New teacher feeling directionless

Discussion in 'New Teachers' started by raneydae, Jul 31, 2008.

  1. raneydae

    raneydae Companion

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    Jul 31, 2008

    This is half-rant/half-looking for advice - so it's long, and if you can't help, that's ok! I just want to write this out somewhere! :)

    I got hired for my first teaching job about 3-4 weeks ago. I've been to the school twice; once to interview, once to sign contracts. I've been given the textbook (student edition though) and a CD with textbook resources. I was briefly shown the room I will probably be in, and I know that staff development begins 8/25.

    Other than that, I feel totally clueless.

    These are the things I know:
    - It's a smaller performing arts charter high school, so all of the kids will have super long days and have to balance a regular academic load with their extracurricular arts program.
    - We are moving into a new building in Oct-Nov, so for the first couple months, I will be sharing a classroom.
    - I'll have 4 block periods a day, and my schedule could be anytime between 7am-6pm while we are piggybacking classrooms.

    These are the things I don't know:
    - If I'll be working mornings/afternoons/midday.
    - If I'm teaching all Algebra I classes, or if some of them will be 1A or 1B or the whole book, or a remedial Algebra.
    - What supplies my classroom has, if we have a supply room, if I should purchase scissors, rulers, colored pencils, etc. just to have something, or if the students are required to bring some of this stuff.
    - What paperwork, if any, I'm required to turn in? Lesson plans, syllabuses, implementation plans, etc? The principal said we didn't need to turn in lesson plans, but I can't imagine not having to be accountable for something.
    - If I'll have a mentor teacher, or team, or anyone else I could/should start contacting over the summer.
    - What kind of computer access we have in the classrooms. I saw a couple computers in the classroom I saw, but will I be allowed to download games/programs? Will the students be able to save their work on there?
    - I really like the idea of doing of doing an adventure-type math journal (like here: http://www.mathsquad.com/mathjournal.html), and I've priced the individual journal/sketchbooks, but I don't know if the school will purchase these, or if I'm supposed to, or if the students can repay me, or how this works. (I don't believe I'm at a high poverty school; so I *think* I can request that students purchase things).
    - We're going to have SMARTboards, but I haven't used one before. I was told there would be additional trainings over the summer (I missed the first one), but I haven't heard anything yet.

    I just feel so directionless and I'm a little afraid to throw myself into planning and typing lessons and things, when I feel like everything might change once I have access to and knowledge about more things. I sent an email to my principal asking about a few of these questions, but I haven't heard back yet. Should I have even emailed the principal? I don't know anyone else at the school yet.

    Is this how it always is over the summer before school starts? I just feel like I have no idea what I'm supposed to be doing! :)

    And really, this is a huge posting, if anyone can reply to even a small section of it, it'd probably help make me feel a little better! :D
     
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  3. kimberd

    kimberd Rookie

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    Jul 31, 2008

    I'm there with you!

    I know exactly how you feel. I'm teaching 8th grade math for the first time, just got to see my classroom today and got a student's edition of the book. They have basically nothing as far as manipulatives or anything in the classroom. I have a computer monitor on the desk, but no CPU (don't know if that's locked up for security reasons or what). I'm older, having spent 20+ years of my life as a scientist in the pharmaceutical industry, and I'm not really used to the feeling of hanging in the wind, but I feel that way now. My new teacher orientation starts the 13th, and I wanted to have my classroom set up before then and have a couple weeks worth of lesson plans, but I have no clue where to even begin.

    Any help anyone has for bulletin board design, lesson planning, manipulatives, etc. for 8th grade would be greatly appreciated. It looks like (although I'm not sure) that we'll be starting out with probability and statistics, moving on toward geometry later in the year.

    Thanks for the post!
     
  4. Lareigna

    Lareigna Companion

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    Jul 31, 2008

    This is my first year teaching math as well. I taught LA last year. The only piece of material I have is the teacher edition of the math book. To plan I am starting with the GLE's. My GLE's start with Numbers and Operations, I am going to work through all my Number and Operation GLE's, planning a lesson for each one. Once I am done with those I will move on to the next topic.
    I look at what the specific GLE is asking for the students to be able to do then I check the index of the textbook and findthe pages that relate and plan my lesson from there.
    I hope this helps!
     
  5. dovian

    dovian Comrade

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    Jul 31, 2008

    If you are fairly computer literate (and I assume you are, since you're here :)) the Smartboard shouldn't be a problem. I got a Promethean board (same idea different company) last school year and I love it. Our math teachers got them as well and they probably use them more than I use mine for English. They are great for graphing, problem sets, interactive games, etc. It only takes a little bit of messing around with it to get to be fairly competent. Also, if you have one in your class, you will probably have a computer with it (I know mine wouldn't work otherwise).

    If you want them to have scissors you should probably buy them; at our school they would be a weapon and if the kid got caught at security with it they could get suspended or expelled. However, I don't think it's unreasonable to request that they buy rulers, colored pencils, or whatever else you think they need. Kids are remarkably good at getting hold of stuff when they need to. Of course, you could still hit the sales! I would say get maybe 10-15 rulers and boxes of colored pencils, and then you'd have one for every 2 kids - and then ask that they buy their own anyway. You should get for yourself anything you think you'll need - chalk, pens, maybe a pack of looseleaf and a binder, post its and paperclips. That should be enough to get you through the first day or so and then you can go from there once you've figured out what you have available.

    If you're sharing a room for a while that may mean it comes already decorated, which means that you can wait on getting paper and borders and stuff until well after September, which would be good because here our teacher-supply stores stay open LATE on the first day of school because the line's out the door.

    So, here's what I would work on if I were you:
    - General class guidelines: Attendance policy, grading policy (including grade breakdown, late work, and makeup work) materials needed, and anything else you think students should know. You will want to give this out the first day of school. I put it all on one piece of paper along with my name and contact info and a course overview.
    - What are you going to do on the first couple days of school? Regardless of which Algebra you end up teaching, I can imagine that the first couple days will end up looking very similar. I plan for a preclass assignment (can lead into a getting-to-know-you thing), having them fill out information sheets (get parent contact info NOW before they figure out that they can give you a wrong phone #!), distribution and review of class policies (last year I did a quick scavenger hunt) and then a short lesson - maybe a review of something they should already know? Since you have a block you will have time to do things in more detail than I do.

    In general, if you can get through the first week without losing your mind, you will be OK :) If you can get those first few days organized then you will have time later to get more detailed, once you have a better idea of what needs to be done.
     
  6. MissAinCA

    MissAinCA Rookie

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    Jul 31, 2008

    I can totally relate so much of your dilemma. This is what I can help suggest: If you are going to be responsible for lesson plans, find out if there is a specific template you will have to use. Either 1, begin designing it and save a template to a flashdrive or 2, download the template and save it to your flashdrive. I'm recommending this because when starting out like you are with so much that is still unknown having tedious things like designing lesson plans and templates still to do can be incredibly frustrating.
    Next, make a list of things in order of priority for YOU. For your piece of mind, since there are still so many aspects out of your control, make of list of things to do, make, create, gather, etc... that you DO have control over so that you can feel like you are getting something done to get ready for the upcoming school year. Hopefully this will help bring down your stress level, organize your mind, and help you feel more mentally prepared for the start of school. Hope some of this helps! Good luck. You'll be fine and you will see that everything will fall into place.
    One more thing: When I begin to get stressed over things like materials and the feeling of not having enough to be prepared I think about how long teachers have been teaching students and how many generations of people taught with little or no supplies-let alone a classroom! Don't get hung up on the small stuff.
     
  7. raneydae

    raneydae Companion

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    Aug 1, 2008

    dovian and MissAinCA - thanks SO much for your suggestions! They at least give me an idea of where to start from, which is what I think I really needed!

    And kimberd and Lareigna, I'm glad you guys understand as well!

    Anyone else have any suggestions on what I should be doing? Or some sort of reassurance that new teachers always feel this directionless during the summer beforehand?? :)
     
  8. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    Aug 3, 2008

    Don't borrow trouble.

    Things will fall into place.

    Be patient.

    You can only live one day at a time and only do a certain amt. of work in each day. You don't have to have everything done in one day.

    Did I mention "Be patient"? :hugs:

    Look around at some of the teacher's web pages on this site. Be sure to check out this one. There's a wealth of info there. http://hill.troy.k12.mi.us/staff/bnewingham/myweb3/index.htm

    Seasoned teachers love brand new teachers, find one who'll mentor you or adopt you, wish you were going to be on my campus!!
     
  9. raneydae

    raneydae Companion

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    Aug 4, 2008

    Well, I got to talk to another math teacher at the school and she answered a BUNCH of my questions! She explained some things I hadn't been told, like how the principal likes for us NOT to teach out of the book and how the kids mostly leave their textbooks at home, and that they are given a math workbook to do all their homework in and to not take a "grade" on it, and that I'll be teaching an Algebra 1 class and a 1B class, and possibly another class as well.

    These are all good things to have found out! I actually feel like I can start planning now because I have a direction and don't just feel like I'm making things up that are all going to have to change.

    I know new teachers shouldn't stress or worry, and it's not that I was really that nervous, it was more that I just felt so clueless as to what, if anything, I was supposed to be doing. I know things are going to change as the year progresses, but I don't want to show up to staff development with no idea of what's going on either. :)
     
  10. Alisha

    Alisha Cohort

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    Aug 14, 2008

    I feel pretty directionless as well, this post made me feel a little better though. I'm glad I'm not the only one! I posted a similar thread about a week ago and everyone was very helpful, but it is nice to know I'm not completely lost and crazy by myself! ;)

    THANKS FOR THE POST!

    We can do it, and we're going to be great! :D
     
  11. Passion4Teachin

    Passion4Teachin Rookie

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    Aug 15, 2008

    I feel the same way, except... I still have not signed my contract and still have not even heard anything about me signing. (I am assuming I will be signing it the first day that new teachers are supposed to report?) I have dropped off all my paperwork at the HR office so all of that is completed... but its still stressful.

    I dont know what my classroom looks like, who my kids are going to be, what books my school has in stock... talk about feeling directionless. I think i am gonna be spending a lot of the first couple weeks working on short stories and poems until I can locate some books and materials. OH GREAT!
     
  12. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Aug 15, 2008

    As a new teacher, I wish you the best--- don't freak out, and as others are saying, things will fall into place. You honestly don't have to have everything 100% perfect for your classroom in regards to set up. Try to focus on your first week's lessons and classroom management--- I've heard MANY older teachers say they wish they could have focused on those two things (and NOT content or setting up the classroom physically).
     
  13. smgreen78

    smgreen78 Rookie

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    Aug 15, 2008

    I'm so glad that you have a teacher you can ask questions of. As a new teacher, I think you should first ask a team member, and if that doesn't work, then as the principal for clarification.

    No matte what resources you are given, remember that your true curriculum are the grade level expecations given by the state. It is somewhat sensitive job of the teacher to find a way to negotiate between what how the principal wants things done, how the district wants things done, and what the state wants done.

    It's fun to be able to create new extensive lessons, decorate classrooms, etc...... but the priority is learning.

    You've all been hired because at least two people knew (you and the person that hired you) that you would help students learn. Focus on that.
     

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