New Teacher - I don't know if I'm ready!

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Dawn09, Aug 20, 2009.

  1. Dawn09

    Dawn09 Rookie

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    Aug 20, 2009

    Ok so school starts back in about a week and I am starting to panic. I have been working for this day for a long time but I am so worried that I won't be ready.

    One of my courses doesn't have a curriculum so I am worried that what I have planned won't fit in with what the school or my dept head expects. Any advice here?

    I am having trouble figuring out how long things will take to teach. This is making lesson planning and yearly planning very difficult and I am afraid I will spend too much or too little time on something. Is there a right way to go about this?

    Finally, I have purchased some classroom decorations, organization items, have made some class rules and policies, attendance sheets etc. but I am worried I will miss something crucial for the first day. If anyone could let me know what they have ready for the first day I would appreciate it so much!

    Thanks!! :)
     
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  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Aug 20, 2009

    Welcome Dawn!

    If I told you how little I had prepped this summer, you would lie on the floor and laugh!

    That said, I have tons of experience and have taught all this material before.

    The first thing you need to do is develop the right attitude. YOU are the teacher, you are in charge, and these 15 (or 18 or whatever) year old kids are not in charge.

    What do you teach?

    And what do you plan to do on the first day?

    Does your school have any sort of new teacher orientation days?

    Hang in there... you'll do great!!!
     
  4. dovian

    dovian Comrade

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    Aug 20, 2009

    No curriculum can be bad - or it can be really awesome. I have 2 levels of English with curriculum out the wazoo and then I have drama, which has NOTHING. No tests, no books (until I ordered some last year), nothing I'm required to do except teach something and turn in lesson plans.

    Lemme tell you about English, since I don't know what you teach. This might be totally irrelevant but hopefully something will be helpful. For most units (where unit = novel + auxiliary materials + assessments) I give about 4-6 weeks, depending on the length of the core text. 2-3 days of intro/background, 10-15 days of home reading and expansion activities in class, 5ish days of followup activities/connections (poetry etc.)/writing, then assessment. After the first couple of weeks you'll get a feel for how much you can reasonably cover in a period and in a week. Overplanning is good, to start with - always better to have "extra" activities that you can move around than to be stuck with 15 minutes left and nothing do to but start homework. Then once you get more of a feel you can adjust. I would not even worry about the whole year yet except as a very vague sketch of extremely approximate dates, and a list of what you need to get done, for now. If you're really worried about it, plan a "disposable" unit - one where if you get to it, great, it's enriching and wonderful, and if you don't, no harm done as it wasn't anything crucial.

    For the first day: "emergency" contact forms. Your school might have a format already or you can make your own. We have emergency info on file in the office but it's so much better to have in your personal file. I make a page that asks for name, nickname, parents' contact info, language spoken at home, students' full schedule, and a couple questions about computer literacy/availability. I put those all in a binder and when I have to call home I jot it down on the back. I find it's best to do this on the first day, because they're less likely to give you a fake number :) It's worth finding out from someone in your building the following, if you don't already know:
    - fire drill procedure (and make sure there's a sign in your room)
    - other drill procedures (we have lockdown and shelter in place)
    - how to take attendance the way the school wants
    - standard hall pass? late slips? signout sheets? early dismissal forms? cut slips? office referral slips? what do you do if someone's failing? (you might not have to deal with that last right away)
    - was there summer work? what do you do with it?
    - do you need a key for the teacher's bathroom, and where is it? keys for anyplace else? (when I started in my building I didn't have a key for my closet. Which also meant I couldn't get into the book closet, as it was the same key.)
    - textbook distribution policy - we have book slips and heaven forbid you don't get a book slip for every single book!
     
  5. teachin4ever

    teachin4ever Cohort

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    Aug 20, 2009

    Check out this link:

    http://www2.ednet10.net/txbess/documents/TxBESSHandbook1of2-BeginningTeacherssection-59pages.pdf

    Someone on here posted this (and if I could remember who it was, I would give them credit!) and it's a great starting point for new teachers. They have some tips and a beginner teacher's checklist that may come in handy. Check it out!

    And just for the record, my first year was last year and about a week before school started, I remember asking myself why the heck they hired me! I was so nervous and felt so unprepared. But, everything turned out just fine as I'm sure it will for you. I agree with Alice...YOU are the boss and YOU are in charge. Remember that and you'll do fine! Good luck! :)
     
  6. Dawn09

    Dawn09 Rookie

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    Aug 21, 2009

    Thanks for the advice and kind words!! I will be teaching two classes of Chemistry 11 and one of Math for the Workplace 12. The Chemistry I have done in my student-teaching placement and feel very comfortable with it so I am less nervous about that. The math course frightens me though.

    I appreciate all your suggestions Dovian they were very helpfull. Some things I definitely didn't think of.

    Alice, my first day I have planned to do a welcome, seating plan and attendance, go over the course outline, classroom procedures etc. Then I have a personal information sheet that I have the student fill out. Basic questions for my use only. Then I was thinking to do a "People Fact Bingo" and one other ice breaker where they write one comment on a peice of paper, fold it into and airplane and we through them around the room for a minute. Then everyone picks one up and we have to read the comment out loud, hopefully you aren't reading your own. No names are written down and the comments would be on a question like "what is the best thing you did this summer". After that I plan to get into the curriculum a bit.

    Have I missed anything important?
     
  7. KateL

    KateL Habitué

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    Aug 21, 2009

    I would skip the paper airplane ice breaker. You've got to have really good classroom management to keep something like that from getting out of hand, and if you're nervous on the first day you probably won't have it. Also, if the kids get the impression the first day that they get to goof off in your class, you'll be chasing after them all year long.

    Run your ice breakers by the other teachers, if you can. You don't want to do one that the kids have already done earlier that day in another class.

    For the planning, you can sketch out the year, but you'll continually revise it as you learn how long it actually takes to teach things. For your lesson plans, always overplan at first! It's much better to have extra material that you don't get to than to have 10 extra minutes at the end of class with nothing to do.
     
  8. Lindsay.Lou

    Lindsay.Lou Companion

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    Aug 27, 2009

    I'm going into my second year and I STILL don't have this down, at all. It depends on a lot of things. For example, I teach two world history classes, and sometimes I could complete a lesson in my morning class in 60 minutes, then my afternoon class would take two days to get through it. It's trial by fire. Get to know your students and you'll get a better idea of how long things take. Until then, just plan WAY more stuff then you think you'll need...just to play it safe. Good luck, you'll do great!
     
  9. kfhsdramaqueen

    kfhsdramaqueen Rookie

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    Aug 30, 2009

    If it makes you feel better

    Dawn,

    Good luck, by the way. If it makes you feel any better, my first full year teaching (I won't talk about my 6 month stint at Catholic school), I had 5 different preps: English 10, ESL, Drama, Speech and Music. And no textbooks or curriculum for any of them! In a NY public school, where my English class of 35 was stuffed into a room for 20 with only 18 desks! And I survived, and here I am, 9 years later, still teaching. Always overplan, and don't be afraid to stop mid-lesson and try something else if it doesn't work. Or, if it doesn't work one block, try something different next block. Talk to others in your department and have them give you some pointers. Perhaps they have a pacing guides or something or lesson plans you can look at. Most good teachers have no problems sharing.
     
  10. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Aug 30, 2009

    I'm not big on icebreakers, particularly with the older kids. They already know each other, and you're not going to be able to keep thems straight after one period anyway.

    I'm very big on a quickie intro, then diving right into content. It doesn't work for everyone, but it sets the tone I want to set.
     

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