Any high school teachers out there? Especially math teachers.

Well after subbing on and off for several years, and taking time off to have a kid of my own after only one year of teaching 6th grade, I’ve finally decided to go back to work and landed a job at my favorite school in the county. Hooray! It’s not the best of schedules, since I’m the new girl on the block, but it’ll do for a start. I’ll have two periods each of Algebra 1, Applied Math 1, and Applied Math 2 (the applied math is the slower more hands on math, where it takes two years to get through Algebra 1; and the algebra 1 is for 10th graders, so they will all be either kids who failed it the first time through, or who had to take a lower class in 9th grade first).

So my question is, how do you stay organized? What are some of the things you do to keep things running smoothly? Do you require the kids to keep a notebook and do notebook checks/tests? Do you do any kind of bell-ringers or other start of class activity? Do you keep folders for the kids to use? What else is a good idea?

I feel fine about the content matter, since I can teach Algebra 1 in my sleep, and I’ll have a special ed teacher in my room for several classes, so I know she can help with a lot of things (school policies, ideas for extra stuff to do, enrichment and reteaching, etc). Discipline is discipline and I’ll either do it well or not. But I’ve always been one of those chaotic people who does have a method in the midst of all the madness, and I’d like to try to be more organized and on top of things this year. So any advice on organization and that type of classroom management would be appreciated.

In no particular order:

Start a “next year” book and start it on the first day of school. All year long you will be saying "next year, I need to remember to . . . " and you will forget the next-years of August by May.

Do not, under any circumstances, agree to sponsor any of the following organizations: student council, cheerleading, or any service organization or dramatic production. Those are all enormous time-sinks, way more than you think they will be, and often are fosted off on the innocent.

Your janitor and your office manager are your best friends. Learn their names. Thank your janitor daily. Ask your office manager questions as if she were the wisest person in the world and you are consulting an oracle. Figure out which assistiant priniciple is the discipline guy and establish a solid relationship with him.

Remember that they can’t fire you during the first year and your mistakes in September, even if they are noticed (and they won’t be as big as they seem) will be long forgotten by June.

Do NOT bitch to your coworkers–not one negative thing–for the entire first year. Find a good friend or start a live journal and pour your heart out to them, but be Miss Mary Sunshine at work. Once you’ve established yourself as someone who genuinely likes the kids and likes teaching, you can bitch about specifics. But you don’t want to be labeled as one of the bitter ones. Plus, you don’t know the political landscape. And campuses are very, very political. When you are frustrated about things, act puzzled and ask questions (“Is it normal to have duty all year?”)

Go to as many football games and choir concerts and musicals and swim meets as you can stand: one, even if you are exhausted, they are usually fun once you get there. Two, the kids will love you for it and work much harder. Three, you will learn to love the kids more when you see them in other contexts, Four, you will get to know your co-workers and parents better, Five, you will start to be part of a community. Offer the kids some token extra credit (bring slips to give to them) if they say Hi.

Remember ALWAYS that lighter punnishments applied consistiently are better than big punnishments that you can’t stand to administer. Remember the first time you make an exception you open yourself up to a debate and discussion every time that same issue comes up. But also remember that it’s ok to make exceptions if the cicumstances warrent it–you are a teacher, not the enforcer of fairness in the universe. But lighter punnishments usually mean you don’t mind bringing down the boom even if there is a 15% chance you are being unfair: draconian punnishments mean you will be plauged with self-doubt over that 15% chance and so give in.

Understand that you’ve been given a really crappy schedule there–three preps is rough. Once you have your feet under you, start lobbying for something better next year.

Teach the kids you have, not the kids you think you should have. They won’t have skills that you really expect them to have, and it will be frustrating. But you can’t ignore that reality.

Organize the class that best serves the kids you have, NOT the class you really wish you’d had in high school.

Do not believe anyone who tells you some rule is not really a rule, or some paperwork is not really important. There are rules and some paperwork that can be safely ignored, but the specifics vary from school to school, and some people that are blowing off rules/paperwork are paying high prices that they don’t know about. Wait a year and then you decide what you can afford to ignore.

Remember, now, that you will really, really hate your job some days/weeks/months this year. That’s normal. It doesn’t mean you aren’t cut out to do this. The first year is the hardest.

Find mentor teachers. Listen to them. Invite suggestions, because they likely won’t make them unasked.

As far as classroom management goes–you have to figure out what really matters to you before you can convey that to the kids, and unfortunately, you won’t really know until you’ve been in the classroom for a while. Everyone has their own things. Will you have your own room? That helps a great deal. You need to know how you want things to look as far as tardies, late work, absences, in-class talking, asking you for help, bathroom breaks, emergencies, cell phones, music players, using classroom resources, missing paper/pencils/books, trips to lockers all go . . . you need to know what you expect about all these things AND what you think should happen when one or more of these things don’t happen as expected. You can’t just say “They HAVE to have all supplies and no trips to their lockers” because what do you do when a kids DOESN’T have those things? Just let them sit there and do nothing and not learn and disrupt the class? You have to have a fall-back consequence for everything that 1) serves as a disincentive to repeat the bad behavior and 2) solves the immediate problem in a way that doesn’t create a worse problem.

I have a LOT more to say–teaching is the most amazing thing in the world–but I am probably freaking you out. Any specific questions?

I got thru my first year of teaching (was it really 20 years ago?) by regularly consulting the card I kept in my shirt pocket. Whenever things got out of hand and I thought I might lose it, or yell at a kid, I’d pull out the card and read it. In big letters, it said:

Lighten up - you’re being an asshole!

Got me thru that first year, it did! :smiley:

Remember that lesson plans are just that…plans. No good plan ever survives contact with the enemy. Be prepared to vamp at a moments notice, and don’t be afraid to ditch a plan that obviously isn’t working.

I’ve just finished my second year of teaching. I notice that you have had some experience, but that it is limited. I apologise in advance if I give you advice that you are already aware of but I know all too well that teaching can be a tough profession and I feel duty bound to be as tiresomely helpful as possible :slight_smile:

I taught English and Media Studies, not math, but a few of the lessons I learnt will probably still apply to you. Here’s a list of things I did (as well as a few things I wish I’d done) which I think might be helpful:

General tips

  1. Before you start, make sure that you are intimately familiar with your school’s disciplinary structure. Be sure you know what punishments you are allowed to give. There’s nothing more embarrassing than threatening a kid with a punishment in front of an entire class only for the kid to tell you that, actually, you don’t have the authority to give that punishment. It may be the case that certain teachers are in charge of prosecuting certain offences. For instance, in my school, if a kid swears at a teacher the incident is to be referred to a specific senior teacher who will deal with it personally. If there is a similar system in place at your school, make sure you know who is in charge of dealing with what.

  2. No matter how secure your subject knowledge, there will likely be times when you will not know how to present the material for a lesson to your class. Don’t be afraid to ask more experienced teachers for help planning your lessons. It will most emphatically not be viewed as a sign of weakness or incompetence. Instead it will help you acquire a reputation as someone who is keen to learn, eager to deliver effective lessons, and who has their students best interests at heart.

  3. Do not get involved in any after school activities of any kind for at least the first month of teaching. Do not run or help with the running of any after school clubs. Do not attend any after school sporting events unless you have absolutely nothing else to do. There is a good reason for this. In your first month you need to safeguard your afterschool time in order to make sure that you will be able to effectively resolve any disciplinary issues which may arise in your lessons. You are a new teacher. The kids will try to see how far they can push you. Incidents of bad behaviour tend to generate paperwork (the nature and amount of paperwork varies from school to school). The best time to deal with all this paperwork is immediately after school while the incidents are fresh in your mind.

  4. Having said that, once you’ve settled in a bit, it is important that you are seen to be participating in the life of the school. I second Manda JO’s advice to see as many sporting events, concerts, musicals, and swim meets as possible. This will help the kids see you as someone who is interested their achievements, and more than just another math teacher. However, if you are ever faced with a choice between seeing an after school event and spending a couple of hours writing detention letters or behaviour reports, choose the latter. Hopefully after a couple of months you will find that you won’t have to make choices like that very often.

  5. Get into work early. I cannot overstate the importance of this point. Arrive at least an hour before lessons start and spend this time making sure you have everything you will possibly need for each lesson. You will need to make sure that you have each of your classes as well organised as possible. Here is a checklist that I used to make sure I was prepared for each lesson. I would never feel comfortable starting a lesson unless I had all of the following easily to hand:

  6. Spare pens and pencils.

  7. Spare lined writing paper.

  8. One copy of every handout for every student in the class, plus ten spare copies, just in case.

  9. Spare board pens (they run out unbelievably quickly).

  10. Spare blank exercise books.

  11. A full complement of textbooks.

If you are using a projector connected to a computer you need to make sure that the computer is working and that every program you intend to use is working perfectly. You need to do this every day.

If you are using a television you need to make sure that you have:

  1. A SCART lead.
  2. A spare SCART lead.
  3. A remote control with batteries.
  4. Spare batteries.

You also need to test the television and video before you use it to make sure it’s still working. You also need to know where you can get a spare television at short notice just incase yours breaks down or another teacher “borrows” it.

If you have a projector, make sure it’s working before your lesson. If your projector works by remote control, make sure you have spare batteries for the remote, and that you know how to work it manually.

You may find yourself lucky enough to have an interactive whiteboard in your classroom. I, unfortunately, never had one of those, but I did occasionally cover classes that did and was expected to use it during those cover lessons. The first time I was required to use this I made a complete tit of myself because I had no idea how they worked. If you do have an interactive whiteboard, practise using it until you know exactly how they work. You should learn how to use an interactive whiteboard even if you don’t have one, just in case you’re required to use one for another class. Don’t worry, though. They’re pretty userfriendly and don’t take very much time at all to master.

  1. There are two kinds of teacher: Supportive teachers, and dickheads. Any teacher worth his salt knows that this is a hard job and will be happy to give you all the support they can. Obviously, these teachers are going to have busy schedules of their own and you can’t expect them to drop everything to help you at short notice. However, if you go to a colleague with a problem (say, for help planning a lesson, or for advice on how to deal with a particularly difficult child) you should expect them to help you if they can. If a teacher acts like an asshole if you ask them for help with something, it’s probably because they are an asshole. There’s nothing you can do about that and you shouldn’t take it personally.

  2. Make sure, before the start of term, that you have a base of operations. In my first year I was teaching two subjects to five classes in eight (count 'em) different classrooms. This is unusual, and you probably won’t have as troublesome a schedule as that. However, you may find that you occasionally need to switch classrooms. If this is the case you need to make sure that you have a designated area where you can keep all the things you need for your classes. If you are lucky enough to have your own classroom you won’t need to worry about this because your class desk will serve perfectly well. However, if you’re teaching in two or more classrooms you will need to make sure that you have a safe place where you can put things at short notice.

  3. Before you go to bed, make a ‘To Do’ list for the next day. I found this enormously helpful.

  4. Your best friends at a new school are the caretaker, the school secretary, the photocopying guy and the IT technician. Make sure you stay on their good side.

General disciplinary tips

I firmly believe that classroom control is the most important part of the job. It doesn’t matter how organised you are, or how well planned your lessons are, if you can’t get the kids to do what you want then all your efforts will be for nought. In your OP you said

I disagree with this. It’s true that some teachers, by virtue of their reputations or personal charisma, are just naturally good at controlling classes, but behaviour management is a skill that can be learnt. When I first started I was awful at this. And I mean unimaginably bad. However, I had improved enormously by the end of the year. I found the following tips very helpful. They are not presented in order of importance.

  1. Speak to the teachers who taught your classes before you did and grill them for behaviour management tips. Specifically, ask them if they used seating plans. Seating plans are, IMO, essential and I don’t understand how some teachers do without them. If they did use seating plans, try to keep them for your classes. This will send the message that you are in charge, and that you are familiar with the history of the class. Also, the kids will be far more accepting of a seating plan they are already familiar with than a brand new one.

However, if they had no seating plan, you should make constructing one a top priority. Tell your classes previous teachers that you want to have a seating plan and ask for their help in constructing them. They will be happy to help as they will want you to be successful in your teaching. If, for some reason, you are unable to construct a seating plan before the first lesson, sit your students in alphabetical order boy-girl, boy-girl. They will HATE this and moan about it no end. Stand your ground. Alphabetical seating alternating by gender is, in my experience and the experience of the teachers I’ve been working with, an effective way to seat students at the beginning of a term. They will likely not be with their friends, so there will be less temptation to mess about, and they will immediately recognise that you are in charge. If a kid refuses to sit in a particular seat in your first lesson, remind them that it is your class, and your lesson, and that you are in charge of the seating.

Keep a diagram of your seating plan because some kids will try to sit next to their friends at the beginning of the next few lessons and you need to be wise to this.

Now, if it turns out that a previous teacher couldn’t control a particular class, take your class list and show it to your head of department. They will probably have been there a few years and will probably have a passing familiarity with some of the more difficult pupils. Consequently, they may well be able to offer some advice, both about seating plans and general behaviour tips.

  1. Find out before hand if any of your kids have learning difficulties.

  2. Find out beforehand if any of your kids have any difficulties with English. They may need simplified worksheets.

  3. Find out beforehand if any of your kids have any behavioural difficulties. If they do, ask your school counsellor or special needs co-ordinator for advice on how to deal with them.

  4. The first thing you should do with a brand new class is explain the rules and make your expectations clear. Don’t give them too many rules. Here are the rules I used:

i) Only one person is allowed to talk at a time. If I am talking to the class, everyone needs to pay attention. If a class member is giving a presentation, or asking or answering a question, everyone needs to pay attention.

ii) Raise your hand if you want to ask or answer a question.

iii) Absolutely no electronic devices. Mobile phones, iPods, PSP’s or Nintendo DS’s will, if seen, be confiscated and placed in my desk until the end of the lesson.

iv) Uniforms will be perfect before entering the class. I don’t teach scruffbags.

v) It is your responsibility to bring all the equipment you need to a lesson.

A few simple, unambiguous rules, are far more effective than a whole raft of rules covering every eventuality.
6) Be consistent in your application of the rules. Kids will always whine that you’re being unfair by punishing them. The best way not to be dissuaded by this is by making sure you know exactly what behavioural infractions merit exactly what behavioural sanction, and sticking to your decision. If you think that, in retrospect, you’ve been unfair, then feel free to make an exception. As Manda JO said, you’re a teacher, not the enforcer of fairness in the universe. However, avoid pulling U-turns in front of a class. Reversing yourself in front of a class will only open yourself up to more accusations of unfairness. One time I gave a kid a one hour detention when he really didn’t deserve it. Rather than reverse myself in front of the class, I pulled that kid out of his form registration the next day, told him that I’d been too harsh, and gave him a lesser punishment instead. He was perfectly happy with this and I didn’t lose face in front of the rest of the class.

  1. Never, EVER talk over a pupil. I cannot overemphasise just how vitally important that is. If you let one kid talk while you’re talking, they’ll all do it.

  2. Shouting is a useful way to get order, but only do it sparingly. Kids quickly get used to it and it ceases to be effective if you use it all the time.

  3. If you’re going to shout, direct your ire towards the whole class (indeed, you should only really let rip if the whole class is playing you up). Singling out one kid for special abuse just makes you look like a bully.

  4. Use lots of praise. This is a really important one. Don’t just make it clear that bad behaviour will be punished, make it clear that good behaviour will be rewarded.

Some general tips on detentions:

  1. If you give a kid a detention make damn sure they serve it! Hound them 'til the ends of the earth if necessary. Make it absolutely clear that if a kid skips out on one of your detentions they’ll simply get another, longer one, and maybe more besides.

  2. If you give a kid a detention, try to make sure he serves it with you. This will reinforce the impression that you are in charge, and that he is in detention because he has disrespected you.

  3. Detentions should not be fun. Here are some of the things I would make my kids do during my detentions:

  4. Lines (most suitable for younger pupils).

  5. Grammar work (you could substitute math work).

  6. Silent reading.

Make it clear that if a kid misbehaves in your detention they will earn themselves another, longer one, and maybe more besides.
Jeezus. I’ve just looked back over what I’ve written. I’m sorry RachelChristine. I really had no idea I’d written so much. I think I’d best stop now before the weight of my post crashes the boards, sends the servers into meltdown, rips a gloryhole in the fabric of space-time and sends us all spiralling into a black hole before your first day :slight_smile:

If, for any reason, you want any additional advice or just want to vent after a particularly crappy day, my e-mail address is

All the very best of luck!

Very practical tips:

  1. Get a clipboard. Use it to hold your seating charts and anything that is suer important for that day–answer keys, weird schedule changes, paperwork that has to be turned in by lunch.

  2. Put your seating charts in sheet protectors. Then you can write on them with overhead markers when you need to make quick swaps, or make checks for participation or attendance.

  3. In your gradebook, highlight people that have dropped/moved. Highlight them all the way across. You will quickly learn to skip those rows when you are entering grades or whatever, but if they reappear (which at least one or two a year will do), that data isn’t lost.

  4. Don’t leave anything you care about not locked up. It will get stolen, and you will be devestated because you know it’s one of your kids. I just don’t carry cash in the building, period. It also makes it easier to say no when people ask for money.

  5. Have a basket to put graded/recorded papers in and have the kids fetch them out themselves. When they really build up, pass the rest out during a test. Paper-handing back can be a really chaotic thing and is an easy time to lose control when you are new.

  6. Do have bellringers. It gets the class busy right from the start. As far as managing the grading on that, see what the rest of the department does. I don’t know math.

  7. Say hi to your kids when you see them in the hall and call them by name. This will help with classroom management 100%

  8. Be standing at the door when they come in. Old trick, but it works to get class started.

  9. If you have a kid who is a persistient problem and you have decided it has to be escalated, write the referral BEFORE he comes to class, when you have time. Make it a think of beauty, using key words like “insubordination” and detailing everything you’ve done in the past–calls home, moving his seat, long talks, etc. Have his ID # on it. Sign it. Just leave off the date. Possibly show it to him–depending on the kid. Then, the very next time he does anything–however small–whip it out and send him to the office. No discussion.

  10. Physical proximity is the best classroom management technique. First, stare, even as you are lecturing or whatever. Then, move over to stand next to or near the kid. It’s only after those have failed–and they rarely will–that you have to say anything. Much less disruptive, gives the class the illusion that you are really in control, and lets the kids self-correct with dignity.

  11. If you need each kid in a row to do something–like hand out books–say “tallest” or “oldest”, don’t ask for a volunteer. They all like being the tallest and the oldest so they usually figure it out pretty quickly and get it done.

And some not so quick and dirty ones:

Don’t overexplain to parents. Be open, but don’t be so sure that they are out to blame YOU that you send two-page emails proving you gave their kid every chance to pass. One, you don’t have that sort of emotional energy to waste the first year. Two, it actually makes it seem like you are open to negotiation/unsure of yourself.

For classroom management, remember that it’s never over. If they are doing well, it’s not because they’ve finally “got” it, it’s becasue of all the things you are doing right. So don’t let up.

I do have a lot to say!

Thanks for the advice so far! I didn’t go into a lot of detail in my OP, but I really like the school I am going to be working in. I did my student teaching there, plus have subbed there a lot and even did a long term for about 10 weeks when a teacher was in a bad car accident. That helps because I know almost everyone in the math department pretty well (although there has been a complete turnover in all 6 principals in the past 4 years!).

I’m pretty psyched at only having three preps. When I taught 6th grade I had 5 (all different subjects too!) and when I did the long term before I had 4 (all math at least).

I just really hate that I am going to go into it all not knowing exactly what I want in terms of policies. I’ve subbed for years and you would think that I would have absorbed some of what I’ve seen enough to know what I would like to do myself, but I’m just overwhelmed right now. I think I’m still in shock that I even bid on the job, much less that I got it! I didn’t intend to go back to work until my daughter was older.

One sort of minor problem I am going to have to deal with is my niece. She is in one of my classes, which would normally not be too big of a deal, but she has just moved in with me and DH. I even went and checked with the counselor, but there is no way to change her schedule around to another teacher. I know that she is feeling a bit crowded by us as it is, but oh well. Her mom is in Iraq, her dad in another state, her grandparents won’t take her again, and she hates her stepdad. We’ve always gotten along well, so the new living arrangements are fine, but the class thing isn’t going over too well.

Anyway, thanks for the advice!

I’m just checking in to say that I’m also about to begin my first year as a math teacher. I’ll be teaching calculus and other advanced classes for 11th and 12th grade. Luckily I did get to take a a one-week training course earlier in the summer, so I got plenty of excellent materials and tips from people who have been doing this for twenty years.

Perhaps we should form a club or something.

I’m also on the cusp. I’m finishing up my Masters in Education and will be student teaching this Spring, starting full time the following Fall.

ITR champion, how did you land the choice classes in your first year? Around here, new teachers get handed the bonehead math classes and we have to do our time before we get classes with motivated students!

These are great tips, everyone. Thank you so much.

Do not ever show this attitude in a school. Some people are great at motivating “bonehead” kids, and this sort of attitude suggests you are dismissing what they do as worthless or pointless. And there are plenty of “motivated” kids in the “bonehead” classes–kids that are working 40 hours a week to help pay family bills, kids that didn’t speak a word of English just a couple years ago, kids who have learning disabilities.

Furthermore, there will be PLENTY of “boneheads” in a given upper-level class. Kids that are in there because their parents want them to be with their “peers”, kids that used to be smart before they discovered drugs or sex or WoW, kids with severe emotional problems, etc. And these are the kids that have parents who call you every night, who go to your boss behind your back, who second-guess your every move.

This sort of comment–even in jest–will get you blacklisted in a lot of schools. It makes you sound insensitive and clueless, like the sort of person who sees everything through the lens of their own high school experience. Do not say things like this where anyone you might ever work with or who might recommend you can hear.

And Rachel Christine, it sounds like you are way more experienced than I assumed–most of our new teachers are fresh out of student teaching if they even did that. You’ll be fine, and I am sorry if any of what I said seemed condecendingly obvious!

I’ve been teaching for a year and a half (December Graduate) in two different schools (taught somewhere else from December to June, then a spot opened up where I student taught, and I was able to make the switch).

DO NOTexpect wonders from your special education co-teacher. At both schools, the one consistent fact was that the special educator assigned to me has been an overgrown high school student with no valuable experience in special education. They brought me no resources and really only served as a warm body to fulfill the requirements of the IEPs. There are some great special educators out there, but the teachers with tenure have already figured out who they are and have established a good teaching relationship with them. You may be stuck with one of the not-so-good ones. I was able to ask for no co-teaching arrangement for the coming year(s), and as it was my one self-centered request, my department chair made it happen. END mini-rant.

Seating charts need to start on day one. If you’re in a school like my old one where you didn’t get your class lists until 5 minutes before kids showed up on the first day, number the desks the day before. Then just put the class roster on the overhead and number the names. The kids will figure it out. You may always relinquish control over seats later, but if you never establish that you choose seats, and then try to go to it, you will have nothing but problems.

Don’t have a long list of classroom rules. My 3 are “Be Prompt and Present, Be Prepared and Be Polite” plus “All school rules apply in this classroom” Having nice umbrella rules mean recurring minor things still fall under rules.

DOCUMENT ALL PARENT CONTACT!!! On the first day of school, I have every student fill out a basic information sheet: Their name and ID number, which people they live with, what their phone numbers are. These sheets are pre-hole-punched and blank on the back. They all go in a big binder and when I call home, I record it on the back of the student’s sheet. I take the sheet to any conferences, and file any referrals/IEPs behind the student’s sheet. Makes it very handy when going to administration with a problem.

Don’t listen to anyone who gives you a no fail organization strategy. Well, listen, but don’t go out and buy 27 plastic color-coded folders, because you don’t know that it’s an organization system that will work for you. I tried a few different things for a few different areas and found one that worked for each area. Your first year will be a little disorganized. Be prepared.

I definitely second the previous poster who said “Don’t get involved in anything after school for the first month.” I would actually extend it to the first quarter. I’ve found that there’s an expectation that we will make ourselves available for extended periods of time after school. Don’t open this door or you will be tutoring every day of the week for hours. My policy (borrow or leave it - your choice): I offer tutoring on Wednesdays after school only. Our school has other resources on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so they are only out of luck on Mondays and Fridays. Additionally, students must tell me in advance that they will be staying for help and they must be in my classroom before the “Clear the building” announcement (which happens 15 minutes after the dismissal bell). Additionally, I make them show me the notes they took in class that day when the come in for tutoring. If they have nothing, they don’t get to stay. This really helps to protect your own time after school.

Lastly, if your school can set you up with one, get a class website going. I have all my syllabi posted on mine, plus a page for each prep with a table that has the following columns:
-Work collected
-Topics covered
-Homework assigned
This way, any student who is out can check the website either from home or from the library when they get back. I play deaf when they ask “What did I miss?” It also helps parents keep up with their kids without e-mailing you.

I hope this didn’t scare you too much.

That’s no big deal! I didn’t go into my whole history because it’s fragmented a bit, with working and stopping and moving and long term subbing and having a baby and …

There were lots of things all of you said that I already know/do, but just because of the jumping around I’ve done there are some things I’ve never experienced either. I was just thinking the other day about how I don’t really know anything about getting my school supplies because I’ve never had to do that before! :slight_smile:

And I’d love to learn how to use one of those interactive white boards. They look so cool. They didn’t have them when I was subbing before, so I have no experience there at all. And I’m still debating whether I want to work on an overhead projector or on the board. There are so many pros and cons either way (the biggest cons being that I’m too short to utilize much of the board and I hate turning my hands blue and green with transparency markers). Oh well, I’ll figure it all out!

I like overheads better because I don’t like to have my back to the class and because I can prep things better. I mostly use my boards for announcements.

One good tip is hand sanitizer. Have LOTS, and have it avalible to your students. It helps you for them to use it! Sanitize your hands after you grade papers, especially. And between classes. I am FAR from germ-phobic, but schools are petri dishes and a cold when you are teaching is miserable–missing school makes more work than just going and being miserable. It also helps with the vis-a-vis residue.

Take care of any doctor’s appointments, routine car maintenance, or other tasks now. You have to take a half-day to do any of that while teaching and it is a huge pain in the butt.

Always put kids off a day if they have requests, like a deadline extension or a letter of rec or make-up assignments or whatever. Tell them to come back and ask you after school or before school the next morning–the serious ones will: the random, off-the-top of their heads requests will be forgotten.

To each their own. I usually regard overhead users as people with such poor classroom control that they are afraid to turn their back on the students! :smiley:

But it’s probably a good idea for a new teacher. It aids in classroom control, and you can flip forward or back in a lesson very easily. I second the hand sanitizer.

Another approach to being visible at school events is to pick one or two specific sports and attend all their home games. This gets you noticed as a supporter, but lets you slide on all the other sports/activities. For example, the only sports I’m ever seen at are Girl’s Water Polo and Girl’s Softball. I tell the students that since Boy’s sports get all the money and attention, I will only support Girl’s sports, and only those I have a connection with. Saves all sorts of time and hassle.

That may be true. Though honestly, I use neither a whole lot: mostly small group work and class discussion–I give five “listen and take notes” lectures a year. And none takes a whole period. That will be different next year when I teach econ . . no idea how that will go!

And my I recommend non-athletic events as well? Mock trial is way more impressive than you think it will be. We have an open mike session after school a few days a year. Drama, choir, and band events. All these support kids that don’t always get the attention they deserve, and the kids eat it up.

Thank you Manda JO, I’m duly chastened, and warned.

But my question to **ITR champion ** still stands. The math departments I’m familiar with seem to have a common theme of distributing teaching challenges disproportionately to the least experienced faculty.

I know that some people have a knack for motivating “bonehead” kids, and I think I might be one of them. I’ve spent every Friday morning for the last eight years leading math labs in elementary schools. Many of the fifth and sixth grade teachers I work with are very uncomfortable working with the kids who struggle with math concepts and I can see that some of these kids emerge with an erroneous impression that they’re “bad at math.” I know so many middle aged adults - mostly women - who discovered late in life that contrary to their earlier self assessment they’re actually very adept at math. It’s right there in fifth grade or middle school that those negative conclusions are formed.

And tossing around expressions like “bonehead,” even in jest, is no help. Mea culpa.

This advice may or may not be useful in this setting. I have been teaching at the university level in various capacities (currently PT/Adjunct) for something like twenty years or so. I started out in chalk mode, am now firmly embedded in electronic media.

To the extent possible, create a complete prep, day-by-day, with web-based support. If you can kill paper in your work, kill as much paper as you can. Support your course with web-based material, maintaining at a minimum scheduling, policies, daily materials, keys, samples, as well as alias-linked scores.

I maintain my courses with pages like this. The students love it, nothing gets lost, and the wee buggers are practically cyborgs at this point. But teaching at the HS level frequently involves much less freedom in terms of pedagogical latitude.

Once you have a working base template for each prep, you’ll have the comfort and ability to alter the course per experience and creativity.