Watch your toes! New Teacher aboard!

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by ayotte04, Jul 17, 2007.

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  1. ayotte04

    ayotte04 Comrade

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    Jul 17, 2007

    Hi all,

    I think I can speak for some other "about to become 1st year teachers "when I ask this. What recommendations can you give to us newbies about joining the school staff?

    I know we are supposed to keep our mouths shut, stay as neutral as possible, and not try to outshine others. But I'm very concerned about stepping on the toes of the veterans and I DO NOT want to do that.

    Any tidbits of advice?
     
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  3. wldywall

    wldywall Connoisseur

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    One major bit of advice, avoid the teachers lounge and if you have to be in ther for any reason (I went to he lounge last year during the hour I didn't teach and another teacher was in my room....there was no where else to go) just avoid the talk bashing students, other teachers or administration. Just bring a book and keep your head down, talk about flowers, favoirte books etc, but avoid the rest of that stuff. You do not want to get in the middle of something that you can't deal with and I tell you many of hte teachers that spend time in the teachers lounge use it as a *itch session, that is why they are called lounge lizards......most of the stress from my first year teaching came from time in the lounge.
     
  4. ancientcivteach

    ancientcivteach Habitué

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    Jul 17, 2007

    You know, I'd lay low the first year. Keep your eyes and ears open and you mouth closed as much as possible.

    Ask for advice, most people love to give it! (Lovely thing about advice is you can ignore it completely if you like!)

    I'd encourage you to find a "school mom". (A mentor if you prefer) Someone who has been teaching successfully, someone who has held on to their enthusiasm, someone who likes to share. They don't have to be in your content area. If you're very lucky they'll find you, if not, keep your ears and eyes open - you'll find someone on staff who will be a great resource and sounding board for you.

    Find a graceful exit from negativity - it is surprisingly contagious.

    Don't worry about outshining others - do your absolute best in your classroom - just let people discover your talents rather than talking about them :)

    Write everything down. How long it actually takes you to teach a lesson, reflections on what you'd do better next time, tips, you name it. I like to keep a composition notebook on my desk (I take it to meetings even) to jot these things down.

    Keep breathing, keep your sense of humor :)

    And a piece of advice that I value now, but made no sense to me at the time:

    Always remember, they are kids, and they are going to want to get your goat. Let them have it. :) Just don't let them get your donkey.
     
  5. flesteach

    flesteach Rookie

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    I call it the black hole of negativity. I hung out in there just so I would know what is going on. But you have to keep a good perspective. I came from Corporate America, working 60 hrs a week for peanuts, so CEOs could get rich, so when I hear the teachers complain about students , administration, or NCLB, I just laugh and thank God that I am where I am today. They have no idea!!!!!
     
  6. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jul 17, 2007

    Don't assume that what you were taught in college is absolutely correct. It may be, sometimes. But there's something to be said for on the job experience and knowing the kids you teach.

    Be VERY aware of deadlines. Administrators HATE missed deadlines. When you get your school calendar, make note of the dates you need to know and mark them in your plan book. (Oct 12: progress grades due type of stuff.)

    I agree with the advice about the mentor. After a week or so you'll notice the teachers who avoid the gossip, are open and friendly, and have the respect of the kids and the other teachers. Those are the teachers you want to model yourself after and ask for help.

    Check your mailbox several times a day. It's the main way of communicating with teachers.

    Don't EVER replace the toner in the machine until you've been shown how. Honest.

    I don't agree with the advice to avoid the faculty room. It's a wonderful source of all sorts of info, on the upcoming assembly, on things related to your school and the administration. Just listen a while to get the lay of the land. After a week or so, hit Dunkin Donuts and bring in a box of muchkins. It will make such a difference. Instead of being "just another newbie" you'll be "that nice young English teacher."

    Enjoy!! You're about to start the ride of your life. Hold on to your hat and enjoy the ride.
     
  7. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    Jul 17, 2007

    Ask questions when you have them!!!! Nobody "looks down on you" when you don't have all the answers, because none of us have all the answers. I have had questions every single year I've taught, and I'm sure that will continue until I retire!
    Also, I tend to disagree about avoiding the lounge, but I guess that depends on your school. At my school, the last thing we want to discuss in the lounge is the students---that's our downtime and we enjoy "adult" conversations that don't revolve around Johnny.
    I would also definitely encourage you to make friends on the staff. Get to know them outside the classroom and let them get to know you on a personal level as well.
     
  8. ayotte04

    ayotte04 Comrade

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    See I've always been told to GO to the teachers lounge, not to gossip, but to show your face and be a team player. So you don't...isolate and hermit yourself (ha...I just verbed that noun).
     
  9. ayotte04

    ayotte04 Comrade

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    Jul 17, 2007

     
  10. MsWK

    MsWK Habitué

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    Jul 17, 2007

    Listen a lot during your first couple weeks--to & about whom people are talking. It takes a good three months to really start figuring out the system, so be as positive, neutral, and humble as possible. That doesn't mean let people walk all over you, but do try not to "take sides."
     
  11. ayotte04

    ayotte04 Comrade

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    Don't EVER replace the toner in the machine until you've been shown how. Honest.

    That is perfect! I sometimes pretend to be the copy machine fixer, cuz I don't want to bother people with my problems so I try to do it myself. Definately not worth it. There's a reason why my certification is in teaching, not Xeroxing. Ha!

    Thanks for the reminder.
     
  12. ayotte04

    ayotte04 Comrade

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    Yes also a great point...food is the way to a teacher's heart right? Ok. dunkin donuts. Got it...
     
  13. ayotte04

    ayotte04 Comrade

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    Jul 17, 2007

    Wow...all these words from the wise teachers. Thanks...these are great. keep them coming
     
  14. flesteach

    flesteach Rookie

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    Make sure you greet everyone you see in the morning with a great hello to start the day. It will show your professionalism.
     
  15. ayotte04

    ayotte04 Comrade

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    Yes. a little smile goes a long way right? Great point!
     
  16. Weazy

    Weazy Comrade

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    Jul 17, 2007

    Lots of good advice! Last year was my first year. I went to the lounge everyday for lunch because it is nice to get away from your room for a little while. In my school we really don't have anywhere else to go. Ears open, mouth closed! You learn very quickly who the complainers are. Sometimes it is hard to just sit and listen, but I never added my two cents. We have one teacher and in this person's opinion, NOBODY in the school--especially administration--can do anything correctly. Don't let these type of people get you down. Feel sorry for them. They will never enjoy what they do because they are too busy criticizing everybody else.

    Leave school prepared for the next day, and come to school a little early so you are not rushed.

    Find a mentor. Our state requires mentors, and mine was great! We bounced ideas off of each other all the time. Expect your plans to go awry sometimes. Expect the kids to challenge YOU. Remember, it is easier to be strict in the beginning and ease up a little. It is basically impossible to start out laid back and "cool" and then expect the kids to listen to you when you have to crack down because they have taken advantage...and they will. Thekids are great to work with, but you can't be their friend, they have friends, they need role models and people they can count on.

    I don't know who you are, but I'm excited for you. Just thinking about your first year brings back wonderful memories of my first year. I hope my second year goes as well as my first.
     
  17. Mrs. R.

    Mrs. R. Connoisseur

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    Be open and friendly. Listen to advice, even if you don't take it. Our principal (gone now, thank goodness) told the newbies that they were the "silent revolution" and they should not listen to any of the veteran teachers in the building. She did a great job of getting those kids to completely alienate their teammates and mentors. Unfortunately, those kids also learned quickly who had their backs when they made mistakes or had run-ins with parents. Guess what? It wasn't the principal.
    I love mentoring new teachers. They teach me just as much I as I teach them.
     
  18. Pencil Monkey

    Pencil Monkey Devotee

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    Jul 17, 2007

    if you have to make your own copies, do so a week in advance. They copy machine always seems to break down when you need/want it the most. If you have a secretary that does it, make sure you have your papers to her about a week in advance as well.

    Be willing to change your plan and be flexible.

    Have a backup plan for anything and everything. (my first year we lost power in my wing of the building and I happened to have a supply of flashlights in my closet)

    Make it a point to smile and chit-chat to fellow teachers even if you don't like them.

    Be sure to find out what your weakest area is, and focus on improving it, show growth and document it.
     
  19. tutor1982

    tutor1982 Rookie

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    Just be sure you don't let what the others are saying in the lounge form YOUR opinions of those people about whom they are talking. Give everyone a fair chance!
     
  20. born2teach84

    born2teach84 Comrade

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    "I know we are supposed to keep our mouths shut, stay as neutral as possible, and not try to outshine others."

    I didn't do that this year. I wasn't my intention to go out and not do those things but I am the person that does to much. I want to help everyone and learn as much as I can. It was my first and I was active as I could. I feel like the more initiative you take the more people will see you as being serious. During staff meetings I would speak up if something wasn't right or if I thought something needed to be said. I was cautious of others and listened all the time but I still have a brain and I wanted to make sure people saw all the sides. There were times where I probably should have backed off but I gained alot of respect this year. I have alot of teachers complimented my initiative and ability to be self-motivated. I also always ASKED QUESTIONS!! My VP would laugh because at almost every staff meeting I would end up with question. I always want to make sure I leave a meeting understanding everything that is said. I would say to make sure to not be so unoticed that when recomendations come around people aren't confused about who you are. You want people to see you as someone who wants to be good at what you do and that you want to be the best teacher you can be. I was working with other first year teachers who just sat in corner and didn't do anything extra and they were the ones that got moved and were the ones that people didn't really know much about. Just my thought...for what it is worth since this will be my second year. :)
     
  21. mstnteacherlady

    mstnteacherlady Cohort

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    ayotte04, thanks for posting this! I will be starting my first FULL year in August and I've read alot of good advice so far!
    Also, thanks to all the teachers who are willing to help us put our best foot forward! :D
     
  22. IowaLA

    IowaLA Rookie

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    Even though I will be a first year teacher as well, I have been subbing for awhile and my helpful hint as well is:

    befriend the secretary, support staff, and janitors.

    It will make your life easier, I "almost" guarantee it.

    I love all the advice as well! It is comforting going into the first year!
     
  23. Bonnie gr. 2

    Bonnie gr. 2 Companion

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    Jul 17, 2007

    I agree with asking questions if there is something you don't understand. Be helpful. The secretary, custodian, and tech person can be a big help to you. Check your mailbox and school e-mail. It's ok to go to the teachers' lounge because you can get a lot of information there and make friends. But evaulate what you here. Yes, some is gossip but some of what you hear can help. Sometimes finding out about where your students are coming from can help you help them. Be friendly. And enjoy your first year!
     
  24. TXTeacher4

    TXTeacher4 Companion

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    Be careful when trusting other teachers. Always imagine that the person you are talking to is either going to tell the principal or someone else what you said. Even if you think they would NEVER tell anyone what you said, they probably will. You don't want to be the topic of happy hour.

    I wish I would have done that my first year!!! I had to learn the hard way.
     
  25. ayotte04

    ayotte04 Comrade

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    Jul 17, 2007

    sorry u learned the hard way. but i appreciate you sharing
     
  26. yclark

    yclark Comrade

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    Jul 18, 2007

    The best advice, already stated, is ask questions. In my first job, I asked questions and no one answered. I felt totally alone. I just figured, well the kids went here last year, they know the routine so I'll watch them. BIG MISTAKE, they ran over me and it was hell getting things under control. (I vowed that no one else would feel that way if I could help it so now I make sure to seek out the newbies to welcome them and let them know they can come and ask me anything.)

    The second piece of advice... have a procedure for everything that you want done and then TEACH it. (Ask others how the things outside the classroom are done, like the lunchroom line.) Determine how you want everything done in your room, like sharpening pencils and lining up. It all goes back to my first paragraph. Know what your expectations are and then tell the kids.

    Thirdly, organize. You are going to be inundated with papers and notes. Have a system in place ahead of time. In our school, parents sign a million papers and we have to have them all accessible if someone asks, which they rarely do, but I have them. Go ahead and make folders for everything.
     
  27. ITeach4Him

    ITeach4Him Comrade

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    Jul 18, 2007

    I'm starting my 2nd year and I was DETERMINED to have a great first year.:D I kept a smile on my face and even when others complained to me, I didn't join in. I just listened and then went on my merry way. I would go through the hall happy and you are surprised at how many will be happy and greet you back just because you do this! :angel:

    Also, DO ask questions when you have them, but DON'T feel obligated to do what is suggested. Do what you will know is best for your students after you get to know them. I found myself worrying about content so much in the beginning and I finally loosened up, gave myself room to grow and did the best I could with what I had. The kids did well, I did well and I felt like it was a wonderful year! I wish all you new "newbies" the best. I'm changing schools this year for my 2nd year and feel like a newbie again! ;)
     
  28. flesteach

    flesteach Rookie

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    I am a binder and sheet protector nut. I have a binder for everything, and dividers in those for each subtopic in that topic. Make sense? :confused:
    Example:
    1.Evaluations and Mentoring
    2.Professional Development ( with each workshop divided)
    3.Lesson Plans ( divided by 6 weeks)
    4.TEP- I am working on my masters so all my university stuff is in a BIG FAT folder divided into classroom management, communication, models of instruction, organization, motivational help( everyone has crummy days), theories and research, etc
    5.Spanish- my undergrad..so anything language related goes in here to help me stay fluent
    6. Activities- I keep one master copy of each handout divided by topics
    and so on

    I wish I could get my house this organized!!!!
     
  29. ayotte04

    ayotte04 Comrade

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    Yay another binder and sheet protector nut! cheers!
     
  30. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    Jul 18, 2007

    I haven't seen this yet. Make friends (or at least stay very civil) with the secretary and the custodian. You'll be thankful you did when you need to know what's going on in the building or a child is throwing up.
     
  31. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Jul 18, 2007

    I'd listen more than talk . . . so you get to know who is who around the school. Don't be afraid to ask questions, too. That's one of the questions we ask new teachers at interviews, "When you're having a bad day or difficulties with something, what do you do?" We don't want them trying to figure it all out themselves or crying about being stressed out when they go home at night. We want them to ASK.

    If you're doing more listening than talking, you'll quickly learn who are the good people to ask!

    I like to think I'm easy to get along with, but we had one new teacher that absolutely rubbed me wrong every time we talked. The first day I met her, she came into my room and proceeded to tell me how I should be arranging my room. I don't claim to know the best ways to do everything, but I do think I have a good handle on how things work for ME in my room. She continued in that "I know how to do everything better than you do" mode for two years . . . and just about killed us all. But, I think that was just her personality more than anything.
     
  32. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Jul 18, 2007

    Last year was my first year.

    Don't gossip. I definitely agree that you should keep your ears open and your mouth shut, especially when it comes to school gossip. I think it's good to know what's going on, but I never contribute to the mess or remain very close to it.

    Offer to help out on a low-key committee or two. It shows that you are a team player and want to help make the school as great as it can be, but that you aren't in there to ruffle any feathers. I was on the tardy committee (where we planned and implemented a new tardy policy) and the teacher advisory committee (where we addressed various teacher concerns ranging from inconsistent discipline policies in the deans' office to the coffee machine always being broken). I learned A LOT about the ropes and how to get things accomplished like who you should talk to and how you should phrase your requests.

    Find a mentor teacher who can help you along the way.

    Don't be afraid to ask questions. Most people would rather answer your question today than clean up after you tomorrow.

    BE NICE TO THE SECRETARY! He/she can make your life heaven or hell. Seriously. I'm totally not exaggerating about this one.

    Say hello to all the teachers you see in the hall/mailroom/lounge. Everyone prefers a friendly person to a grump, and you'll look like a grump if you don't say hello.

    Pay attention to deadlines. At our school we have a very short amount of time each quarter to input grades. If you don't get it done on time, it's a huge hassle for your admin and the registrar and everyone gets upset.

    Find a teacher friend with whom you can socialize. It's nice to be able to count on your friend to meet you for drinks after school when you've had a rough day. Bring Starbucks for that person once in a while and they'll probably reciprocate--usually on a day when you need it the most. Teacher friends usually have a strange psychic connection!

    Don't hole up in your room. Go to those happy hour outings on Friday afternoons with the other teachers. If you smoke (YUCK!), do it with the other teachers who smoke. Have lunch in the faculty lounge. (Just avoid the gossip if you do!)

    Don't listen to those negative teachers who complain about everything. Their attitudes can be contagious. Either walk away or laugh and say that you're still new and haven't yet become disenfranchised.
     
  33. TulipsGirl

    TulipsGirl Cohort

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    Jul 18, 2007

    Here is what I learned my first year: (I know that a lot of this is redundant, but I feel like I'm making this list for myself as much as I'm making it for the posters who ask for it!)

    1) definitely find a mentor. She saved my life more than once last year. The principal suggested that I get in touch with her because she has a "sharing mentality" - she loves to share her materials, loves to keep herself interested in what she teaches( even though she's been doing it for 30 years) and is responsible. Find out who that person in your school is. And reciprocate when you can. Found a cute project you know she would love? Show it to her and offer to photocopy it for her class if she wants.

    2) Keep on top of deadlines. If you don't and everybody else does, you'll stand out as irresponsible. If you do and nobody else does (unlikely), you'll stand out as SUPER RESPONSIBLE! Can't lose.

    3)You do NOT need to make kids feel all cushy and happy by letting them get away with stuff that you're not okay with - no matter how young they are. You DO need to help them become independent, confident and responsible for their actions. I love this advice I saw by another poster on a different thread: "Mean what you say! Say what you mean! Don't be mean when you say it!"

    4) you can not expect kids to know how you want something done, unless you teach it to them first. If you don't take time to teach them what YOU want, they'll do it the way they want to do it. Not because they are malicious, simply because they can't read your mind.

    5) DON'T GOSSIP. This is not a hard and fast rule, but I have found that some people who gossip to you have no problem gossipping about you. So when speaking to someone who gossips, keep it friendly, keep it neutral. It's tempting to agree with whatever the person is talking about because, as the new kid on the block, you want to be on everyone's good side. It's so much better not to take sides. Without saying a word, people will know you as someone who just doesn't get mixed up in these things. It's a good reputation to have.

    That's all I can think of right now, but I'm positive there are more. The first year, I think we learn just as much as the students do.
     
  34. Maryhf

    Maryhf Connoisseur

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    Jul 18, 2007

    Last year was my first at the school and I really wish I had paid more attention to names when I was introduced to other teachers and staff. I was so concerned with my curriculum and my students that I forgot everyone around me. They were very understanding, but I regret it anyway.
     
  35. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    Jul 18, 2007

    A tip we were told...

    2 people you do not want to tick off... the secretary and the custodian! REMEMBER THOSE TWO!

    Be super nice to the secretary that way if you screw up any paperwork she will be more willing to help you out.

    Be super nice to the custodian and he/she might do extra things for you that they wouldn't do for other teachers because they've ticked them off in one way shape or form... lol.
     
  36. ayotte04

    ayotte04 Comrade

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    Jul 18, 2007

    Awesome awesome and awesome ideas all. Yes Mary...i'm horrible with names...I may have to make flashcards of the staff. haha!
     
  37. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    Jul 18, 2007

    Definitely avoid the teacher's lounge.

    Remember some teachers will be envious of newer teachers. I never understood this, especially for those not content with themselves.

    And remember, too, you CAN seek the advice of veterans and avoid stepping on their toes in the process. :)
     
  38. Teacher 218

    Teacher 218 Rookie

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    Jul 18, 2007

    For what it's worth, here are a few of my thoughts for you. Welcome to teaching!

    Appreciate everyone and don't look down on anyone. It takes the whole village to make the school run smoothly.

    Ask questions and then listen to the answers.

    If you come up with an idea that you think is really extraordinary, share it, or at least run it by someone else to see what they think. They may be able to help with any pitfalls or schools issues that might get in the way, or they may just pat you on your back and tell you how awsome it is.

    Log everything. I know it seems overwhelming, but you'll be glad you did. Use dates and times. Stay in touch with parents too. Keep copies of emails and notes of phone conversations.

    Keep a folder in your desk for good stuff. I put good notes, cards, letters, etc. in mine. Whenever I need a pick-me-up, I look through it. It never fails to give me a smile or giggle.

    Know your chain of command. By that I mean, know what you take to your department chair versus your principal.

    Don't be afraid to make mistakes, even in front of the kids. Admit that you're human and use it as a learning experience. They'll learn that making mistakes is okay, and better yet, admitting them, fixing them, and learning from them is a sign of maturity.

    Most importantly, enjoy every day. Some days will be stressful, but in the long run, you've got one of the best jobs around. The rewards of teaching far outweigh the once in a while yucky things that happen.
     
  39. gmer22

    gmer22 Rookie

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    Jul 18, 2007

    Ok this is going to be my first year teaching also and this is all really great advice. I just wish I remember it when it matters.

    I have one more question concerning the first year...what about the kids? How do you keep the classroom under control. I am going to be teaching 3rd grade but some of the kids are almost my height already and I feel like they are going to walk all over me. I am scared I won't be able to keep the kids under control. What is your best advice?
     
  40. ayotte04

    ayotte04 Comrade

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    Jul 18, 2007

    GMER,

    I recommend reposting that question under the "behavior management" discussion board. you might get better responses there.
     
  41. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    Jul 18, 2007

    gmer22: Be confident! Kids can smell fear--if they think you're nervous and you will let them get away with something, they will definitely try it. It's all about having a presence in the room that lets them know you care about them, but you mean business--and that business is learning.
     
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