Starting Monday- with no information

Discussion in 'New Teachers' started by escape3500, Mar 26, 2011.

  1. escape3500

    escape3500 Rookie

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    Mar 26, 2011

    Hello, I am a brand new teacher (graduated Spring 2010) that was recently hired to teach 4th grade in an inner city school. My interview was in the form of teaching a lesson to the kids, and did not conclude with a tour of the school or any additional information. I did not expect to get the job, but I did. I am starting a week from Monday (Spring recess is this week) but I am very concerned because I have no information about the school.

    I called the principal Friday to ask if there was a time I could come in to set up the classroom, pick up some curriculum materials, or access student data so I could start planning. I don't even have a class list. She said no, no one will be at the school during the vacation, but she'd have the curriculum coordinator call me (no one did). That was all the information she would give me.

    I am going in Tuesday to the board of education to do my "new teacher orientation." I was told it will only take an hour, and the only thing we are going to do is in-process my paperwork.

    So, what gives? How can I start teaching Monday when I don't even know how many students I will have, or where the bathrooms are, or what specials we have or where the teachers lounge is...

    I have been a district substitute all year long in another district, so I am very good with going with the flow and flying by the seat of my pants. However, I was always given a plan by the classroom teacher. I am very capable of planning on my own, but this is hard to do with no information.

    I get the impression that the teacher I am replacing just quit, because the classroom was completely empty aside from desks. So I will have no help from the previous teacher and the principal, I gather, will be no help as well.

    So my question, what would you do? Do I spill my concerns to the board of education when I go there for my new teacher orientation? I'd appreciate ANY advice you can offer. I have a week to prepare, and I'd like to utilize it! But the principal is making it impossible.

    Thanks in advance :)
     
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  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Mar 26, 2011

    You go in next week and prove that you can roll with the punches. You have a full day's lessons all planned out; things you can teach without knowing a whole lot about the kids.

    I'm high school, so I'm relying more on my mommy memory here; my middle child is in 5th grade.

    Do your 4th graders have any standardized tests coming up? If so, you can certainly dive into test prep.

    If not, then hit the CT state board of education website and find the standards for the major subject areas. Choose a topic you can start, and prep it. For ELA, I would imagine you can do some writing, or celebrate April as Poetry month, or start with a short story you've Xeroxed at Kinkos for them.

    In math, You can convert from fractions to decimals to percents. Even if they already have the skill, those topics can always use some brushing up.

    For Social Studies, take a look at the standards. Or hit current events, locating some of the places in the news on a map. Or blow up a big map of CT and talk about their home.

    Science? Spring is technically here, though apparently no one told the weather man. You can find some way to relate the seasons to whatever they're learning.

    You can regroup after you have some idea what you're dealing with. But prove to them that YOU are the person they want in that classroom, not just for the remainder of this year, but for next year as well.
     
  4. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Mar 26, 2011

    Alice said it perfectly. Just go in on the first day with lessons planned. BUT, also treat this first day as if it's the first day of school. Cover some ground rules, consequences, rewards, your expectations, procedures, etc. Get to the know the kids and start building a rapport with them. Remember to be stern and consistent, but show that you are here for them and that you care about them. Their previous teacher left them, for whatever reason, and you need to show them that you will be there for them. :)
     
  5. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Mar 26, 2011

    You have been given good advice thus far. Also realize that this was be an especially challenging situation, since the kids will be adjusting to a new teacher, not such as easy task. They will likely be less trusting, and less sure of you, since, for some reason, their last teacher has left.
     
  6. rbschreiber@gma

    rbschreiber@gma Rookie

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    Mar 27, 2011

    Remember that as weird and potentially awkward and intimidating this is for you, it is also that way for your new students.

    I would, as someone else mentioned, focus a good chunk of the morning to getting to know them and them learning about you, just as you might on the first day. Set up your rules and consequences, and whatever was going on in those regards before you is out the window. This could be a good thing for the kids - if they didn't get along with the teacher or were doing poorly, all judgment and expectations start fresh. You have a clean plate!

    And then I would try to discover what they have been doing and what they have done, where they stand, what they need work on, etc. You have a lot of work ahead of you but it will be fun!
     
  7. TeachSoCal

    TeachSoCal Rookie

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    Mar 27, 2011

    Are there other 4th grade teachers at the school? If so, hopefully they can help with the transition and get you up to speed. I know the schools in our district make the grade level teachers meet & ensure they are all pacing instruction together.
     
  8. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Apr 2, 2011

    Hmm... just stating that I find that very odd that your school wouldn't give you any time to prep or any information. I'd be worry that they're trying to hide how poor the class is/what issues the school has by doing something like this.

    But good luck to you! I hope you truly enjoy this teaching experience :)
     
  9. bunches3614

    bunches3614 Rookie

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    Apr 14, 2011

    You said that you have been a sub recently. Think about what you have seen in 4th grade classes recently. Mine are finished with standardized testing, so they are reviewing some of the harder concepts that will really be important for the fifth grade. They are doing a lot of writing, core literature, social studies, and science. These are all things that teachers can't fit in before testing. Like someone else said look at your standards, and you can kind of figure out where you should be in the year and develop some lessons around that. Look on the district website to see if you can see who their textbook publishers are and go on their websites. You should be able to get enough to do for the first couple of days, and then ask to meet with your team. Good luck to you, and congratulations on your new job!
     
  10. anthrogirl

    anthrogirl Rookie

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    Apr 19, 2011

    You have some excellent advice here.

    I know it's scary going in blind. I've had that happen to me, too. It's the nature of the job sometimes. And hey, it'll be good practice for when a lesson plan inevitably goes wrong and you have to make a snap adjustment right then and there!

    My advice is to make some lessons, allow for some flexibility, and make sure you have some "first day icebreakers" planned. We do PBIS at my school and incorporate community building every day. That can help you get to know the students quickly.

    Good luck!
     

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