Veteran Tchrs Please Respond - If I Had Known...

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by ayotte04, Jun 6, 2007.

  1. ayotte04

    ayotte04 Comrade

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    Jun 6, 2007

    As mentioned before, I will begin my 1st year teaching in the fall. I have the joy of teaching middle school and I'm very excited. What I'd appreciate from you guys is for you to finish this phrase for me...

    "During my 1st year of teaching, if I had known..."

    Just give me 1 or 2 things that you wish someone had told you going into the year.

    Thanks for your time:)
     
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  3. historybuff91

    historybuff91 Companion

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    Jun 7, 2007

    ...The Importance of quick answers and the mindset of middle schooler.
     
  4. ~~Pam~~

    ~~Pam~~ Companion

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    Jun 7, 2007

    I wish I had known...

    that there is a TON of paperwork to keep up with related to IEPs, SSTs, parent conferences, clubs, meetings, etc. and all the procedures that you need to think through BEFORE the first day of school. :confused:
     
  5. patti2

    patti2 Cohort

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    Jun 7, 2007

    I teach second, but I wish I had known to read all of the chapter books the summer before and through all of the texts....it took up a lot of valuable time during the year!
     
  6. Steph-ernie

    Steph-ernie Groupie

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    Jun 7, 2007

    how many different things a teacher has to be thinking about every moment of the day.
     
  7. EnglishMiss

    EnglishMiss Rookie

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    Jun 7, 2007

    I'm far from "veteran," having just finished my first year, but I think this is the biggest thing I learned in my first year: when you're frustrated and overwhelmed and you just want to cry at the end of some day (that day will come!), always remember that tomorrow is a new day on all fronts - things will always look brighter after a night of sleep, you can try something new with that class that's a handful, you'll be more ready attack the pile of grading and paperwork awake and alert... For me, each semester, there were one or two nights when this was all that got me through - tomorrow is a new day!
    Oh, and I second the thinking through your procedures, and exactly how you're going to react to infringements, BEFORE school starts - not knowing how to react to the rule-breakers was the biggest classroom management mistake I made. :)
     
  8. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jun 7, 2007

    -That the way to get a bee out of your room is to turn off the lights and open the doors and windows. The bees will head for the light.
     
  9. ayotte04

    ayotte04 Comrade

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    Jun 8, 2007

    A bee came into your classroom?
     
  10. ayotte04

    ayotte04 Comrade

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    Jun 8, 2007

    So should I try to have everything planned out ahead of time before the first day? As in my discipline system, and everything about the way I want to run the class? It's just that no one really tells you that during the credentialing process.
     
  11. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jun 8, 2007

    One year I must have had a yellow jacket hive right near my classroom. We had 2 or 3 a day. We're in NY, so we have no AC.

    But yes, even in normal years, I can count on a number of bees in early fall and late spring.
     
  12. Mrs. R.

    Mrs. R. Connoisseur

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    Yes, Yes, and Yes! This is an absolute must. Sit down and write everything out. Read about different discipline/classroom management systems and find the one that feels right to you. Think about how you will handle missing assignments/potty breaks/ lost pencils/ basically everything you can think of.

    Then come back here and read all of the great ideas and suggestions. I've been her for almost a year now, and I've learned so much! (And after 14 years, I thought I knew a lot of stuff about teaching :) )
     
  13. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Never do anything to make the head secretary or caretakers angry; they can make your life miserable!

    Oh, and if you do so inadvertantly, the price of a cup of coffee, a couple of homemade cookies or a chocolate bar goes a long way!
     
  14. ~~Pam~~

    ~~Pam~~ Companion

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    Jun 8, 2007

    You are so right, but is a real deal breaker to a successful classroom! Think about how you want the students to sharpen pencils, go to the restroom, move around the room, start the class period, leave at the end of class, obtain supplies, return supplies, move into groups, ask questions, etc. It seems like I'm a control freak, but if you don't put some thought into these (and other) routines, your class can become chaotic and you lose instructional time. You also have to practice these procedures with the students a lot in the beginning, but they catch on and you'll see that the class can almost run itself!

    Good luck!
     
  15. ayotte04

    ayotte04 Comrade

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    Jun 8, 2007

    All of these are great ideas. I have experienced how helpful and knowledgeable the janitor, front office staff, and librarians can be. It certainly goes a long way to appreciate them.
    I thought I was a little crazy to plan this much so early, but from your responses, I'm glad I'm doing this. Thanks everyone, keep those suggestions coming.
     
  16. CindyBlue

    CindyBlue Cohort

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    Jun 8, 2007

    I second (and third!) the suggestions regarding planning out your procedures before you start school. Teach the procedures and have the kids practice them. Once the kids know the procedures, it frees up SO much time later for learning! (I liken it to piano scales practice...once you KNOW where your fingers are supposed to be, and your body and mind have internalized it to the point where it's automatic, then you can really enjoy learning and playing and feeling the music.) This has worked well in my classroom for many, many years. I'm usually slightly behind the rest of the teachers who teach my subject at the beginning of the year, as I spend extra time daily to teach and practice the procedures in addition to curriculum, but I end up doing SO much more because I don't have to KEEP teaching and reminding throughout the year. A great reference for this is Harry and Rosemary Wong's "The First Days of School."
     
  17. ayotte04

    ayotte04 Comrade

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    Thanks Cindy. I'm reading through the Wong book now. It has SO many ideas. I can see how mastering a procedure in the classroom could free up time so you don't have to repeat yourself over and over throughout the year. I had a master teacher call it "being on autopilot" where the kids should know to put their name, date, and period on the top of any sheet of paper given to them, without her asking.
     
  18. cwp873

    cwp873 Comrade

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    Jun 8, 2007

    - bring flowers to the secretary on the first day of school
    - definitely have the discipline stuff thought out ahead of time and spend SIGNIFICANT time the first couple of weeks on teaching and practicing those expectations
    -be consistent and fair. Kids will never let you forget it it you let someone "get away" with something
    -don't be afraid to laugh with your kids and don't be quick to take offense. Humor goes a long way to building relationships and diffusing situations. Having fun with your kids does NOT mean you're not in control.
    -always, always, always make your first contact with a parent be about something positive. Even if their kid is being awful and you know that you're going to have to make "that" phone call soon, find another reason to call and say good stuff a day or two ahead. They'll be much more receptive to difficulties later if you've been positive first.
     
  19. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

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    Jun 9, 2007

    Great point about the phone calls cwp! I try and contact every parent (I teach elementary so I know I have fewer students than most of you!) in the first week or two and this makes a big difference when it comes to the next contact.
     
  20. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Jun 9, 2007

    1. When you speak to a child, correcting his/her behavior or whatever, pretend the parent or your principal is standing right behind the kid. Would you still be addressing that child the same way if they were?

    2. If you correct and control the little problems, the big problems will rarely develop.
     
  21. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Have plenty of back-up activities and materials ready to go. I taught on a block schedule for the first time last year, and I wasn't really ready to have the kids for an hour and a half. An extra 5 or 10 minutes at the end of class might not seem like a long time, but it is.
     
  22. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Another one: The material is IMPORTANT!!!!! All the other stuff matters too, but the material is important!!!! You've got to get the kids to know the material, and you've got to finish the syllabus. Sometimes it's hard; the kids don't always know all you would like them to know coming in. And snow days and administrative decisions can wreak havoc on your planning. But you've got to know the material-- cold-- and you've got to get through it. Well, not "the last chapter in two days" kind of getting through it.
     
  23. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Not sure if anyone said this before, but...

    Keep records of everything related to student behavior and parent contact. Whenever you have to have a conference with a kid or his parent about disruptive or inappropriate behaviors, write that down in a log. This way, parents can't turn around later and say that you never notified them of problems with their students, and it helps you see patterns of behavior in your students.

    I have students fill out student inventories at the beginning of the year. These include basic info like home telephone numbers and whether their parents speak English, as well as some other stuff like student interests and club activities they're involved with. On the back of this form is a giant table/log with space for the date, type of contact, behavior addressed, blah blah blah. I keep these pages organized by class in a binder on my desk.
     
  24. 5thgraderocks

    5thgraderocks Companion

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    Jun 12, 2007

    :angel: I had an incredible "Halloween" bulletin board the first year. It was the only one I ever had!! I still remember the night before Parent Conferences (my first) taking down the suddenly "dated" bulletin board. Conferences in our district are usually the first week in November. It's sooooooo much easier to put up a fall tree and stick a pumpkin under it. Keep this in mind at Christmas, too! If you focus on snow people ... you can leave for the holidays without doing a makeover!
     
  25. eph612

    eph612 New Member

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    Jun 12, 2007

    During my 1st year of teaching, if I had known what I know now, I would have done some things differently:) But that's the magic of teaching...you get to grow with your students. I just finished up five years of teaching in middle school and loved every minute of it. I am now moving on to one of my other loves...teaching high school. Enjoy your adventure...I have been enjoying mine:)
     
  26. MrsMikesell

    MrsMikesell Cohort

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    Jun 12, 2007

    - poor planning leads to poor teaching

    - spilt milk really is only spilt milk (don't sweat the small stuff - it's all small stuff)

    - kids really just want to have fun, so teach them in a fun way
     
  27. AHB

    AHB Rookie

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    Jun 12, 2007

    I would like to have known so many things I couldn't possibly write them all down and have forgotten plenty. Needless to say I've learned a bunch in the 6 years I've been teaching and still look to veteran teachers, the Internet, and good friends who are not teachers for great tips. I guess what I'm saying is find out who the smart people are and hang out with them :)
     

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