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Home : 2007 : Jul : 2

    first things first
    By roo

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    First of all, congratulations on your new job...no matter how prepared you are, it will be an adventure! Now to get started...this is what I would do.
    -Write down a list of your questions...all of them... no matter how big or small...about the school, the kids, the curriculum, the grade...whatever.
    -Have you met the other teachers at your grade level (assuming there are some)? If not, get in touch with them. Or if you were assigned a mentor, get in touch with her. Schedule a face to face meeting. Get those questions out in the open and find out what they have to say. Every school is different, so their feedback will be helpful
    -Have you read The First Day of School, by Harry Wong? If not, do. It addresses a lot of your concerns.
    -If you haven't gotten into your classroom, see if you can. You need to find out what you have and reorganize it to make it yours. Knowing what goes where will help you identify your procedures and routines. Where will they turn in papers. Where do they check out books? Where do they find out what's for homework? That sort of thing. Getting some basics in place will help you feel calmer and more prepared.
    -Get ahold of any materials you are expected to use, along with your state standards/curriculum. You need to map out a general plan for your year of what you'll be doing when. You don't have to get too specific yet. Just get an idea of your pacing. How long do you think you'll have to spend on your units so you can fit it all in. You don't want to spend 2 months on multiplication, and not have time for geometry later (I teach math, can you tell?;) )
    -You need to make a master plan for your daily/weekly schedule. Determine when you will be teaching what. You'll probably have a set schedule of special classes (art, music, p.e.,) lunch, etc. Talk to your colleagues to see if there's anything else or if there's something else you need to work around. This will give you an example of your time frame and you can get a schedule in place.
    -Find out if your school or grade level has a discipline plan in place. If so, you know what your discipline system will be. If not, it's time to determine your rules (usually no more than 3-4) and consequences.
    -I really try to focus on rules, procedures, and routines during the first week. We do start teaching math, science, and social studies that week, but pretty much everything else is getting to know the classroom expectations. Once you know how your classroom is going to work, make a list of those things the kids will need to know. Prioritize it and print it out. This will be your checklist for things to cover during the first day/week.
    That's a lot, and some of it is pretty vague. I'll be happy to help with more specifics, if you want. I've been teaching for 14 years, and this is my 12th in 4th grade, so I've got some experience at this. Good luck!

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