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October 10, 2014 New Teacher Survival Kit By Rhonda Stewart
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    Lately, I've been doing a lot of thinking about new teachers and how best to give them help and support. In my previous posts, "Teacher Mentoring, an Introduction," I offer some tools and tips to help make a new teacher feel welcome and how to optimize your time together. In "Teacher Mentoring From the New Teacher's Point of View," I listened to and shared ideas of my former mentee, Corrine and current mentee, Jaslyn. Now it's time to tackle an easy and important way to welcome new teachers to your school: a new teacher survival kit.

    As I was creating this kit, I had to remember to keep it simple. It was so easy to go overboard with ideas and resources. I had to remind myself that the kit is for new teachers and I don't want to overwhelm them. So, with Corrine and Jaslyn in mind, I decided to keep my version of a survival kit simple. I also adjusted the kit to include requests that came from Jaslyn.

    In creating the kit, I had a self-revelation about my teaching style. I realized that I am still sort of a “dinosaur.” This became most apparent when I was identifying my resources. I immediately would produce a hard copy and then would think — what about the electronic version? So, wherever possible I am including electronic versions of resources for the tool kit. Whether you are a new teacher using the kit or a veteran, helping to pave the way, I hope the kit is helpful.


    New Teacher’s Survival Kit

    School Calendar

    My school district has our entire year online. Keeping with the idea to not overwhelm the mentee, I transferred the information from the district calendar onto a calendar template. Now here comes my awakening and my moving away from my previous dinosaur life — Google Calendar. I printed a copy for Jaslyn to place in the kit, but I will also share this via Google Docs. Moving forward, I will place important dates on the calendar to give Jaslyn a heads-up. I am also thinking that we can work on the calendar together (i.e. scheduling classroom visits).


    General Resources

    The New Teacher section on Scholastic corrals an amazing array of resources for new teachers from time management tips to dealing with behavior problems. They also include a New Teacher Survival Guide that is broken down by month to give you timely resources when you need it. Look for report card writing strategies, parent-teacher conference ideas, and ways to avoid stress around the holidays!

    Classroom Management

    Remember to work in conjunction with your school’s discipline plan. My school uses the PBS — Positive Behavior Support System — where students are recognized for positive behaviors. A great resource to pull ideas from the middle school approach is Classroom Management — 24 Strategies Every Teacher Needs to Knowwritten by David Adamson. The author‘s approach is very easy to follow and very easy to implement in the classroom. It is one of my favorite go-to books.

    Lesson Planning

    Work with your colleagues! Form a small study group and plan together. Your colleagues are the BEST resource to use for lesson planning. Helpful websites that can be used to support you as you plan your lessons:

    This is just a sampling of websites. There are just too many to list.

    Local Resources

    I tried to think of those staff members that a new teacher would need to contact and came up with this Contact List. New teachers, please remember to follow the chain of command in your building and for your district. When in doubt, check with your mentor.

    Preparing for an Absence

    Create a Substitute Folder using tips and resources from one of my previous blog posts, "Your Substitute Teacher Folder Checklist," to ensure that learning takes place during your absence. Setting this up ahead of time will give you some piece of mind and one less item to worry about.



    Classroom Design and Organization

    I rely on my classroom makeover guru, Cara Holzer. But for those of you who don’t have a classroom guru, try Pinterest! You can find some great ideas to make your classrooms look amazing. As for organizing tips, I defer to fellow blogger Alycia, as well as several stellar bloggers included in this "Best of Blogs: Classroom Organization" round-up of posts.

    Grading Systems

    This was my last bit of clinging onto my “dinosaur” life. I added a hard copy of a classroom grading aid. I even laminated it. Yes I know — there are online grading systems and some districts have them set up for their teachers. But for the few holdouts, this one is for you!


    Final Note

    What would a new teacher’s survival kit be without chocolate, a stress ball, and tissues? For all of the new teachers — have a great first year and I hope that you will find the survival kit helpful!


    Pearls of WisdomAll teachers: Take care of yourself. Be sure to eat right, exercise, remember to drink water and get plently of rest to keep your immune system in good working order.


    What would you include in your survival kit? As always please share- I love reading your comments!


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