading through these posts again.... already coming up with some ideas for next year. :D

    So you're the one who I learned this from! It helped me save students a lot of time to the nurse-- and the nurse was happy to hear that I could prevent a few students from coming down to see her. Plus I think its a very loving gesture from a teacher-- at least my students always seemed sweet to me afterwards. :wub:
     
  7. ToTeachAChild

    ToTeachAChild New Member

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    Jul 4, 2010

    I so appreciate these tips! I'm also a new teacher, teaching summer school as my first assignment! I already can see that showing confidence (even if you don't feel it), and not letting them know they got to you are huge benefits! In this past week, I got very frustrated with the lack of attention and discipline in the room, and yes, they knew they got to me. I'm worried about moving forward, but thanks to this tip, I'll do it with my head held high, not taking it personally and definitely not letting them know if they get to me. Thanks again!
     
  8. howdyaggie12

    howdyaggie12 Rookie

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    Jul 4, 2010

    This is such a great thread! August will be here before I know it, and I'll take any tips I can get for my first year!!!
     
  9. ami6880

    ami6880 Companion

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    Jul 4, 2010

    Love this! :love:
     
  10. mrsburf

    mrsburf Rookie

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    Jul 8, 2010

    I am very glad I found this thread. I just signed mmy acceptance yesterday and I am already paniced. Luckily, I had a WONDERFUL cooperating teacher during my student teaching. She did many of the things on this board and she taught me many things that I hope I don't forget. I have my management down, I think, my procedures, and now all I need is my curriculum! Ha- that's all
     
  11. MzMooreTeaches

    MzMooreTeaches Cohort

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    Jul 8, 2010

    This thread has been EXTREMELY inciteful as well as increase my anxiety for the start of the year. I have been an assistant in a prek classroom for 2yrs. (I have my License in BK) but chose to be an assistant to gain more confidence as well as experience.

    I am now going to transition into a different setting. A prek/k combination class at a Montessori School. I can't begin to fathom the workload ahead of me, but I am thrilled, excited ready for a change... but also the anxiety has been building!!

    As well as learning the Kindergarten Curriculum I'm also going to get trained and eventually certified in Montessori Practice.

    I have turned the web upside down and inside out and started putting together a notebook/album of Montessori work as well as lessons. Found calenders, started on a substitute binder, started typing out songs and finger plays. My welcome letter to parents, started to think of how my behavior plan will work...ahhhh

    I go to sleep thinking about it and wake up thinking about it and nanny thinking about it, lol!

    I know i just need to breath and relax...
     
  12. ancientcivteach

    ancientcivteach Habitué

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    Jul 9, 2010

    I use a monthly/weekly calendar to do my lesson plans.

    At the beginning of the year I go through and mark in all the school holidays, grade due dates, standardized testing, field trips - anything that would affect my planning and I add to it as more dates are given to me.

    That way when I make my plans I can take those things into account.

    I don't remember where I read it, but someone said to not think of your desk as a place to store things/decorate, think of it as you "field of battle" that needs to be kept clear for the day's work. :) It may be because I'm a history teacher, but I just loved that image.
     
  13. angelfaces

    angelfaces Rookie

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    Aug 2, 2010

    I have found that wrapping paper is also a great bulletin board background and the dollar store has lots of different designs!
     
  14. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Aug 18, 2010

    Adding this tech tip in... :)
    I've been searching for a good grade book software or online site to use since I started teaching. I've used different programs/sites and either they were too basic, too hard to look at, or just did not make entering grades in easy at all. Plus some cost $50+ to buy and I have to find something free to use.

    I recently started playing around with a completely free grading site, called Engrade, and I think I might actually really like this one. It's completely free--- and I mean FREE--- no 40 days trial, its FREE and all the features are FREE (for teachers and students).

    Now I'm only using some features-- this is my private gradebook, but you can have your students register at the site to track their progress. (I don't really think a 3rd grader needs to get online and check his or her grades and worry over not getting an A on everything)

    Other features include attendance, calendar (good for tracking your lessons), comments (good for writing down behavior, group interactions, or parent contacts), class files (good for saving any articles or lesson papers you want to keep some place safe-- like in case your computer dies or you need to access the files on your school computer instead of your home computer), books, and even a new feature (still in beta) for a seating chart.

    The best part is that it is simple and easy to update anything. For example, putting in student names was quick: just copy and paste from my spreadsheet. The program will also put a personalized number for each student (if you want to have them register to see their grades-- they can also send you messages too through the site).

    So if you're looking for a grade book online to use, this is a good one: www.engrade.com
     
  15. Bruse100

    Bruse100 New Member

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    Sep 25, 2010

    THUISDFFF
     
  16. englishteach7

    englishteach7 Companion

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    Oct 14, 2010

    I'm a new teacher as well and I'm getting so many great ideas! I'm definitely going to start using the thumbs up/thumbs down in my classroom as well as the laminated poster board to keep my kids on track. I love the idea of the teacher's idea notebook! Please keep the ideas coming! They are great!
     
  17. englishteach7

    englishteach7 Companion

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    Nov 6, 2010

    I think I'm just going to print out all of these "new teacher tips" and put them in a binder to refer to. My goal is to make my first year go as smoothly as possible and to also learn as much as possible to be the best teacher I can be.
     
  18. FilipinaTeacher

    FilipinaTeacher Rookie

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    Jan 15, 2011

    Hi, I am a new teacher, and I wanted to first make a comment and ask you a question. I am in a title I school, teaching in the fourth grade. I have one students who is a little more mature about her age and is really sensitive due to her weight.
    The other day, she talked to another teacher, and she explained to that teacher she thinks, I am picking on her. But I made it clear that I wasn't when the students, the other teacher, and myself had a conversation. I made it known that I wasn't either angry or sad...just neutral. Continuing on, I talk to the student and give her many situations to explain how I am fair, and how I handle things. She felt better....but when the other teacher left, it disturbed me what she had said, she later comments that she thinks that because I have a fiancee, the problems I have with him, I reflect it on them. OK, first, I handled that pretty well, with reacted but honestly I do not know where she got this from, I do not confuse my personal life with the other teachers, as well as my parents or my students. If I am having a bad day, it is because of the students not because of my personal life.
    After sleeping on it, and reflecting, I wonder if this sensitive stems from her older sister. Her older sister and I are both in our early 20s and she is pregnant. I wonder if maybe her sister might be doing something, and the students is reflecting on it. I don't know.
    I didn't show her my disturb look on my face or the angry because this is too personal for a student of mine to even discuss to me. But I am thinking deeply into it.
     
  19. uncleal

    uncleal Rookie

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    Apr 11, 2011

    I have a wonderful tip. I laminated my poster board papers so now I can write on it using my dry-erase markers and then erase it and use it again and again. Saves the planet :)

     
  20. TXowl

    TXowl Companion

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    Jun 29, 2011

    - When you are given a paper to fill out, do it immediately and turn it in RIGHT THEN. Otherwise, you will forget or lose it. This will also prevent the frantic searching at the end of the day when something is due.

    - Set up for the following day before you leave. At the end of the day you are exhausted and want nothing more than to go home, but if you spend 10 minutes setting up for the next day your mornings will go much smoother. This also ensures that if you are running late/absent everything is ready for the kids.

    - Don't take things personally. Some students, parents, or coworkers may make your life miserable, but don't let it get to you. Just remember that there are always people who will find something to complain about, whether it was you or anyone else in your position, so it's not about you.

    - At the beginning of the grading period and at progress reports, go through and write the names of each assignment in your gradebook. This will change, but at least you will know that you have enough grades and don't come up short come for progress reports or report cards.

    - Stock up on supplies. During back to school sales stock up on pencils, paper, and folders. You will be amazed at how many kids come to school without supplies and how quickly pencils can disappear. Shop the sales, but don't buy the cheapies because you will regret it when every pencil breaks.

    - Don't be afraid to throw things away. I am a bit of a pack rat and find things that I could use for ____ all the time. If you aren't going to use it soon, get rid of it. Don't keep something just because you can.
     
  21. brians1024

    brians1024 Rookie

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    Aug 10, 2011

    My wife is just starting this year teaching 7th and 8th grade science.

    I told her she should have a few desks "reserved" as VHS seats. VHS stands for "Very helpful students".

    The students that volunteer themselves for these seats get to provide the other students with a review of the previous days lecture for the week. If they volunteer on days Wed. thru Fri., they will also be volunteers for the following week. If the student volunteers more than once in a month, they can be given a special assignment such as an oral report or a pop quiz.

    If there are more volunteers than places alloquoted, then a special project will be given to each.

    So how does the student volunteer themself? By being disruptive, talking when they shouldn't, not following class rules, etc. They would be given a warning before volunteering.
     
  22. anewstart101

    anewstart101 Cohort

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    Aug 10, 2011

    what I would got myself into I would not have!
     
  23. trulyunic

    trulyunic Rookie

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    Jul 26, 2012

    This tread stopped last year but I found some great tips...
     
  24. Cicero

    Cicero Companion

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    Nov 17, 2012

    I had to use the bee tip yesterday! We had our door open, because the heat for our room was working a little too well. Unfortunately this let in our little yellow and black friend. As soon as they yelled I went to work like a pro and announced with confidence my bee knowledge.

    One of my 6th graders was convinced there was a bee on his face and I approached as stealthily as possible.. to find nothing there. :lol: Good moments on a Friday.
     
  25. MsGteachingeng

    MsGteachingeng Rookie

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    Jan 18, 2013

    You are responsible for what happens in your classroom. You may receive some guidance occassionally. However, what you teach and how you to teach it is solely your responsibililty. So follow your intuition. Starting from day one do what feels right and productive and educational to you. Regardless of what you have heard in theory, follow your inner compass.
     
  26. Studentteacher8

    Studentteacher8 Rookie

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    Jan 19, 2013

    This is an incredibly useful thread- thanks for some really great tips and please do keep them coming! I have nothing to offer, I haven't even started student teaching!
     
  27. RickB

    RickB New Member

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    Apr 3, 2013

    Super useful thread! :)
     
  28. Croissant

    Croissant Comrade

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    Jun 11, 2013

    Alice, you saved my life with the tip about getting bees out of your room. I just finished my second year, and I have already successfully used this piece of advice three times! I literally told another teacher about two weeks ago, "Trust me. I learned this handy little trick from a teacher forum I visit all the time."

    :thumb:
     
  29. Croissant

    Croissant Comrade

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    Jun 11, 2013

    I just went back through this thread and realized that this is where a lot of the tips that helped me through my first year came from! I'm going into my third year now, and I'm excited to have my own advice to share! I hope I don't repeat too many;)

    - Keeping a sweater in the classroom is a must. I have a "school sweater" that lives on the back of my desk chair. I also keep a second pair of shoes at school because you just never know when the ones you're wearing will start rubbing wrong.

    - Don't expect that every class period will go the exact same way. Be ready to adapt and change lessons/activities for each class.

    - You will also probably have to adapt your management styles to each class period. I had a student from my worst class come to me during my best class to make up a test. The next day he said, "Ms. Croissant, you're lots nicer in 3rd period." Well, yes, because I can be!

    - Be careful about what you say to whom in your first year. It takes a long time to really decide who you can trust and who will contribute to the gossip mill. Stick to confiding in just one person until you can really feel everyone out.

    - The bee thing really works. It also works for wasps and dirt dobbers!

    - Teacher prep programs act like you should never sit down. Sometimes, you have to sit down, and that's ok! It's also ok to give yourself a day or two each grading period to take care of grading, planning, etc. while the students work on independent work. In the real world, you simply have to every once in a while.

    - Always have a set of extra worksheets ready. You never know when you'll get called to a meeting at the last minute.

    - Make friends with the custodians.

    - Prep for tomorrow's lesson before you leave today. Running around trying to get things set up while students file in is the worst!

    - Students work harder on projects when they know other people will see them in the hallway. Even in middle school.

    - Be consistent and honest. Don't make empty threats. I think that was the BIGGEST thing I learned in my first year.

    - Don't expect anyone to care that you're a first-year teacher. I don't mean that to sound negative, just realistic. Most people will be really helpful at the beginning of the year, but they can't hold your hand. A teacher is a teacher, and you'll be expected to do everything the any other teacher does. At the same time, don't be afraid to remind people once in a while and ask questions!
     
  30. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    Aug 12, 2013

    Mind your business. Stay out off office politics, all the gossip and so forth. Be careful who you moan and groan to; everyone is not your friend and some people are "spies" for Admin.

    I know this sounds like common sense, but it is so easy to get sucked into office drama.
     
  31. willow129

    willow129 Comrade

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    Aug 13, 2013

    Here are a couple things that I did that I think helped after a bit, they're more health related. Hopefully I'm not repeating anything:

    During lunchtime...EAT. EAT. EAT.
    also
    DRINK WATER.
    and...
    GET SLEEP. :)

    As soon as I had health insurance I went and got a full and really thorough physical. I think first year teachers should do this before the school year starts if they can because you get sick A. LOT. Anyways, so just make sure you're healthy before the school year starts because if there are any issues you don't want to be figuring them out in the middle of the school year.

    I was spending a lot of time after school and I realized that I had to stop because it was making me resentful. It took me a bit to realize this is ok. People talk about spending HOURS at school their first year, but that's not an expectation. Some people work that way and some don't. My advice: Be efficient and figure out how to get home to relax.

    I started exercising regularly this past year (my first year). Things can be really hard emotionally but exercise is good for stress. I got a Couch to 5K app on my ipod just to give myself a way to start running, looked up at home exercises you can do when it's snowing...got a bike. I think this was a good thing for me, it gave me motivation to get home because I enjoyed it and I think it leveled me out some.

    I'm looking forward to doing some yoga classes this year :) And I joined a dance team which starts in September!!!! SO pumped. For myself - I found it helpful to schedule things I HAVE to be at very soon after the school day ends to make me be efficient and scoot out the door.
     
  32. GeetGeet

    GeetGeet Companion

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    Oct 9, 2013

    THIS. And, do get a flu shot.
     
  33. leily

    leily Rookie

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    Mar 5, 2014

    I'll be starting work in early April and this means I'm joining them mid-year. Any tips on how to get the kids to listen to me? I am not one of those teachers who are gentle and soft spoken but I don't want them to be terrified of me.
     
  34. Allan horian

    Allan horian New Member

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    Apr 1, 2014

    Your confidence is everything leily.. you can rule their minds with your knowledge and effective teaching strategies. don't show yourself like a monster but a comfortable teacher who always helpkidsread and encourage intellectual questions. i am a new teacher as well. i have been struggling with some issues but now i have learnt to handle students.
     
  35. Cme10

    Cme10 Rookie

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    Apr 2, 2014

    Almost at the end of the first year..

    Okay, so we are coming to a close (two months away) of my first year, I have some tips/feedback on tips I received!
    *Sweater in room = Necessary. Our thermostats are controlled by the district, and even though I have Eskimo blood there have been times where even I was shivering.
    *Bee tip....WISH I had read that earlier. We have had three plus incidents already and it’s not even hot here yet!
    *Extra pair of shoes = Wonderful. High heels are nice and look spiffy but when I have to jog across half the school to sign in/check mail/ catch a student on the move some sneakers are a gift from above.

    *Do not ever put anything on your desk that is breakable. I teach high school English (mostly freshmen) and they touch everything…and drop everything.
    *Being organized is key = Have a place for everything. Have a folder/container for work that needs to be handed in/graded, one for work to be passed back and I even have ones for work we are currently working on so they won’t lose it. They are organized on two bookshelf cases with class sticky notes on them. I also have older milk crates that house student folders…(Because if they have to hang on to them they will lose them/forget them/exc)
    *Students eat pencils/pens/paper = Seriously, have a supply. I work in a more poverty stricken area and I cannot tell you how much paper/supplies I have had to buy because students just don’t have it, and if they don’t have it that will turn into an excuse to not do their work.
    *Speaking of shopping, keep all receipts of things you buy for school stuff because you can write off a substantial amount on your taxes.
    *Dollar Tree = A teacher’s best friend.
    *If you start late in the year, like I did, stay late if you want for the first week or two to decorate or organize but after that leave no later than an hour after the students. It’s for YOUR mental and emotional health to separate yourself from work.
    *Find the people your personality works with and use them as a springboard for ideas and lesson plans.
    *Speaking of planning, try to plan at least one week in advance. You never know when you’ll catch the latest virus and end up at home.
    *Try to find a substitute that has already been in the system or taught for any length of time and put their number on speed dial. I went through three substitutes before I finally found one I could TRUST to watch my classes.
    * Try to put up something that students can strive for = Example: I have “The Wall of Awesomeness” it is two pieces of laminated posterboard surrounded by leopard print duct tape. When a student does something awesome, they can sign the wall of awesomeness. It gives them something to strive for, and ALL students want everyone to see them and know who they are.
    *Student work is one of the best decorations and your students won’t let you forget how happy they are to see it.
    *Be prepared to decorate with the seasons = As soon as the first warm day hit my students were offering to take down my winter decorations and be more “springy”.
    *Also be prepared to repeat directions and things to parents just as much as you do to students. Also prepare yourself for the parents who will see YOU as the problem. YOU should fix their child’s grades, YOU treated them wrong, YOU YOU YOU. Take this with a grain of salt and simply repeat what you called to say and keep a log. ALWAYS CYB.
    *Speaking of records, always keep detailed notes about parent conferences and phone calls. A lot of times when an angry parent wants to meet with administration, admin will look at you and ask, “Did you call this parent to conference grade/problem/exc”, when you provide detailed records of date, time, names, and content you know you did the right thing. It shows you are responsible and professional and your admin is more likely to back you up (if they are a good one)
    *Never take anything a student says personally. Teaching high schoolers I actually made the mistake of doing this the last two months of the semester. Now I simply realize that hormones are hormones and the next day they can and usually are different. Students can be loving one minute and hateful and cruel the next. Do you best to deal with it impersonally but never tolerate outright disrespect.
    *Starting late I realized very quickly I couldn’t entirely trust my students. I learned second semester to print up RR passes. Each student gets four per nine weeks. They cannot trade/sell/give them away. If they have any passes at the end of the 9 weeks its extra credit. This cuts down on the “Can I go to the RR” in class. This way they just sign time out and in, and toss it upon their return. All streamlined and quiet.

    I am sure there are more but these are the ones that came to mind.
     
  36. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Apr 2, 2014

    Thanks for the great post, Cme! I am teaching high school for the first time this year and am surprised about how many things I thought were middle school issues that have come up, especially finding a good way to deal with the constant bathroom requests. I like your idea and am going to save it for next year, or maybe even start with the last marking period...
     
  37. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Apr 2, 2014

    Be sure to feel out your school and admin before adopting a bathroom policy like that, though. Some schools (including mine) don't want students going to the bathroom at all during class except in the case of severe emergencies, and we'd get in big trouble if we gave every student four passes per semester. For just my class alone, that's potentially 800 students in the hallway over the course of the semester! If every teacher gave out four passes per semester, we'd have over 10,000 students in the halls every semester. That's just a nightmare as far as potential behavior issues.

    Another issue to consider is that it might not be entirely fair to essentially tie bathroom use to grades. I mean, the poor kid with a smaller than normal bladder has to miss out on extra credit because of a physiological condition that he has zero control over? I also bet that the girls are going to have to use those passes a lot more than the boys will. There is definitely some inherent unfairness there. Just something to consider.
     
  38. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Apr 3, 2014

    Thanks, Caesar, for pointing that out -- it's true that I am hesitant to have a blanket policy since I know there are special exceptions that do come up. But I do feel like I need a stronger policy since I have some students who I can tell are just using this as a way to get out of class or disrupt class. What is your bathroom policy? I feel like we may have had this discussion before but I obviously haven't come up with a brilliant solution yet!
     
  39. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Apr 3, 2014

    I just follow my school's bathroom policy: no passes except in case of emergency. If a kid says it's an emergency, I let them go, even if I don't think it's really an emergency. I'm not going to fight that battle because I will lose. If a kid starts abusing the privilege of using the bathroom, then I will talk to his parents and limit passes, even in case of "emergency".
     
  40. vivalavida

    vivalavida Companion

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    Jun 20, 2014

    Just bumping this as I prepare for my first year! Please share any and all tips you have. A couple things I've been wondering about...(particularly for high school):

    - What is the best way you have organized all your teacher files? I would like to set this up as much as possible before the start of the year.
    - What procedures do you suggest spending time teaching and practicing, especially ones that might not seem as obvious?
    - What is your system for keeping absent students up to date - missing handouts, the agenda from that day, etc. I would love to have a system that works without me holding their hand!

    Thank you!
     

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