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Welcome to a New Career, New School Year

Welcome to your new school year! This is an amazing time, and we are excited to continue with you on this journey!

For many of you, 2017-18 is your first school year as a teacher, and that makes this August just a little more significant than all those others that have come before it. For others, you’re beginning your second or third or fourth year with your own classroom—wanting to build upon what you accomplished last year…and maybe avoid a few of those bumps you experienced. How do I know about the bumps? Well, we’re a little hesitant to admit to it, but we’ve all been there. Every teacher experiences those through the year.

Kansas State University’s College of Education is here to help. This newsletter is designed to give you specific and practical tips to help you successfully navigate through your early years of teaching. Look for topics that address the various issues as the school year moves along—from setting up your classroom to preparing for conferences with parents to wrapping up the room for the summer. Likewise, we’re hoping to remind you early-career teachers of a few things and provide some new ideas, as well, to help you continue to be successful. (OK, so my first year of teaching, I dismissed a class at the warning bell and had to round them all back up! It happens!)

We’ll also include some information about new programs we’re putting into place—just for new teachers. Dean Debbie Mercer has made it a priority to help you out as much as possible, so look for several opportunities where we can lend our support. Hopefully, some of you took advantage of the EdFest that Dr. Tonnie Martinez led in June; if not, be looking for similar opportunities in the future! (And if you’re not seeing what you need, just email me…lagoodson@k-state.edu…and we’ll do our very best to address your specific concerns and questions. Even if you don’t have questions or concerns, I’d love to hear from you!)

We hope you’ll enjoy our ideas and suggestions and keep in touch with us as you move through lesson plans, lunch counts, and assessments. It’s our way of reminding you that you’re not alone…and that the COE Wildcats are here to support you in any way possible.

Whether it’s your first year or beyond, you’ve begun an amazing journey. The great thing about teaching is that every August your journey begins again, only you’ll have more practical wisdom to make it even more successful! Thanks for letting us be a part of it! Stay purple!

In the Classroom…LOTS of Classrooms, Actually

It seems as though quite a few KSU College of Education graduates are staying right here in Manhattan! Here’s a photo of the new teachers with USD 383 Manhattan-Ogden taking a break from preparing for the new year by showing their K-State pride.

Others, though, are traveling to various parts of the state and beyond to begin their careers.

Name: Adam Bliesner, shown above being welcomed by his principal, Shawn Koehn (left)

School district: USD 419

City/State: Canton, KS

Class/content area taught: Secondary Business Education

What are you most excited about with your new career: “I am excited to start. I spent three and a half years getting my license to teach and now I get to apply my studies! I am excited to see where this teaching journey takes me.

What you enjoy most about teaching: “I enjoy the connection with students. I enjoy being a part of the student’s success in reaching their goals and dreams.”

In what ways has your school/district supported you? “My school has supported me by giving access to my classroom six weeks before school started and access to the educator that taught the content for 36 years! All the students and faculty I have met have received me warmly. The faculty has offered their support in anything I need. I have contacts for multiple teachers in the school and the year has not even started.”

What are some specific ways you believe KSU especially helped prepare you for your new career? “KSU gave me a firm foundation to build from. Foundations of education, teaching in multicultural society, exceptional students, and interpersonal relations in schools gave me the perspective of the challenges students face. Career and technical education exposed me to the benefits of technology in the classroom.”

What are specifics about your background that make teaching the perfect fit for you? “I am a United States Air Force retiree, and teaching is a perfect fit because it allows me to give back. I have been through and seen a lot of different places, situations and job changes. My experience allows me to connect, support and encourage the next generation of leaders.”

Suggestions/encouragement for new teachers: “The first year is difficult in any profession. It is like getting into a pool. The best way to get in is to jump in. Of course there is hesitation, apprehension and concern for the unknown. The hardest step is the first one. Remember why you decided to become a teacher, the work you put in to get your license and go for it!”

Other thoughts? “The education profession is special. There is a tremendous amount of support in and around education. There are other teachers, administrators, colleges, businesses, and organizations that desire to see you succeed and develop as a teacher. Use the support around you and ask questions. Don’t be afraid to start. All have been there. There are students waiting for you. They need you to learn. We all have something to teach. Teach it!”

Have a Great Start to Your Year

We all know how important first impressions are, and that’s especially true with the beginning of your school year. We also know that poor first impressions often are difficult to undo. So it’s important that you have a strong beginning to your year. But how do you go about it?

  • Have (at minimum) your first day’s materials ready to go. You don’t want to be madly searching for copies of handouts while your students are waiting for you to take charge.
  • Have a filing system that categorizes your information by classes.
  • Greet your students at the door so they know you’re excited, you’re prepared, and you’re in charge.
  • Have a seating arrangement in place before your students ever enter the room. It creates less disruption, especially if the seating chart is posted on the overhead screen as they walk in. If you don’t want assigned seats, make sure your students can get seated as effortlessly as possible.
  • If you can, send a quick note home to your students before the first day of school—especially if you have a particular home base group or small group that you’ll be responsible for through the year. Send a postcard or an email with a brief note saying you’re excited about having them in class and that it’s going to be a great year. That gives you an early connection with the students and their families. It also opens the lines of communication before the first bell even rings.
  • Establish basic rules on the first day; have them posted to reinforce them. But keep the list small and manageable.  For example, “Respect” is a one-word rule that covers nearly everything.
  • Avoid referring to students’ mothers and fathers; today, family can be defined in a variety of ways.
  • Smile…even though it’s not Thanksgiving yet. We’ve all heard the idea that teachers shouldn’t smile until Thanksgiving; don’t take it literally. There’s no need to scowl. Instead, the real intent of that saying is for you to be ready to manage your class as needed. As for smiling, give it a try. It will help you and your students feel a little more comfortable in the first days of the semester as you all get to know each other.

Be Prepared for Day 1

You turn the key and unlock your classroom…for the first time ever. You’re stepping into a career you’ve been working toward for years. It’s amazing; it’s exciting; it’s…overwhelming. Students will be arriving in a few days, so how to you get your first school year as a teacher off to the strongest start possible? You…jump in and get started.

As a new teacher, you’ll quickly realize time is a valuable commodity, and it will be through the entire first year of your career. You’re moving into a new arena, where you have many decisions to make and a great deal of planning to do. Here are some quick, practical tips to get your room, your lessons, and your mind ready for the first day of school.

SETTING UP THE ROOM

One of the most exciting moments is walking into your very own classroom. You have the opportunity to “design” your room—as much as the facilities and furniture will allow. That means you can implement some of those ideas you’ve discussed in your COE classes.

What kind of seating arrangement do you want?

IDEA: If you’re concerned about behavior management, consider putting desks in orderly rows. If you want some student collaboration through the school year, group desks. For the most in collaboration (yet probably also requiring the most of your skills in behavior management), opt for tables rather than desks.

If you’re feeling more comfortable about classroom management, especially if you’re beginning your second year, feel free to experiment a little to make your room more conducive to learning.


Which way do you want your students facing?

IDEA: Try to achieve the fewest distractions (windows, hallway traffic, etc.) and greatest focus on the lesson (clear line of sight to boards and overhead screens, for example).


What kind of foot-traffic path do you want to create in your room?

IDEA: Set up your room so students have easy access from the classroom door to their desks. It will help with classroom management and safety issues, as well as any fire or tornado drills that occur through the year.


school suppliesWhere do you want to locate supplies your students will need on a regular basis (writing folders, textbooks, etc.)?

IDEA: Think easy access and routine. Use a file cabinet drawer or storage crate for each class period’s writing folders or other material. Make sure the cabinet is easily accessible for your students. Make space on a shelf for each class’s textbooks, if you need to store them through the day. No matter what grade level you’re teaching, several plastic tubs of varying sizes will come in handy for compartmentalizing highlighters, markers, etc.


Where can you place your own desk so it provides student access…but not SO much access that it will become a distraction?

IDEA: Angle your desk in a corner that gives you good visibility around the room but also takes up a minimal amount of space.


What types of “decorations” would you like on your walls? A theme approach? Inspirational items? Content-connected items? A few personal items to share your personality with your students?

IDEA: Begin with minimum décor; post times for various activities, key information that you want them to remember (ex: a process for checking out a book), lesson objectives, essential questions, etc. There will be plenty of time later on to create a truly personal learning area.


Are you a bulletin board person? How can you best use that space?

IDEA: Use one bulletin board—the one students have the most access to—for business…to post schedules, announcements, and other materials your students will need; use a less accessible spot for less vital items, such as photos and other materials that show your personality.

We want to hear from you!

e-mail iconDo you have a question about classroom procedures? Or a suggestion for a topic we should address in Before the Bell? Want to add your name to our mailing list? Or provide a different email for our mailing list? Or, why don’t you send us a photo of you at work in your classroom!

Early-career teachers, feel free to jump in and offer suggestions to those who are following your career choice!

We’d love to hear from you, so please email us at lagoodson@k-state.edu.

Go, COE Cats!

In Our Next Issue….

September calendar iconWhat an exciting time! Next month, we’ll offer you some more tips for being successful. Plus we’ll feature more of your COE colleagues out in the classroom. Be sure to read next month’s newsletter for:

  • Ideas on the importance of procedures and routines
  • Planning for a substitute
  • Getting ready for your first parent/student/teacher conferences
  • A few words of advice from some of your favorite professors!