Saturday, August 26, 2017

First Year Teachers and Organization Ideas

For first year teachers ... here are some tips for organization to help you through those first weeks!
  1. Review the teacher handbook carefully. Make note of your questions. Take those questions to your administrator or department chair.

  2. Find out what supplies are provided by your school. Is there a copy code? Do you have a limit on copies? Will the school provide dry erase markers (or chalk!)? Are there any chart paper pads available? What about paper, pencils, graph paper, pens, rulers?

  3. Does your school have math manipulatives?  Algebra tiles? Algebra blocks? Rulers?
    Protractors? Polyhedron? Cuisenaire Rods? Pattern Blocks? If not these, what math supplies are available?

  4. What technology will be in your classroom? Who do you contact when the tech has a glitch? 

  5. Review the student handbook carefully as you build your personal discipline plan.  Ask your teammates how they handle specific disruptions in class. Find out how your school responds to students' use of phones.  Here is a collection of posts on classroom management.

  6. As you decorate your room, think about the traffic pattern in your room. Where do students enter? Can they pick up handouts, calculator and such on the way into the room? Where will students turn in work? How will you distribute graded work?

  7. Decide how students will find their seats on the first day. If you let them choose their seats, will you build a seating chart from their choices? Having a seating chart can help you learn their names. If students are sitting in groups, consider asking each group to take a group selfie and email it to you. That way you can create a visual seating chart to help with learning names. Put your seating charts in page protectors. You can write directly on the seating charts.

  8. Keep a clipboard for recording information during class easily. Print out roll sheets each week to record attendance, track homework completion, students bringing supplies, etc. If you teach in high school, students assigned to your class will change during the first 2 weeks. Printing a roll sheet weekly helps you keep track of changes.

  9. Collect information from you students. You can simply give them each an index card to ask for their names, home telephone numbers, extracurricular activities, and any special accommodations they might have. Or if you have access to technology create a simple Google Form - that way all of the information is in a spreadsheet - easy to access.

  10. Create a form to collect information from parents. How do they want to be contacted - phone, text, email? Ask parents to share specific information about their children. Put the parent form on Google Forms as well. Post the form on your website, send it out by email, send the link home with students. If your school's management system doesn't have an automatic way to email parents, create a parent email group for each class.

  11. During the first weeks, outline your lesson plan with estimated time values. Plan one or two extra activities. Avoid "free" time - teach bell to bell. Train students to wait until you dismiss the class to leave their seats.

  12. Consider putting an outline of your lesson in slides. That way you can project the day's agenda, warm up, instructions for the day easily. You can also upload the slides to your website or email them out for students who were absent.

  13. Determine before the first week how you want students to organize their work. Do you prefer a
    certain heading on papers? Will they keep a 3-ring notebook? What will go in it?  Will they keep a composition notebook? Will they create a table of contents? Will you use tape or glue to add pre-printed notes?

  14. Organize your files on Google Drive in folders by unit. As you finish a unit, put all of the handouts, materials, instructions in a 3-ring binder. Create a binder for each unit - even if you have electronic copies. Use the hard-copy to mark up for next year. Highlight errors, instructions that need rewriting, and make notes of changes you want to make.

  15. Take time at the end of each day to breathe and reflect. Keep a notebook of thoughts. You don't have to write a lot, or write elegantly. Just make notes. What will you celebrate? What needs tweaking? Make note of curious or crazy student talk. Make note of the math errors you saw that day. How can you build in a review of those topics over the next few weeks?
I hope this list will help you think through the first weeks. Often we teach as we were taught. So as you are planning your classroom organization think about those teachers you had in which class ran smoothly. You'll soon develop your own organizational style!

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