My advice to a good friend starting his first teaching position Monday with New Teacher Orientation:
- Get all the free stuff you can (some bigger districts have Office Max, Grad Schools, etc. handing out free stuff).
- Join your union. Even if your union doesn’t have a lot of power in your state and even if you think the fees are a lot. Most unions will provide you with a lawyer (and some give you insurance) in the case that you are sued. Also, if there are problems with how you are evaluated or, god forbid moves to let you go, the union is the only help you will have. Don’t join the union? You won’t have help.
- Bring a snack. I always get hungry.
- Bring a jacket if the place holding it is air conditioned. I always freeze at these.
- Smile. Everyone is a little nervous.
- If there is a really good presenter (which does not always happen), make sure to write a name down so you can send a thank you card. It is just good form.
- Make sure your phone is on vibrate. You don’t want to be that person.
- It is ok if you forget most of the clerical stuff they go over. You’ll hear it at least 10 more times.
That’s all I have for those orientation days. Anyone else have something to add?
Classroom Wishlist on Amazon
Normally, I wouldn’t ask, but I’m in a bit of a crunch. As many of you know I’m a first year teacher in a small rural school district. The teacher I replaced retired after spending her entire career in the district. She was a great teacher, however, she did not teach novels in her junior high classes. Because of this, I have no books (other than textbooks) to use with my junior high classes and I would like to have them familiar with how to study a novel before they go on to high school.
I was hoping to be able to use my classroom budget to buy books for all of my junior high classes. I was able to purchase a class set of Hunger Games for my 8th graders, but the rest of my budget went towards replacing books (or making sure I had enough books) for my high school classes (I teach two periods of 11/12th grade English, as well).
It is my hope to do a unit on the Holocaust with my students. We have had some bullying issues lately and I was hoping that this unit would not only be academically educational, but also socially education. I would like to use literature circles in order to differentiate for my higher, mid, and lower readers.
I know that the #Education community is made up of several kind and generous individuals who like to support their own. Last year I saw a few teachers in similar situations create Amazon Wish Lists and I was blown away by the support they received. This inspired me to create my own wish list. On my wish list you will find 4 novels (Number the Stars, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Milkweed, and Code Name Verity).
So, in the event that any one has a few extra dollars (or even an extra copy of one of the books on my list) that you’re willing to spare your help would be greatly appreciated. If you are able to help out please leave a return address so my students and I can send you a thank you card.
Thank you for your support.
Review, review, review.
Do your students have trouble remembering what you went over in class the week before, the day before, the 5 minutes you just covered? (Do you?)
Take a look and see if perhaps you are reviewing enough for it to be memorable. Here’s a few of my favorite questions I use to review:
- Timmy, what’s one big thing from last week that you remember? (Gabrielle, what is something different than what Timmy just said?)
- Jane, if your mom asked “What did you learn in class today?”, what could you tell her?
- Hunter, if you had to summarize the last 5 minutes (when we’ve been covering figurative language) for someone, what would you say?
- Oh no! Lindsay just lost her notes and she needs help reconstructing hers from this week. David, you need to summarize Monday for her, Blaine has Tuesday, and Cat has Wednesday. Take 30 seconds, look at your notes, and tell me what you’d tell her she should write down (and no, you can’t just say “here’s a copy of my notes”)
Sometimes I play quick review football. I ask for students to look over their notes and remember what we talked about yesterday. We start at the 20 yardline, so they’ve got approximately 8 facts or concepts to remember. Sometimes if it’s good, I’ll award them 15 yards, and if it’s a simple, easy fact or isn’t quite on target, 5 yards. I do this verbally - it happens too quickly to do any sort of setup or diagram.
And remember, repeat, repeat, repeat. Your students aren’t going to remember a concept from yesterday if you only said it once in a lecture. Even if they’re working in groups or doing projects, go around and re-emphasize key phrases and articulate the key concepts. Even if they’re sick of the phrase that summarizes the main idea of the unit, remember that years from now they’ll look back on it fondly (“Assonance is the Mule Rule” makes me think Mrs. Y, my great English teacher).
The Light at the end of my tunnel
I’m home sick—just knew I’d get worse and then it’d be bad, being a teacher. So I opted to stay home today on a day I knew it’d do probably the least amount of harm.
But, despite how crappy I feel, I was able to arrange the booking of my cruise to Alaska on the Disney Wonder.
The Disney Wonder.
Folks, I’m going on another DISNEY CRUISE. TO ALASKA. I HAVE A REASON FOR LIVING AGAIN. Words cannot describe my feels—both literally and now metaphorically.
Take 10 minutes.
Just sit or recline in silence. Maybe some kind of very low peaceful music if that’s your thing. Don’t sleep, but quiet your mind. Meditation-like. If you like to keep your mind totally clear, then do it! I find that difficult so I just strive for quiet.
This is really great for those days when you just know that you will be at school all evening. Right after your last class, take ten, take a deep breath, then start attacking the piles and lists.
Me: So normally I would never answer my cell phone, but I’m waiting for a really important call, so if it goes off I’m going to go into the hall for a minute.
Student One: Are you interviewing for a job?
Me: Well, I thought I already had a job…
Student Two: Are you going to get a job where you make more than seven dollars an hour? Wait, do you make minimum wage?
Last school year...
Second semester, I had a tough, tough class.
I’d come back from lunch ready to take them on, ready to challenge them to learn and grow. I’d begin talking about what we were discussing or reading about or writing about or working on and suddenly one of them would have a
question opinion phrased as a question. If I responded, they’d take 20 minutes of class arguing, not listening to logic or reason. If I refused to engage them in an argument, they would shut down and not listen to anything else I said, saying that I wasn’t listening to their opinion, why should they listen to what I was saying.
I reserved the computer lab with the help of another teacher (no one ever told me how) last week.
Today, another teacher shows up halfway through my second class declaring that the lab is theirs. I disagreed, so we went and checked the calendar (on Outlook).
The other teacher’s name was on the calendar.
So now I have no computer lab.