Or so I thought....New Teacher Woes

Discussion in 'General Education' started by CatfaceMeowmers, Jul 29, 2015.

  1. CatfaceMeowmers

    CatfaceMeowmers Companion

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    Jul 29, 2015

    So this will be my first year teaching. For the entire summer, I have been planning what my classroom culture will look like as well as how I will conduct my lessons: Using an interactive notebook, lots of group work, and fun activities. Overall, I knew it was going to be a lot of work on my end, but I thought perhaps it was worth at try.

    I finally got to sit and talk with a veteran teacher, who I will be working with this year. We literally talked for hours. After hearing from her I have made some drastic changes.

    Don't get me wrong, I am not changing everything based on her opinions and experiences. But she was REALLY good at playing devil's advocate. She said she had never seen anyone do interactive notebooks, those who she has seen attempted it quickly dropped it, as it takes too much time.

    I planned to spend the first 2 weeks of nothing but procedures and rules, while she was going to start class on the first day (still going over some rules though).

    The biggest change is the interactive notebook. I spent hours planning and putting mine together; but since I have no real classroom experience, I really don't know how it would go. But I realized it would take a long time. Plus, all of the information I used for my math interactive notebook, came straight from their new workbook. Why rewrite what's already in their workbook?

    I feel a bit down, but also a bit relieved. I worked so hard. But it's better to know now than halfway into the school year that I shouldn't have done x or y. I also am a bit relieved since I know a lot of work will be off my chest now. I thought I had a clear vision of my classroom, now I am back to square one...I still have about a month before school starts - plenty of time.

    I am keeping a lot of my procedures and classroom rules, thankfully those were good.

    Oh, another thing. It has been drilled into my head throughout my teacher education - cooperative group work. All the time. Group work. Group work. Group work.

    She doesn't do group work. She never moves her desk. Direct instruction is not the best way, but it is efficient sometimes. I agree - but I am just so lost in what to do. I wanted to do group work with jobs so that every student is responsible. But ya know, I think I will still do that.

    Now don't get me wrong, she is an amazing teacher! She told me that there is not ONE way to teach. She encouraged me to try the interactive notebooks and group work. It's my first year, I need to experiment on what I like and don't like. There will be things I like about her teaching style and things I don't like about her teaching style.

    Now, I know not to copy her, but isn't it a good idea to take advice from a SUCCESSFUL veteran teacher?

    @____@ I dread having to rework all of my plans, but I think I should...
     
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  3. ludoak

    ludoak Rookie

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    Jul 29, 2015

    As a first year teacher you will hear a lot of advice from a lot of different people. Some of it will be good, some of it will not. But, once school starts, you close the classroom door and it is only you teaching the class. So, listen to what other people have to say, but most importantly, take ownership of your class and do what makes you feel comfortable. You'll be a lot more successful implementing your own ideas that the things you think other people want you to do.

    And for what it is worth, a lot of people use interactive notebooks successfully...myself included.
     
  4. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Jul 29, 2015

    I use interactive notebooks, group work, small groups, and direct teach.

    I do agree with starting a little bit of work the first day or so. Use your lessons to teach your procedures and expectations but sixth graders should be able to catch on quickly. If they don't, stop and practice.
     
  5. WarriorPrncss

    WarriorPrncss Companion

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    Jul 29, 2015

    One of the great things about teaching is that there is no ONE way to teach something. And even better-- if what you're using isn't working like you'd hoped--- you can change it.

    I'm going into my first year and I am terrified because I have SO much information coming at me from all different directions.

    Here's what I've taken from what I've got so far: Take what you know and what you like and use it. If it doesn't work, try a suggestion you've heard. Just because another teacher does things different doesn't mean it's better for you to do it that way, too.

    Example: Classroom reward system. I love using the marble jar, along with team points and a "treasure chest". The teachers I work with now don't use that and said they weren't sure it'd work--- but it worked great and kids loved it when I used it while student teaching. If it turns out that it doesn't work, I'll try something new.

    I've heard of teachers who love interactive notebooks (I intended to try them out, too), and some who say they are too much work... all depends on the teacher.
     
  6. CatfaceMeowmers

    CatfaceMeowmers Companion

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    Jul 29, 2015

    Haha, so....while I started to rework my lesson plans, I realized I really really want to do interactive notebooks. However, some of the foldables that I had in mind just won't be as extravagant. And the information that goes inside will be extra information that is NOT found in the workbook.

    I also realized I really really want to do group work! Gah! My mind changes so much!
     
  7. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Jul 29, 2015

    This is good advice. Like the veteran teacher told you, everyone has to develop their own style.

    Feel free to experiment with different things in the classroom. Be prepared to adjust or just drop things that aren't working.

    The best piece of advice the teacher gave you way to begin teaching curriculum from day 1. You can incorporate all your rules and procedures as you teach. The school year is really too short to give up too much instructional time.

    Good luck! You will be great!!
     
  8. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Jul 29, 2015

    Try what you want to try. I guarantee, some of it will crash and burn, but some of it you may really like and keep.

    When I first started, I told everyone about my idea of an Organized Binder system with color coded pages, etc. Everybody thought it was too much work, and it would never work out, and that I would quit it after a few weeks.

    I'm still using it four years later (albeit with some tweaks here and there), and students and parents tell me how much they love it because it makes them organized and they don't lose papers (a huge middle school problem) when they keep up with it.

    Some things that don't work for your neighbor will work for you and vice versa. You'll never know unless you try it out yourself. I am much more organized in how I approach teaching and in general than my neighbor. He is a little more off-the-cuff, no-need-for-a-plan, leave-the equipment-around-the-room kind of guy. I'm more of a type-A: everything needs to be in its proper labeled place, I need printed lessons for each day, and specific worksheets/graphic organizers for each lesson kind of teacher.

    I will say that in my personal experience, interactive notebooks did not work out for me, and I too thought I would spend 1-2 weeks on procedures, but now I only spend about one day on procedures (just going over the syllabus, the different ways to do things in my class, etc.), but I continue to assess them on it for at least two weeks or more.

    However I do tons of group work and couldn't imagine my classroom with it. Take everything you hear with a grain of salt.
     
  9. CatfaceMeowmers

    CatfaceMeowmers Companion

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    Jul 29, 2015

    Thanks so much for all of the advice! I am diligently working on my new schedule of instruction, keeping in mind my own ideas :)
     
  10. platypusok

    platypusok Companion

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    Jul 29, 2015

    This! Plus, what works with one group of kids may not work with another group of kids. Some kids do really well with group work and some years and/or classes do not.

    I'm trying interactive notebooks with my 8th graders this year. I fully intend to tell them that I've not used them before so they will be my guinea pigs as we decided how well it works and how much they like them.
     
  11. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Jul 29, 2015

    My advice is to take her ideas and put them all on a shelf. Begin the year being yourself and doing what you believe in. As the year goes on and you see that certain things don't work, you will have her ideas as an option to change to after you carefully evaluate each one. I am a veteran teacher of over 20 years, but I don't want any teacher coming in copying me (although I think I am a good teacher), I want them to be themselves as that is the only way to succeed.

    Once they see that some of their ideas don't work, then I can help them. If they never give their ideas a chance, they will never be able to be the teacher that takes education to the next level. I have a couple of really good things that I did my first couple of years that I still use today. Don't let anyone talk you out of trying your best ideas before you give them a chance.
     
  12. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Jul 29, 2015

    I agree with the others - try and see what works for you.

    I will share that most of what they say in education classes just doesn't work in real life. Remember - if those instructors were that awesome at teaching, they'd still be in the classroom with younger pupils.
     
  13. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    I agree with everyone who posted. You will sift through what others advise, the popular trends, the hot new things, and find what works for you. That is how it should be and it is the way that you find your own path. Along the way you will have many chances to toss what doesn't work for you and keep what does.

    Now that I am semi-retired and just tutoring, I miss group work most of all. I always made it into games and the kids got into it and it was so much fun. Enjoy your first year!
     
  14. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Jul 29, 2015

    My students work either in partners, triads or pairs at least once a day (I teach them math, literacy, health, visual arts, drama). They learn by interacting with each other and it helps to satisfy some of their need to socialize (on task of course) with their peers.
     
  15. leeshis0019

    leeshis0019 Companion

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    Jul 29, 2015

    Know this:

    In your first year the content will seem very important. It will seem like it's the most important thing. You will want to cover everything that you can and ignore what's really great about teaching and that's the kids. I think this happens because it's so drilled into your head that classroom management is secondary and content is primary.

    I think that classroom management is primary and content is maybe secondary. I know my stuff. When it comes to Chemistry I can have a topic thrown at me and I can just start a quick lesson on the board and have the students do the work. Whatever. Some lessons are huge and take a long time to create, but that's not why I teach. I teach because I enjoy trying to convince the students that the subject is relevant to them and that they can succeed at it. Hands down.


    Recently read up on some research and read a book on this, but essentially the best way to increase student performance is to engage them. Creating an engaging lesson plan isn't it. Using example that are meaningful to them [and their interests] is huge. Even if it's goofy. Also, students tend to perform better when they think you care. And I mean care. Student's know that when you ask them about their day you aren't looking for a life story, but they'll tell you anyways and love that you asked.

    Managing a classroom isn't about control. You set up procedures (not rules) about how your classroom works. Where do they turn in work? What are bathroom procedures? Do they raise their hands to answer a question?

    After procedures they need to know your "non-negotiables". These are things that bother you and you just cannot teach without these being in place. One of my "non-negotiables" is respect for peers, the classroom and myself. Don't be rude and don't be destructive. This isn't control. You aren't asserting dominance without reason.

    If you know your stuff everything else just flows. Classroom management is probably 60-70% of teaching. The rest is a mixture of content knowledge and schizophrenia.
     
  16. applecore

    applecore Devotee

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    Jul 29, 2015

    I love you ideas! I hope you'll keep them--tweak as you feel necessary.


    Try in the name of research. If philosophies in teaching were born out of research, than your teaching pedagogy will too.
     
  17. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Jul 30, 2015

    I like devil's advocates :) They really make you look at things from a point of view you haven't considered. My P does this all the time, and it helps me see the flaws in my plans.

    Interactive notebook: I've been wanting to do it, but somehow still haven't figured out how to incorporate it into English. It seems like a lot of work, but worth it. However, I would not do it in my first year, it can be stressful.

    Groupwork: just because the other teacher doesn't do it, doesn't mean you shouldn't. Start on the first day and start teaching its procedures. Groupwork, if done right (with a purpose, not just for the sake of doing groups) can be very beneficial to students.

    Rules and procedures vs starting teaching the 1st day.
    You do not have to choose. I would (and have done so for the past 2 years) spend the first day with welcoming them, assigning their seats, going over rules and procedures. (I'm in high school so I only have 1 class with each group, not the whole day). Then from day 2 I start teaching, but I expect it to go slow because I am focusing on rules, breaking them and procedures.
    So if you have groups of 4s, you will have to teach them how they will have 1 student always getting up for supplies, where does this go, what happens then, etc. But you can do that while you're actually teaching and they're doing things, just expect it to go slow as you have to clarify things, or remind them of how things will work.
    I think the worst thing you can do is teach procedures without content. It gets boring really quickly and you will have classroom management issues.

    Most importantly, you want to stay flexible. If something doesn't work, alter it. Don't throw it out completely unless it really doesn't work, because you will seem wishy washy, but if for example 1 student getting up for supplies seems to take way too long, they socialize too much, etc, it might work easier if you walk around and hand them out, and it just takes 1 minute, or 1 student does it.

    One advice I always told myself: always do things in a way that it's easiest for me, it's most common sense, and takes the least amount of effort with the maximum outcome from the students.
     
  18. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Jul 30, 2015

    I had great professors in college. Many of the things I learned really did work, especially what I learned from the ELA teacher. You just have to know your students and environment. There are things I do in my small, rural school are different than what I did in student teaching at an urban school. Try new things but don't get so attached to them that you can't admit what's not working. Some things are just going to be trial and error. I'm going into my 5th year of teaching. I still do quite a few changes based on what worked and what didn't.

    Good luck!
     
  19. Koriemo

    Koriemo Comrade

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    Jul 30, 2015

    I'm going into my second year teaching, and I feel a lot like you!

    Last year, I got my position 3 days before school started. I was also still committed to my previous job, and for the first quarter of school, I was working two jobs as a first year teacher. I also got married and got pregnant. Honestly, I was kind of in survival mode. The whole school year, I did nothing interesting, nothing fun, nothing glamorous.

    I had a handful of things I really wanted my students to be able to do: write complete sentences all the time (no fragments), use quotes from a text to support an argument, punctuated correctly, and to apply four different reading skills ("skimming", "reading", "comprehending" and "close reading") based on the task. That's it. And while my school year wasn't "fun" at all, my students learned to do those four skills with high school level texts. The end of the year feedback I got was, "We learned in this class." and that means a lot to me. Overall, I work with a great population of students that is pretty motivated and college bound, so their behavior and goals were on my side for the most part. I teach juniors, and at that point, students can choose a college path or career path (or drop out), and I taught college prep and honors.

    Anyways, next year, I want to try to incorporate more group work and do interactive notebooks too. I want my class to be a bit more fun and engaging. I want to better reach the 15-20% of kids who aren't motivated by getting a decent grade and who try to slack off. I'm also teaching one section of the career path, which will definitely hold some different challenges.
     

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