New Job :) Six Preps :(

Discussion in 'New Teachers' started by jessi.lewis, May 9, 2008.

  1. jessi.lewis

    jessi.lewis Rookie

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    May 9, 2008

    I already feel a little better reading through posts which make it clear to me that the stages of landing that first job are common. (Ecstatic, Complacent, Horrified, and so on...:) I am now reaching the "I can't sleep because I'm so worried about what the heck I'm going to do!" phase.

    I have several questions. First, is it ok for me to contact the school and ask to meet with the current teacher whose position I am taking over? I would feel a lot better if I could see how she runs her classroom, as well as how the room is set up and what materials I will need to acquire before August.

    Second (this is the reason for my lack of sleep), this is a VERY rural school with about 8-10 kids in each GRADUATING class. This means that I will be teaching at least 6 different classes each day. (Geography, US History, US Government, World History, 7/8 History, and Sociology) During student teaching, I had ONE lesson to prepare each night, which took me about 2-3 hours. Doing the math, I just don't see how 6 preps each night is even possible. I guess my question is.... how the heck am I going to manage that?!? And is it ok to ask that type of question of my employer?

    Thanks in advance to any helpful advice anybody can give me.... I look forward to sleeping again at night! :)

    Jessi
     
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  3. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    May 9, 2008

    I wouldn't ask your employer how your are going to handle six preps because I don't think that would send a good message to your principal. It's your job to figure that out. You should ask the teacher how she manages six preps but I bet I could answer for her. You CAN'T plan the night before when you have six preps. You are going to have to really organize yourself and your planning by starting before school really even starts. While I have never had six preps, my first year teaching I did have 4 preps. I started with 2 weeks planned in avanced for each prep. After week one, I still had one week already planned then started planning week three so that I always had two weeks planned. I always felt okay because of that two week cushion. In my planning, I completely planned each lesson, made all copies, lecture notes, etc... so each day was completely done. You really can't do anything on the fly when you have that many preps or it will drive you crazy. :)

    Congrats on the new job -
     
  4. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    May 9, 2008

    jessi- a good way to look at each class is in unit chunks, instead of individual lessons. figure out what themes you'd like to teach for one class for the year, and then plot them out on a calendar (i usually spend about 2 weeks per theme, or unit). then create an assessment, figuring out where students should end up, and fill the two weeks with readings and activities that will get them there. some activities and readings will take several days, and you won't need to write out word for word lessons-just general ideas. once you have a year mapped out like for one subject, move on to the next. you have all summer to work on this, so just casually map out your year and then start to work on the specific activities when you're done.

    i taught three types of science this year, and if i had had the summer to map out, it would have been a snap. but we didn't get our new books until a day before school started, so i had to do the nightly thing, and i was completely overwhelmed and couldn't catch up. so really-don't think that's even a slightly viable way to teach. totally plan ahead of time. i love plotting out my year-it's so organized and there is still a ton of room for flexability.

    if you go to my homepage (look under my profile) and look on the classroom management tab, and then the lesson planning tab, you will find a bunch of calenders for plotting out your year.
     
  5. jessi.lewis

    jessi.lewis Rookie

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    May 9, 2008


    Wow I'm so glad I found this site, this has all been extremely helpful! So first of all, thank you for the great advice which gives me something to do rather than just kindly words of encouragement. (Which also have their time and place:)

    You actually lead me to another question that I have: Where do I start planning out the year? Does each school have a book or something that contains the vague curriculum that is expected to be taught in each class? If so, where do I get this? (Keep in mind, this is a rural school and NOTHING is available online, I've looked.) I feel like I may be trying to re-invent the wheel here, because I'm sure SOMEBODY along the way has already done this.... right? :)
     
  6. jessi.lewis

    jessi.lewis Rookie

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    May 9, 2008



    Thank you! I am very excited (if completely nervous) about it too! :) This is really good advice, I will start planning right away... It appears organization might be the next obstacle I'll need to conquer!

    :)
     
  7. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    May 9, 2008

    I would ask if they have textbooks, or a set of standards they want taught by the end of the year. If so, ask for the teacher's copy of each and use these as guides. They should give them to you over the summer to plan, I would think. If not, then I guess you have a bit of research to do. ;( I hope to have some more social studies stuff up on the site in the next few weeks-I've only started to scan my stuff in. You are welcome to use anything off of there that works for you.

    You can also check out the Montana state benchmarks. After a dogged search, I found them for you. Looks like they have them grouped by every four years, which is really strange, but it will hopefully give you a guide!
    http://www.opi.mt.gov/pdf/Standards/ContStds-SocSt.pdf
     
  8. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    Jem has given you great advice - use your standards to plan your units. You also need to find out if your high schoolers test in any social studies area. In my state, all juniors in my school must take and pass a standarize US history test and make sure you find out graduation requirements. My state adopts new textbooks every six years so I learned a long time ago to do my mapping using my standards instead of my textbook. You should try to get any course materials as soon as possbile. Most good textbooks will give you ideas for hands on activites, primary sources to use, etc. . . Also, google social studies lesson plans and you will get TONS of great stuff.
     
  9. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    IN teacher-I love your avatar! Where in Indy do you teach? I went to HS in Noblesville.
     
  10. supertaz93

    supertaz93 Rookie

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    May 9, 2008

    I taught in a small, rural school in MO where the graduating class sizes are similar my first year. I also had six different preps. I was hired a couple of weeks before school started so I didn't have time to prepare much of anything. My advice is prepare a unit in advance as said above. I was required to have lesson plans a week in advance at all times. I managed to do it while still going to school and working a part-time job(only because I hated to give up the good money and working from home), so I am sure you will be able to do it. It sounds harder than it is.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2008
  11. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    May 10, 2008

    In your first year, you may have to rely on the teacher guides quite a bit for extension activities - ideas for projects, additional suggested readings.

    Find out if the school has: the same publisher for the textbooks for each grade, student workbooks, standardized testing that includes your subject area. Ask if the previous teacher will be leaving any resources (reference materials, historical fiction, files), see if the school provides maps, atlases, almanacs.

    Scout out the thrift shops. I have gotten most of my class reference library from them. It is amazing what you can find. I've even found teacher units on Lewis & Clark, westward expansion, etc. Or check ebay.
     
  12. jessi.lewis

    jessi.lewis Rookie

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    May 10, 2008

    I am completely addicted to this website now :) Thank you so much for all the helpful ideas.... I just wanted to update you guys, I found out now that I have SEVEN preps, haha. The good news just keeps coming!

    Thanks again, I am preparing a list of questions to ask my employer and the current teacher when I drive back up there this Thursday! Have a good day! :)
     
  13. wig

    wig Devotee

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    May 10, 2008

    You have received great advise. I teach middle school. In a normal year I teach 5/6/7/8 SS, 6-ELA, 6-Lit, and 6-Religion. Such is the way it is in small schools. It really does look worse than it is. However, this is not a normal year so I also have 5 ELA and 5-Reading. So I understand how you feel. Those two extra classes overwhelmed me even though I taught them with 6th grad and adapted.

    I doubt that your lesson plans will have to be as detailed as they were in ST. As a PP mentioned, you may have to rely pretty heavily on your teacher manuals at first.

    Call the admin and ask for the schools SS curriculum, if you can have the manuals for the summer, and if you could talk with the teacher that is leaving. If she is leaving because she wants to leave, it probably will not be a problem.

    I wonder if googling curriculum maps or pacing guides for your subject and Montana will give you some sources from other districts.
     
  14. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    Thanks ;) Queen Elizabeth I is one of my most favorite females - even before the movies. I don't teach in Indy - I am in a small rural town in southern Indiana. We used to live in CA and moved here to get away :p
     
  15. WaterfallLady

    WaterfallLady Enthusiast

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    May 11, 2008

    I am going to have 5 preps next year as a second year teacher. Next year, our graduating class is slated to have 1 senior! Some years, there aren't any ( I am changing schools- I work in a rural area right now but its larger than the school I'm moving to).

    Anyways, I understand how overwhelmed you feel. I agree you are going to have to plan far in advance. I like the idea of having all the copies, etc made several weeks ahead of time so on Monday you can just start teaching stress-free and laugh when the copy machine breaks down and all the teachers are freaking out :)

    Good luck!
     
  16. wig

    wig Devotee

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    I always plan each unit and run off all copies for that unit when I plan it. It staggers things out a bit and like you said, makes for a stress free Monday
     
  17. LA/FLnewbie

    LA/FLnewbie Companion

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    May 12, 2008

    I'm a first year with five preps, and when I fell behind planning, boy was I sorry! It took me a while to get organized, but now I force myself to stay late on Fridays and plan out the whole week. My stress level on Sundays has gone wayyy down. It makes for a long Friday, but it's so worth it!
     
  18. wunderwhy

    wunderwhy Comrade

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    May 12, 2008

    Over the summer I would make a list for each marking period of each unit and major assignment you want the students complete. Ask your dept. chair or mentor or AP:

    What units/topics you must cover in each course
    If there is a state test, and if so, when
    The amount of homework it is appropriate to give students in each grade/level
    The number of papers or projects they are expected to do each marking period
    The number of tests and/or quizzes they are expected to take

    Then, once you know what you want to accomplish, I'd make a tentative weekly schedule like this:

    Week of Sept. 1 Ice breakers, classroom rules and expectations, introduction to [name of unit]

    Week of Sept. 8 Ch 1 due, notes, quizzes, activities

    Week of Sept. 15 Assign paper (or project) due Oct. 6, Review Ch. 1, group review activities

    Week of Sept. 22 Test on Ch. 1, Introduce Ch. 2

    Etc.

    I'd do that for the whole year, but give yourself wiggle room to get behind due to assemblies, testing, etc. That way if you find yourself stressed out later, you can at least see where you're supposed to be that week. If you have time, you can develop activities to go along with the chapter or write up your own quizzes. If you don't, you can use the supplementary materials that you will (hopefully) be given by your school.

    With seven preps you just won't have the freedom to differentiate much between your classes. Use similar activities when possible. Get the students used to working in groups to present and review material together. I find it easy to get caught up in brainstorming improvements to my lessons, but sometimes I have to concede that the time and effort it would take is not worth the nominal improvement to the lesson. With seven preps, you will have to be a big picture planner and can't get caught up creating elaborate activities or materials on your own.
     
  19. jessi.lewis

    jessi.lewis Rookie

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    May 13, 2008

    Wow that's a really great idea! How long did it usually take you on Friday evenings to get everything done? Do you have any suggestions on organization for that many preps? :)
     
  20. jessi.lewis

    jessi.lewis Rookie

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    May 13, 2008

    This is so helpful, thank you!! I have added all your questions to my list that I will be asking them when I go there tomorrow, and I will start making my unit plans ASAP. Thanks again! :)
     

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