Where to start as a first year teacher?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by bewlove, May 17, 2014.

  1. bewlove

    bewlove Companion

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    May 17, 2014

    Hey, everyone! I'm so happy to say that I've just accepted a job as a fourth grade teacher! I graduated last weekend, so this is a big deal!!! :)

    I was ecstatic for a couple of days. Now, I'm terrified. Where do I begin? I have a whole classroom with nothing in it! I don't know yet if I will be self contained, departmentalized, or team teaching. My P said I can meet with the other 4th grade teachers towards mid-summer and we can decide....this makes it difficult to start planning my classroom set up. So my question is, what can I do to get started? I don't want to wait and only have a couple weeks left to get everything. Any suggestions for me? Are there grade books, lesson books, desk organization, or anything I should go ahead and do? It sounds like I won't get a key to my classroom until sometime in July, but I'm ready to get this ball rolling!!!

    So, my question is, what are your tips for a new teacher who has no idea what to expect from this upcoming year? Thanks!!!
     
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  3. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    May 17, 2014

    Congratulations! I love your enthusiasm! I found out today that I am switching grades and immediately started thinking about the changes I'm going to make.

    I was a first year teacher not too long ago, and I can honestly say that most of the prepping and planning I did over the summer before I started turned out to be useless. Until you can get into the physical space and meet your kiddos, there isn't much you can do. I would get the curricular outcomes you will be expected to teach and any teacher resources that are available to help you get the 'big picture' for your grade.

    It's okay if your classroom isn't 'full' at the beginning of the year. I would make sure you have level appropriate books (and a WIDE range, high and low) available and some basic math manipulatives. Garage sales and thrift stores are great places to find the basics - books, dice, games, etc. Your physical space will grow and evolve as you discover what works best for you (and when you know your spending budget for the year!).

    Until you know more specifics about your position - self contained, departmentalized or team teaching, I would hold off on doing too much. Yup, it will feel like a mad scramble at the end of summer, but that's how it always is anyway!

    Again, congratulations! There is nothing quite like the 1st year! Enjoy your summer because you will spend the 10 months after it totally immersed in school!
     
  4. joeschmoe

    joeschmoe Companion

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    May 17, 2014



    Plan, but don't be surprised if your plan changes. Be flexible. ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY GO DOWN HARD on your students the first few weeks. Be that teacher that the kids will talk about being mean or you will regret it. Kids at that age need to know early on that you mean business or the rest of your year could be lost. It's difficult to re-train them if you don't do it right the first time. Once you got them wrapped tightly around your finger, then you can start to ease a bit. Don't do it the other way around!!!
     
  5. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    May 17, 2014

    Yes, one thing you can do is read a book or 2 on classroom management. I recommend "The First Days of School" by Harry Wong.
     
  6. AlexaD

    AlexaD Companion

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    May 17, 2014

    Congrats! I was in your shoes last year, and am just finishing up my first year in fourth grade.

    One of the best things I did was get my classroom library ready. The kids have used it all year and could never tell me they didn't have something to read with my library being right there in the room.

    I also visited the Dollar Tree and Target and shopped online for good deals for things that I would need.

    I got my classroom management plan ready. This absolutely is critical for success. It is really hard to go in as a newbie, when you are still learning where everything is and who everyone is, and the kids WILL try to take advantage of your "newness." So when you give a direction, mean it, and don't hesitate to make them practice, practice, practice the routines until they are the way you want them to be. They will get the message that you mean business and will respect you for it.

    And...the first year is hard. Not going to lie. There have been moments where I have been really overwhelmed, bummed about things that didn't go just right in my room, and soooo tired out, but it a natural part of your first year of teaching.

    I wasn't as organized this year as I would have liked, so try to get a really good organizational system going. I am going to work on mine for next year.

    Finally, this age group is really great. I have seen so much growth in them this year. They came in immature and silly, and most of them are leaving as much more independent and responsible students, which I am really proud of. They definitely still like to please, and they still like art projects and things like that. The curriculum in 4th is really fun, too.

    Good luck and don't hesitate to ask more questions as you go along!
     
  7. Robert Cox12

    Robert Cox12 Rookie

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    May 19, 2014

    havent find job yet!
    Lucky you!
    I want some advices related to this aspect as well
    Please help me too
     
  8. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    May 19, 2014

    Alternatively, love your kids and treat them with discipline and respect. The first day(s) mean more than you can ever imagine for your year. Be yourself. Don't listen to me. If you aren't authentic no amount of advice will matter.

    For reading, I definitely echo The First Days of School (though do not take it as Gospel) and would add Teach like a PIRATE, The Essential 55 and Everything Bad is Good For You.
     
  9. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    May 19, 2014

    Yeah, I'm not a fan of the whole "don't smile til Christmas" philosophy. I smile and laugh every single day with my kids because that's my personality. Be you. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't have clear expectations and consequences, though. You can be fun and loving and still be consistent and fair. That's what makes a good discipline plan.
     
  10. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    May 19, 2014

    My best advice: As hard as it is, resist going out and buying a bunch of expensive stuff. Yes, go get yourself a good planner, and a few fun things, but don't go crazy. No matter how much time you have, you won't know what you REALLY need until you've been in the trenches.

    My next best advice: Make a blank calendar, for each month of the year, and include space for what you want to teach and when, and as the year goes on, make notes of what you actually taught and when. These will likely be vastly different. At the end of the year, you'll be able to go back and look at what worked and what didn't. This will help TREMENDOUSLY with your planning for next year.

    Then, next summer, you'll be ready to go out and start buying stuff. You'll know what bulletin board stuff will work best, what books you want to have, etc. Most likely, during your first year, your fellow teachers will start giving you stuff, and there is always a "garage sale" at the beginning and end of the year where teachers put out things they aren't using in the lounge for the taking. Take advantage of that! You might end up putting some things back the following year, but it will be nice to see what is out there.

    My third best advice: Don't immediately start throwing stuff away in your classroom. I chose a cupboard a month, and carefully sorted through each, one at a time. I didn't throw anything away until the end of the year, when I knew what could come in handy and what I wouldn't want to use.

    Your first year is really a big experiment. You'll be in survival mode, and your job is to do the best you can while learning as much as you can. So many times I wished I could go back in time to my first year-I had the best class ever that first year, and sometimes I would look back and think how in the world did I not screw them up?? I wish I could have them when I knew something!

    But, for now...go find your teacher store, and splurge a little. Buy a fun border or two, maybe some letters. Motivational posters are always fun and go with any décor you decide on. Then hit Pinterest-what a wealth of cool classroom activities you can find there. Start thinking about the first week-since you don't know your curriculum just yet, start planning how you want your classroom to operate. Make your procedures. Think about everything-how do you want them to line up? How do you want them to get ready to go home? How do you want them to turn in papers? What is your homework policy? These types of things aren't necessarily dependent on what you have to teach, but I always found that once I had those policies nailed down, I could relax a little then focus on curriculum.

    As soon as possible, find out what curriculum you will be teaching (you know that already). In the grand scheme of things, nothing else matters until you know your curriculum COLD. But until you can do that, doing these things will help calm your nerves. :)
     
  11. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    May 20, 2014

    If you only know your grade level but not specifically what you will be teaching, there isn't much curriculum planning you can do. Fourth grade is typically when state history is taught, so you might want to start doing some research on that.

    Otherwise, my advice would be to read books about classroom management. I was never a huge fan of Wong. However, there is a book called The First Six Weeks of School I suggest you read. A couple of others I like are Teaching with Love & Logic and Teach Outside the Box (that one is more secondary-based, but it is a great motivator). Also, find out if the district where you will be teaching expects you to take any sort of training over the summer and what kinds of curriculum and discipline programs the school uses.
     
  12. bewlove

    bewlove Companion

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    May 24, 2014

    Thanks so much everyone!!!! I really appreciate all of your advice. I feel pretty comfortable with classroom management because I have worked in a school for the last 3 years with large groups of kids, but I know it will be different in my own classroom and I know that I need a plan! The problem is, if I am self contained, I want to use a clip up chart or something of that nature. If I am departmentalized and have four groups of kids coming into my room each day, obviously the clip-up chart won't work, and I will have to think of something else. I met another fourth grade teacher while I was viewing the school, and she was SO friendly. Do you think it would be okay to shoot her an email asking her what she would recommend for me to get a jump start on?

    Thanks again for your advice. I want to work on classroom procedures, but once again, since I don't know if I will have several groups a day, or only one group, or possibly just two groups......I don't really know what those procedures will be.
     
  13. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    May 24, 2014

    What you could start doing: work on your teacher website, start coming up with a solid classroom management plan, think about the procedures and routines you want. What do students do with finished work_ Can they get up for water? Will you have a silent signal for when they need to go to the bathroom?? Those are the things that you don´t want to be left figuring out when they are there.
     
  14. Aussiegirl

    Aussiegirl Habitué

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    Jun 9, 2014

    "Your first year is really a big experiment. You'll be in survival mode, and your job is to do the best you can while learning as much as you can. So many times I wished I could go back in time to my first year-I had the best class ever that first year, and sometimes I would look back and think how in the world did I not screw them up?? I wish I could have them when I knew something!"

    My experience exactly! I would also say spend little, scavenge the rest, collect books at garage sales/GoodWill/etc. I totally agree about doing a general overview planning for the year - not actual lessons for the most part - maybe your first few days. I spent the whole summer writing plans - it was a waste. The books recommended here are great. My biggest piece of advice, and this is where I went off kilter that first year, don't take their comments, attitudes, work ethic, etc., personally. Oh, also, I signed up for classes, seminars - be selective. I remember little of what I learned there, and I was overwhelmed. I'm entering my ninth year and love what I do - I just miss that first group of students.
     
  15. kassrose

    kassrose Companion

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    Jun 9, 2014

    Familiarize yourself with state standards

    You should familiarize yourself with 4th grade state standards. It would also be a good idea to look over 3rd and 5th, so you can see what they should have previously learned and where they are expected to be once they leave you. Also, you principal/instructional coach should be able to get you teacher's editions of your textbooks, which would be helpful for you to get used to the format.
     
  16. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    Jun 9, 2014

    Best advice for new teachers ...

    Hold onto what you feel right now; the sense of excitement, the enthusiasm, the pride, the determination to succeed, and all of the positive vibes you're currently feeling.

    Try to reach back and remember these feelings, the goals you've set for yourself and the importance of what you're doing whenever things get tough. Things will get tough and at times you may feel like you won't make it, so just hold onto the reasons why you're teaching and the endless possibilities of what you can accomplish. Also, celebrate your successes because too often, no one else will.
     
  17. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Jun 9, 2014

    This thread is making me smile.

    I clearly remember the excitement I felt as a brand new teacher! :thumb:
     

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