There are many questions that new teachers ask before walking into their classrooms, and tips for new teachers can be invaluable come the first day of school.
In a recent edWebinar, Dr. Monte Tatom, director of institutional and church research at Heritage Christian University, Taylor Warren, a first-grade teacher, and Ashley McCrory, a kindergarten teacher, provided tips for new teachers to help with the most common questions.
1. What if I get a grade/subject I didn’t want?
Do your best to learn as much as possible through videos, pre-reading, and prepping for lessons.
The material will become more comfortable to teach when taught over multiple years. Take this as a fun opportunity to learn along with your students. Be flexible with shifting gears during a lesson and reach out to your PLN for resources and guidance.
2. What supplies do I need to buy before my first day?
Depending on the school district’s financial stability, you may use your personal funds for classroom supplies. Essential items should include organization supplies such as bins, drawer systems, labels, blue sticky tack; flexible furniture for suitable learning environments; and a digital or paper planner for faculty meetings, PD events, and parent conferences. The presenters caution against buying too many classroom supplies at the beginning of the school year because teachers may not end up using what they initially view as essential items.
3. What do I need to do to prepare myself for the first time I meet my students?
Understanding students’ health issues, learning disabilities, and educational plans such as an IEP or a 504 before the school year can create a calm and safe environment for all students. Sending personal notes home can let your students and parents learn about you and ease students’ worries and transitions into a new grade.
4. What should I do if I get an inclusion class and have to co-teach?
Communication is critical when co-teaching with a special education teacher. Meeting weekly to map out lesson plans and develop classroom management strategies and routines will create a consistent environment, be well organized, and supports all learners.
5. How do you handle being assigned as a teacher to the gifted program?
When you are dealing with gifted students, teachers need to think out of the box. Their brains are always running, so keep them engaged, but also give them brain breaks. You may also have gifted students with different strengths and weaknesses, so it is essential to pre-test, differentiate, and personalize their learning experiences.
6. What do I do if I find out that I’m teaching three grades at one time?
Think of this situation as one where you are teaching multiple levels and not multiple grades. Develop a curriculum that can be differentiated for each grade level yet remain transferrable from class to class. While these learning environments can benefit all students, be mindful of using the older students to teach the younger ones.
7. How do I prepare to deal with an upset parent?
Always be proactive by informing parents about student incidents as soon as possible. Communicating with the administration, listening to parents’ concerns, and documenting events can diffuse situations that can otherwise become confrontational. Staying calm and reassuring parents that you have their children’s best interests in mind can provide an opportunity for all parties to solve the issue together.
8. How do I handle a parent’s request that their child should not participate in certain activities because of religious reasons?
When students are excluded from school activities, they may feel as though they are being punished. Respect the parent’s request but encourage them to send the child to school to be included in other learning experiences during the school day.
9. How do I prepare myself if I find out that I have a paraprofessional to assist me in my class?
Take the time to meet with the paraprofessional before the start of the school year. Explaining classroom routines, designating responsibilities, and supporting their understanding of the curriculum can lead to a conducive learning partnership.
10. How do I prepare myself if I find out that I am teaching my class in an alternative setting, such as a stage in the cafeteria?
Being mobile with roll-around carts, consolidating supplies, and preparing for the learning space is key to adapting to non-traditional classrooms. Before the school year or semester, check out the area you will be teaching and ensure that the technology and other resources are available. Most importantly, prepare your lessons for space you are in and not for the learning space you wish you had.
Originally Published: eSchoolNews