New 7th grade teacher starting to stress!!!

Discussion in 'Middle School / Junior High' started by lollicatt, Jun 28, 2013.

  1. lollicatt

    lollicatt Rookie

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    Jun 28, 2013

    Hello All! I have accepted a position to be a 7th grade ELA teacher at a very small district. It's where my husband and I want to be to start a family so I'm very happy that I was able to secure this position above all others. Now that I've got the job, I am really starting to stress about what to do next. I have been in Corporate America since 2006 but went through an ACP program back in 2009, so it's been a while since the program training (plus I feel it was mediocre, at best). I feel like I need to start preparing now even though it's July. I've got some ideas for classroom management, lesson plans, and activities but I feel like I don't know where to start. Some of my questions are:

    How do I know what decor is appropriate for 7th grade?
    Can I obtain resources now so I can start planning my first few weeks?
    OR should I wait for inservice to start planning?
    How should I arrange my classroom?
    What type of supplies will I be responsible for?

    I know I have more questions but I'm drawing a blank. Any other tips or strategies offered would be greatly appreciated!!

    :dizzy:
     
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  3. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    Jun 28, 2013

    Decor doesn't really matter but it helped me stop buying so much when I narrowed my theme and only bought stuff that matched it.

    Call the Principal and go pick up the Teacher's Editions of your textbook.

    When you pick the books up, ask to see the classroom and snap a few photos.

    Technically you are not required to buy supplies but you will want certain things. You can ask if they already order stuff for you next year or if you are supposed to select stuff for them to order. On a personal front, you can buy many things like glue, crayons, etc. if you want during back to school sales.
     
  4. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Jun 29, 2013

    7th grade doesn't need the full-on themed classroom you see in elementary school. Pick a color or theme for your bulletin boards and maybe a couple little decorations. My room's theme is tropical - the only thing I have besides my bulletin boards are some Japanese lantern string lights for across my board.

    Go to school and pick up your teacher's edition.

    Search the district website to see if there is a curriculum map online. If not, see if it's possible to get in contact with your department head.

    For middle school, I always start off the year in traditional rows for the classroom and then merge into grouped desks. They are highly social, so I like to start off with physically restrictive environment (that sounds a lot worse than what I actually do! I'm just trying to make it hard for them to talk to each other!) until they understand the procedures for proper talk time.

    Buy lots of pens and pencils at the back to school sale. Ask your school secretary or P if there is a supply budget or supply closet.

    Start working on classroom procedures and expectations.
     
  5. muinteoir

    muinteoir Companion

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    Jun 29, 2013

    Decorate to suit you, you spend the most time in the room.

    The current ELAR TEKS were implemented in 2009-2010. If you didn't use them as part of your ACP, become very familiar with them. Especially Figure 19.

    Will you be responsible for reading and writing? Or just one or the other? Check out the STAAR info on the test(s) your students will take.

    You can find all Iof this on the TEA website.

    Will you have another teacher to plan with? If so contact him or her. That person will be your best source of info for all of your questions.

    If you don't have a buddy, find out what you do have. If there is no real curriculum in place, start checking the webpages of larger districts for theirs.
    The ELAR standards and tests are the complex of all.

    Your region ESC might be able to help too.

    As soon as you have some kind of scope and sequence and you know you have in the way of resources, you can start planning.

    In the meantime, start developing a set of procedures. Have a procedure for everything. Procedures are more important than rules.

    Seriously, I wish I had known the power of procedures when I started teaching. I can send you mine for ideas if you want.
     
  6. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    Jun 29, 2013

    1. For decor, I stick to bright colors and simple prints. Polka dots, stripes, etc. Middle schoolers need to know that you're a "real" person, and they love asking about your hobbies and life outside of the classroom...so it's always nice to add some personal touches to the room like family photos on your desk or a pennant from your university on the wall.

    2. Ask your curriculum director or principal what resources are available to you. Each district handles things differently. Some operate from a textbook, some do units based around novels, etc. See if someone at the school can put you in contact with other ELA teachers at your school so you can get an idea of how things work.

    3. I would not wait until inservice to start planning.

    4. I start the year in rows and then change the arrangement of the desks a couple of times a year. I make sure my desk is in a corner and that when I'm sitting at it I'm facing the door. I like to have a table dedicated to "student supplies" with scissors, glue, extra pencils, sticky notes, etc. Middle schoolers like to be independent, so I give them the freedom to pick up what they need when they need it.

    5. Any supplies questions should be directed to your principal. When I first started at my school, I got a "starter kit" with a stapler, tape dispenser, adult scissors, etc. Nothing for the students. Some stuff was left over from the previous teacher, but not a lot. I bought many of the student supplies and teaching items I needed. However, it never hurts to ask your principal how to go about formulating a purchase order for things you want.
     
  7. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

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    Jun 29, 2013

    I use decorations that reflect me, kids want to know their teachers. I don't do little Dr. Seuss things or anything, but will do cute little monkeys or stuff like that. I'm a girly, girl and I like cute things--and my classroom reflects that.

    If I were you, I'd buy stuff YOU like and reflects YOU. I guarantee you your kids want to see what you are like as a person, they like seeing pictures of family, your interests, etc. and seeing a room with décor that reflects you in addition to what they are learning.

    So use borders and bulletin board minis that show off your personality and ELA posters for the walls. Then around your desk, showcase your interests, passions, and things that matter to you.
     
  8. Listlady

    Listlady Companion

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    Jun 29, 2013

    Looks like you've gotten some great advice. I'm on my second year, and last summer I was so excited about buying posters and such, and figuring out what to do with my room.

    Something I'm thinking about starting with this year is a poster project for the students: it will get them working together from the beginning AND it will help to decorate the room. I haven't decided yet what the topics will be, but for English classes, they could do parts of speech, literary terms, punctuation rules, writing tips, types of poetry, etc., etc. I'll make sure to give them detailed instructions with a rubric that I'll use, include a presentation component, supply them the materials, and make sure I monitor their progress along the way.

    Last year, I also left one of my bulletin boards blank (except for paper and border and one small inspirational poster in the middle). On one of the first days of school, I had students write a journal entry about their goals for the semester, and then each student had to write one of their goals on the bulletin board and sign his or her name. Students really enjoyed looking at each other's goals, and at the end of the semester, it was great for them to reflect, etc.
     
  9. muinteoir

    muinteoir Companion

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    Jun 30, 2013

    This is a great idea. :)
     
  10. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Jun 30, 2013

    I would start by seeing what is already in place. I know we have all of our year mapped out, so out learning targets, quizzes, and tests are already finished.

    Here is a slide show of my 7th ELA room last year.

    I could email you our curriculum map if you just want an idea of our yearly setup. We are using common core.
     
  11. Maryhf

    Maryhf Connoisseur

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    Jun 30, 2013

    Love your room Ima! I agree that you want your room to reflect your subject area. Some districts won't even let you be "personal" or even use wall space for those fun motivational posters. I have items from Space Camp (even though I no longer teach science) and a variety of personal momentos from plays I directed at school. I have 4 small bulletin boards - 1 for general school announcements, 1 for folders for each period, 1 for my word wall/essential questions, and 1 that varies. I keep materials and research materials out and available for students so they can be independent.
     
  12. lollicatt

    lollicatt Rookie

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    Jul 14, 2013



    I am just writing. I've been working on procedures and I picked up the teacher resources yesterday. Should I start planning lessons or wait until inservice? Right now I'm just gathering ideas.
     
  13. paperheart

    paperheart Groupie

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    Gathering ideas is a good start. I would plan as much as you can. Inservice may or may not go over anything relative to your lesson planning. I would let the P know you are going to plan some lessons this summer and ask him/her if there are any school-wide or departmental focusses (I.e a certain instructional technique) that you should also be aware of before you begin. As soon as your are able, have some conversations with colleagues. Some colleagues will be extremely helpful; others not at all, but seek out connections with them as soon as you can.

    Solidify procedures and rules. Make a handout for the first day of school.

    Plan your first day with a lot of detail. Will students have assigned seats? How will they know which seat is theirs? When will they learn which seat is theirs? What will you say first? How will you go over your rules? What information do you need from students? If a student comes with no supplies how will you react to set your expectations? Thinking through the day in specifics will help you determine what kind of teacher you aim to be and how you will communicate that.

    You won't plan perfectly, but planning will give you confidence and will make things go more smoothly than planning at the last minute.
     
  14. Maryhf

    Maryhf Connoisseur

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    Jul 15, 2013

    paperheart is right on so many levels.
    Also, I'm not sure if this happens at other schools (I suspect it does), but everyone will want to welcome you during inservice. They will come and say hello (and much more) and you will get nothing in the way of planning done. Get as much done as possible - and then ask each person one of the questions that has come up for you.
     
  15. Ms.History

    Ms.History Rookie

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    Jul 16, 2013

    Muinteoir - I would love to see your procedures if you don't mind! Also, thank you for the suggestion to check the TEKS and the STAAR test; that helped me as well! :)
     
  16. Ms_C

    Ms_C Comrade

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    Jul 16, 2013

    The biggest thing for 7th grade ELA in Texas is to remember that your kids will take 2 STAAR tests. They are required to take Reading and Writing. The grading rubrics are available through the TEA for writing and that is what I used with my kids all year long when it came to scoring their writing. We went over it and talked about what each thing meant and how it would look. I wanted them to be used to the way they would be graded in the end.
     
  17. Milsey

    Milsey Habitué

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    Jul 18, 2013

    I would get a class mascot; it could be a stuffed toy such as a cat. The students get to name it. I told the children the cat was watching them and that it prowled the halls at night. One girl made a red cloak for it - so cute! And it had its own bowl. :love:
     
  18. nyteacher29

    nyteacher29 Comrade

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    Jul 20, 2013

    This is my second year in 7th and i absolutely LOVE IT. Start planning now.. Google your state standards. Create a rules and responsibility sheet for the first day. Go over rules and expectations constantly over first few days. I do an ice breaker (student bingo) and then a fun lesson on why to study Ss. Most of my students don't know each other so the ice breaker really works well. As for supplies, assume you have nothing but do not go overboard. I buy golf pencils from staples and will occasionally buy lose leaf paper but on the first day I hand out a supply list. As for teacher supplies, again assume nothing. W are given a pen and that's basically it. Shop smart though. Dollar store and staples dollar items will be your new best friend

    As for management What I found has worked has been reward tickets (order them special on line so the kids can't buy them at staples) . They earn them for various reasons.. If only half of the class hand in assignment they will get one, starting do now, extra credit, above and beyond, etc. once they get a certain amount they can go into the prize box wchic only consists of educational things such as mini pads, pencils, erasers, funny pens, (dollar store or staples dollar stuff) I didn't know how well this would go and if it would be too "babyish" but the kids last year LOVED it,

    they also respond very well to being fair. I'm strict but not mean. I make sure (at least I try!) to be fair , big difference from being "equal". Also, do smile. Have fun with them but be sure to explain that there is a time and place for things and when we need to get "serious". And do not ever talk over them. I keep my regular voice and simply say, "I will not be talking over you so if you miss information that is on you". Good luck and have fun! They are a great age!!
     
  19. muinteoir

    muinteoir Companion

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    Jul 22, 2013

    I'm sorry I'm behind on this, I've been on vacation and not checking the board. You can find my procedures here:

    http://science-class.net/General Information/science_handbook.pdf
     
  20. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    Jul 22, 2013

  21. muinteoir

    muinteoir Companion

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    Jul 22, 2013

    I introduce them as we need them.

    I start the first day with how to enter class, leave class, get supplies. We do a short lab. I do the lab to introduce the procedures that will be in place for lab work for the rest of the year.

    I do not spend the entire period going over rules, procedures and stuff like that. It bores the kids and me too. I spend the first 3 days doing mini-activities designed to teach procedures as we go along. It gets the kids in the mindset that science is a hands on class, we are busy all the time, and we do things a particular way.
     
  22. Pi-R-Squared

    Pi-R-Squared Groupie

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    Jul 26, 2013

    WOW! That is an impressive collection of procedures.... I'm a newly hired first-year math teacher in middle school. I've read the students can be challenging AND fun at the same time.... I know I may have discipline problems / classroom management issues so this might come in handy! ;)
     
  23. txteach2b

    txteach2b Comrade

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    Jul 26, 2013

    I agree on the list of procedures! Fantastic list. I'm probably going to take a couple of ideas from this!
     
  24. Storyteller

    Storyteller Rookie

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    Jul 31, 2013

    Those procedures are probably going to save my life. I don't teach science but I will definitely be going through them to see what can be used and adapted for my SS classroom. Thank you so so much for sharing them!! I am a first-year nervous (read: terrified) teacher and these are going to help me get started!
     
  25. SpiffyScience

    SpiffyScience Rookie

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    Aug 6, 2013

    lollicat -

    Plan as much as you can now! Any time left in your summer, plan, plan plan! Even if you have to change things later, it's better to have your ideas mapped out then try to start from scratch when you're in the thick of it.

    Contact your principal and get any materials (books, workbooks, curriculum, resources from the previous teacher) that they have.
    Ask about the discipline procedures at the school!

    See if you can get into your room now and start organizing things the way you want them. I agree with the others about decorations; if you're spending your whole day in there, decorate to make yourself happy!

    Find out who your mentor teacher is (if they do that in Texas) and try to find a way to introduce yourself. Take them cookies.

    Good luck!
     
  26. Harper

    Harper Companion

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    Aug 6, 2013

    I love seeing pics of your room. So bright and clean!

    Ima, would you mind sending your map to me? I have to make one for 6,7 and 8 this year and I am starting from scratch. I'd love to see our layout. Thank you so much!
    Harper
     

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