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    I couldn't help but write...
    By sue d.

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    I'm not new anymore, although it seems like yesterday that I was getting out of grad school. Anyway, after seven years of successful teaching, I'll tell you the same things I tell my student teachers:
    1. STAY ORGANIZED!
    2. Read all of the teacher resource books you can (not general ones, but the ones with pre-made lessons and ideas to get you started) on management, how to start the first days of school (Harry Wong's book is still the best!) and ones that deal specifically with your curriculum and grade level. Buy the worksheet books and print off ready-made units from the net that correspond directly to what you'll be teaching. You will NOT have the time your first year to write brand new, brilliant units of your own for seven subjects a day, trust me. Save the innovations for every once in a while instead.
    3. Forget using all of the latest cutesy fluff from your education classes and trying to stray from the state curriculum. Instead, be familiar with the unit plans you are required to teach and start from there coming up with ways to teach THOSE lessons. The worst new teacher issue I ever had to face was the one I mentored last year. She used a different voice when speaking to the third graders (a higher pitched, Mr. Roger's screech) which made them feel like babies. She wanted to teach about poetry and make cute drawings everytime they wrote a sentence. It was spring time before she realized that she had not taught multiplication, division or the paragraphs the children were going to be tested on. She had no knowledge of the ancient civilizations third graders were going to have to learn. She cried and said, "I just had so many ideas from college... I hate these state tests! How am I going to cram all of these units in at the last minute?" I had tried helping her all year stick to the curriculum, showing her ways that she could innovate with those lessons while still sticking with the required academics, but she kept insisting that she had it all planned out. When parents complained, she came to me for validation saying how awful they were and ignoring what they were complaining about. When I offered help, she only wanted quick fixes. I still feel horribly for her, as she got bad evaluations and ended up going back to school this year. Don't be like that, listen to others, use this website, and be REALISTIC! The other new teachers I have worked with were all much more professional and prepared.
    3. Work hard and try to eliminate parent problems before they start by finding out what they want and doing it. Others on this vent site may strongly disagree with being a parent-pleaser, but it helped me have a super first year and gave me much more respect from the community. Either way, they will still think you are too young and will doubt much of what you say or do. Show them wrong and try to deal with the the issues by not grading too harshly right off the bat, sending home great newletters and having an email address parents can use rather than giving them your phone number. I also send home weekly behavior and academic reports to be signed. Parents eat this up and other than the copying, this little half-size form I got from a management resource book has eliminated parent phone calls. In fact, I was so organized, that even though I had no idea what I was doing my first year, no one knew it! Now I do, but it's my little secret.
    4. Each year, make a list of what you will continue to do the following year that worked well in your class and an alternate list of what did NOT work. A discipline plan, for example, will most likely need to change each year. For Sarah who wrote above, a discipline plan is some system(s) you implement in your class to make the children understand your authority, to set a positive but structured environment in your room, and also one in which behavior issues will not make you tear your hair out. These include rules, consequences, rewards and such. Set high expectations and be very aware of what you say to children-- they remember every word and spit it back to their parents. I got a lot of my ideas from watching others, reading teacher books and remembering what I liked in school.

    Good luck!



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