Last weekend, I received an email from Sarah, a freshly minted teacher looking for some help. With her permission, I’m posting our conversation in the hopes that it’ll answer questions other recent grads might be having, too:
I have been hired to start my first year this coming August. I’ve been told I’ll be teaching four sections of sophomores and two sections of juniors. I love your blog, and I’ve been reading through posts. What do you think is most necessary for me to do this summer to be ready to go in and teach? I’m excited, but also freaking out!
Congratulations, Sarah! I’m so excited for your new venture. Prepare yourself – this first year will be exhausting no matter how much you prep this summer, but there are some concrete things you can do now to be ready. Most importantly, you gotta nail down your systems. Have a plan for how you’ll run the room. What’s your discipline strategy? How will you handle the paper load? What’s the procedure to get an absent student caught up? How often will you contact parents with positive feedback?
Curriculum will come in time. Feel free to scratch out rough calendars, but know that curriculum is an easier piece than systems because your dept. will have materials (hopefully), you’ll find a mentor teacher willing to share her lesson ideas (hopefully), and you can always scoop up free and low-cost lesson materials at TeachersPayTeachers once the year is rolling.
For now, just think big picture about how you want to run the show. Last year, I built a 10-part YouTube series on classroom management with new teachers like you in mind. If you haven’t already seen the videos, they might be worth some time.
Finally, I just have to say, you have a pretty sweet schedule for a newbie; I’m taking that as a sign you’ve landed in a good department with folks who care about building talent. Awesome! Have fun with your kids and memorize their names quickly.
Okay, everyone, what other advice can we give Sarah? If you had just six weeks before seeing kids for the very first time, how would you prep?
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