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September 7, 2016 New Teachers: Getting Started By Rhonda Stewart
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    In September 2015, I was paired with a student teacher, Jaclyn Corsini. It was an amazing learning experience not just for her, but for me as well. She was extremely helpful with my evolution into technology, and working with her made me reflect on my teaching career and how I am drawn to mentoring and collaborating with new teachers.

    At the end of her assignment, I asked Jaclyn to have a conversation with her fellow classmates as they embark upon their new career as educators. I wanted her to have honest conversations with her cohorts with a focus on what would be the concerns of a new teacher. We've all heard the saying, “Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it." Well, this really applied to my request of this group of budding teachers. There were so many concerns to address that I decided to select the top five that I thought would have the greatest impact at the beginning of the school year.

    So even though many of you have already started school, don’t fret, help is on the way! It is my wish that the following information/advice will help make your first year not where you survive, but thrive in your teaching!

     

    New Teacher Concerns  

    Q1: How do you establish classroom routines?

    • Establishing class routines is vital. Be consistent! Say what you mean and mean what you say!  

    • Make sure that you are prepared; be clear on the subject matter that you are teaching. Have your materials ready. This will help you stay focused on the content and your students and limit opportunities for your students to go off task.

    • Model the behavior that you want to see from your students. Set expectations for how to talk to each other. You are setting the tone for developing the class community.

    • Keep the procedures short and sweet. You want the students to be successful. For example, raise your hand to speak, eyes and ears on whoever is teaching (teacher or student), and keep your hands and feet to yourself. 

    • I use Smart Classroom Management as a resource to fine-tune my classroom management. They have great ideas and tips that are easy to implement into class systems.

     

    Q2: Where do you find good resources/websites to help with lesson planning?

    I must admit that I am just a little biased — I love Scholastic.com. For me, it is a one-stop resource for everything that involves teaching. You can find anything from interactive field trips to support your instruction, to contests to keep your students engaged, as well as web based activities and (of course) advice from Scholastic Top Teaching Bloggers. They have even compiled a list for the best websites for teachers. 

     

    Q3: How do you make time for yourself to reflect?

    This is something that many in our profession struggle with. It is imperative that you carve out time in your day to do this. If you need to make an appointment with yourself, do so! I make time to reflect by either coming in a few minutes early or staying a few minutes past my work day to reflect on how the day is going or what needs to be changed. I also close and sometimes, lock my door and turn off the lights, so that no one will think that I am in the classroom. This gives me that “private” time that I need to gather my thoughts. As a newbie, I know that it can be difficult to say "no" or "not right now" or “I need a few minutes" to a colleague. So instead, work out a signal to put on your door to let your colleagues know that you are in your “Do Not Disturb Zone."

     

    Q4: Where do you get free/inexpensive books/materials for the classroom?

     

    • Go online — Set up a Donors Choose or GoFundMe page

    • Apply for a grant — Check with your local, state or national teacher association. There are many opporunities throughout the year to apply for grants that will enhance your classroom and your teaching. 

    • Garage sales — People are generous when they find out that you are buying for your students.

    • Scholastic Reading Clubs — It’s a win/win. When your students order books, you have the opportunity to get free books for your classroom. You also accumulate bonus points that you can use with the bonus catalog to acquire other supplies for your classroom.

    •  Other teachers —Teachers who are moving classrooms or retiring will be looking for ways to downsize. 

    Q5: How do you keep organized?

    Develop a system that works for you. Decide on where you want to put your materials. Color coding materials works for teachers who teach many different subjects to one class as well as for the teacher who teaches one subject to different groups of students. I label materials in my classroom. I use Scholastic’s Word Workshop (free online tool) to create my labels for my classroom. Another tip: try visiting other classrooms. You might find a technique that you could integrate into your classroom.

    This year at new teacher orientation, my district's teacher association distributed New Teacher Survival Jars to welcome and show support for the new staff. Each jar contained the following:

    New Teacher Survival Kit

    Rubber Bands: To remind you to always be flexible

    Paper Clips: To help you to hold it together

    Band-Aids: For when you need a little T.L.C.

    Highlighter: So your day is always bright

    Ink Joy Pen: To remind you to find the JOY in all that you do

    Tissues: To wipe away the tears of sadness and joy

    Eraser: To remind you everyone makes mistakes

    Hand Sanitizer: To keep everyone healthy and happy

    Starburst: For a burst of energy when you need it the most

    Stickers: To remind you we all stick together

    Chewing gum: Remember if you stick with it, you can accomplish anything

    A Sharpie Marker: To encourage you to make your mark

    Peppermint Patty: Always remember, you are worth a “mint” to your students 

     

     What a great way to start the year!

    Pearls of Wisdom — Ask for help. Please do not wait until you are feeling overwhelmed and over stressed. If you have concerns or are unsure of a policy or procedure, ask a colleague. If you are fortune enough to have a mentor, pick their brain! If not, try to pair up with a colleague on your grade level or content area as your go-to for assistance.

     

    In September 2015, I was paired with a student teacher, Jaclyn Corsini. It was an amazing learning experience not just for her, but for me as well. She was extremely helpful with my evolution into technology, and working with her made me reflect on my teaching career and how I am drawn to mentoring and collaborating with new teachers.

    At the end of her assignment, I asked Jaclyn to have a conversation with her fellow classmates as they embark upon their new career as educators. I wanted her to have honest conversations with her cohorts with a focus on what would be the concerns of a new teacher. We've all heard the saying, “Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it." Well, this really applied to my request of this group of budding teachers. There were so many concerns to address that I decided to select the top five that I thought would have the greatest impact at the beginning of the school year.

    So even though many of you have already started school, don’t fret, help is on the way! It is my wish that the following information/advice will help make your first year not where you survive, but thrive in your teaching!

     

    New Teacher Concerns  

    Q1: How do you establish classroom routines?

    • Establishing class routines is vital. Be consistent! Say what you mean and mean what you say!  

    • Make sure that you are prepared; be clear on the subject matter that you are teaching. Have your materials ready. This will help you stay focused on the content and your students and limit opportunities for your students to go off task.

    • Model the behavior that you want to see from your students. Set expectations for how to talk to each other. You are setting the tone for developing the class community.

    • Keep the procedures short and sweet. You want the students to be successful. For example, raise your hand to speak, eyes and ears on whoever is teaching (teacher or student), and keep your hands and feet to yourself. 

    • I use Smart Classroom Management as a resource to fine-tune my classroom management. They have great ideas and tips that are easy to implement into class systems.

     

    Q2: Where do you find good resources/websites to help with lesson planning?

    I must admit that I am just a little biased — I love Scholastic.com. For me, it is a one-stop resource for everything that involves teaching. You can find anything from interactive field trips to support your instruction, to contests to keep your students engaged, as well as web based activities and (of course) advice from Scholastic Top Teaching Bloggers. They have even compiled a list for the best websites for teachers. 

     

    Q3: How do you make time for yourself to reflect?

    This is something that many in our profession struggle with. It is imperative that you carve out time in your day to do this. If you need to make an appointment with yourself, do so! I make time to reflect by either coming in a few minutes early or staying a few minutes past my work day to reflect on how the day is going or what needs to be changed. I also close and sometimes, lock my door and turn off the lights, so that no one will think that I am in the classroom. This gives me that “private” time that I need to gather my thoughts. As a newbie, I know that it can be difficult to say "no" or "not right now" or “I need a few minutes" to a colleague. So instead, work out a signal to put on your door to let your colleagues know that you are in your “Do Not Disturb Zone."

     

    Q4: Where do you get free/inexpensive books/materials for the classroom?

     

    • Go online — Set up a Donors Choose or GoFundMe page

    • Apply for a grant — Check with your local, state or national teacher association. There are many opporunities throughout the year to apply for grants that will enhance your classroom and your teaching. 

    • Garage sales — People are generous when they find out that you are buying for your students.

    • Scholastic Reading Clubs — It’s a win/win. When your students order books, you have the opportunity to get free books for your classroom. You also accumulate bonus points that you can use with the bonus catalog to acquire other supplies for your classroom.

    •  Other teachers —Teachers who are moving classrooms or retiring will be looking for ways to downsize. 

    Q5: How do you keep organized?

    Develop a system that works for you. Decide on where you want to put your materials. Color coding materials works for teachers who teach many different subjects to one class as well as for the teacher who teaches one subject to different groups of students. I label materials in my classroom. I use Scholastic’s Word Workshop (free online tool) to create my labels for my classroom. Another tip: try visiting other classrooms. You might find a technique that you could integrate into your classroom.

    This year at new teacher orientation, my district's teacher association distributed New Teacher Survival Jars to welcome and show support for the new staff. Each jar contained the following:

    New Teacher Survival Kit

    Rubber Bands: To remind you to always be flexible

    Paper Clips: To help you to hold it together

    Band-Aids: For when you need a little T.L.C.

    Highlighter: So your day is always bright

    Ink Joy Pen: To remind you to find the JOY in all that you do

    Tissues: To wipe away the tears of sadness and joy

    Eraser: To remind you everyone makes mistakes

    Hand Sanitizer: To keep everyone healthy and happy

    Starburst: For a burst of energy when you need it the most

    Stickers: To remind you we all stick together

    Chewing gum: Remember if you stick with it, you can accomplish anything

    A Sharpie Marker: To encourage you to make your mark

    Peppermint Patty: Always remember, you are worth a “mint” to your students 

     

     What a great way to start the year!

    Pearls of Wisdom — Ask for help. Please do not wait until you are feeling overwhelmed and over stressed. If you have concerns or are unsure of a policy or procedure, ask a colleague. If you are fortune enough to have a mentor, pick their brain! If not, try to pair up with a colleague on your grade level or content area as your go-to for assistance.

     

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