Lori Goodson, Editor
Mary Hammel, Technical Editor
Check out this feature on one of your KSU colleagues, Jessi Sands: Article
She’s being recognized for her work with her Writing Center at Seaman High School. She was even the lead item in an issue of the ELA SmartBrief. If that sounds familiar, it’s because you had a Content Area Literacy professor who encouraged you to sign up for it! Here’s the link just in case you haven’t signed up yet: ELA SmartBrief. It’s filled with tons of useful articles on creative classroom practices.
Are you or a colleague thinking about advancing your career by beginning a master’s degree?
Your KSU COE is now offering a master’s degree that is totally online and can be completed in just 15 months! And, if you’d like, you can get a graduate certificate in educational technology or a license as a reading specialist as part of the degree for no extra hours or cost.
Want more information? Check out this link!
School district: Chisholm Trail Middle School
City/State: Olathe, KS
Class/content area taught: 6th grade ELA and Disciplinary Literacy
What you are most excited about with your new career: It’s been such a joy. I am so lucky to have such amazing co-workers who make the transition so much less intimidating.
Someone from KSU who was especially helpful preparing you for your new career: I definitely have to say Vicki Sherbert! If I could give her a portion of my salary, I would! She deserves all the praise in the world.
Her advice for new teachers:
- Bring snacks to school. It’s hard to get into a routine of bringing your lunch.
- Similar to that, keep cash on you. You never know when it’ll come in handy!
- Look over your class rosters as early as you can; it’ll make the name learning process much easier.
- Don’t be afraid to ask the veteran teachers for their materials/lesson plans, no one expects you to make up everything from scratch.
- Make things work for you! Don’t assume that just because you have less experience that everything that was done a certain way in the past must be the same forever, you’re a pair of fresh eyes.
- Never forget to use the advantage you have in terms of your age. You’re most likely the closest in age to the students than anyone in the building. This gives you a sense of empathy and makes you an awesome mentor to students.
- Go to bed early. Even on Thursdays. 🙂
- Pick out what you’re going to wear the night before.
- Coaching/Sponsoring is an awesome opportunity to both meet new kids and make a little bit of extra money!
- People WANT you to succeed. Your friends, co-workers, past teachers, administrators are all there to make your journey as pleasant as possible!
Why don’t you send us a photo of you at work in your classroom! Or, do you have a question about classroom procedures? 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 list? At the very least, just email and say hi!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Go, COE Cats!
We want to help beginning and early career teachers like you thrive in your career! Check out #WeAreEdCats for teaching tips and to stay in touch with the COE! Check out the website at coe.k-state.edu/edcats.
So…maybe I’m not the BEST person to write this, but….
Amid all the new things you’re learning—bell schedules and assembly procedures, as well as the names of 135 or so of your very favorite students and a batch of new computer passwords and codes, one important area you will need to become comfortable with is record keeping.
As a new teacher, you’re probably realizing all the requirements for your new position, but good record keeping will save you plenty of headaches through the year. Absences, tardies, missing assignments, grades, and communication with students’ families and guardians are just a few of the details you’ll need to record. So let’s look at some suggestions that, hopefully, will make your daily teaching duties a little easier!
Communication Log: Communication—with families and guardians, colleagues, administrators, education leaders, and community members—is so important, and in the midst of lesson plans, activities, and classroom management, it can easily get lost.
- Consider recording dates you attempted to contact (by phone or through email) parents/guardians and dates you successfully contacted parents/guardians regarding specific student concerns or successes. Make a brief note of the topic of communication and any decisions or input.
- Record dates/copies of student behavior referrals.
- Record ideas/suggestions gathered through your various communications.
- File family/guardian emails in a separate folder on your computer for easy access.
Attendance: When you’re dealing with 30 or more students, keeping track of attendance can be a daunting task! While you’ll probably have a computer program that your school uses to record students who are absent or tardy, you’ll probably want to include your own personal system, as well.
- Develop a way to organize papers and other materials that absent students will need when they return.
- Try using a folder posted on a board or in a designated spot and placing any materials in it with specific students’ names on them. If you teach multiple classes, clearly label a folder for each class.
- Keep a list of students and their missing assignments. Many grading programs will generate these for you. Consider printing out two copies—a master copy for you and then a copy of each student’s missing assignments. Hand out a list of missing assignments to each student; handing these out on Fridays can be especially helpful to give them the weekend to address their missing assignments.
Grades: Keeping up with the grading and maintaining accurate grade sheets are always a concern for teachers—new and veteran teachers alike. Here are some suggestions.
- Keep a basket on your desk so students will know where assignments go when they’re completed.
- Try to grade papers—and empty that basket—by the end of the day on Fridays. What doesn’t get taken care of by then probably needs to go home over the weekend. Try to always start your week with an empty assignment basket for a fresh start to your week.
- If you teach more than one class, have a folder for each class where you place assignments to be returned after they’ve been assessed.
- Group assignments and enter grades by the class, if possible. As late assignments come in, mark those students’ names off the missing assignments list.
- Just to be safe…periodically, especially if it has been a busy assignment time, print off the whole-class grade sheet and file in a secure place. If technology would fail (when you least expect it), you will have a backup.
You’ve given your students grades; now it’s time for you to be graded. But, just as you want all of your students to be successful, your administrator wants you to succeed as well. He or she has put time an energy in selecting you and supporting you, and the teacher evaluations are just another sign that they want you to be the best teacher you can be.
Hopefully, you have visited with your administrator about the formal evaluations. He or she can share the number of times you’ll be formally observed and the process.
Usually, you’ll have a pre-evaluation meeting, followed by the formal observation. After that, you’ll likely have a formal meeting. For this part, make sure you complete any required forms. In many districts, you’re required to provide a detailed lesson plan (and possibly a one-page, brief version), seating chart, a brief narrative regarding the class, and copies of any materials you use during the class. Include anything to help him or her “see” what’s going on in the class—and anything to simplify the process.
You’ll probably find that, if you’ve built a relationship with your students, they’ll step up during the formal observation to help you succeed. Be sure to appreciate how they jump in to respond to your questions, sit still when they need to be sitting still, etc. We’ve rarely see students (big or small) misbehave intentionally during a formal observation.
For the pre-observation and post-observation meetings, share strengths and weaknesses. A good administrator will listen to your self-evaluation and help you strengthen the areas you believe need some help. Much like you work with your students, he or she should be eager to help you succeed.
As a new teacher, you will find an administrator may visit your room anytime. (It’s even been known for a superintendent to make an impromptu visit to a classroom now and then, as well.) The best way to prepare for that is to make sure you’re ready every morning. Often, it’s best to take a few minutes at the end of the day to set up for the following day’s classes. Get your materials photocopied, organized, etc., so you don’t have to do any searching as the students arrive in your classroom the next morning.
These evaluations early in your career are extremely typical. If anything, consider it a sign of support—that your administrators want to make sure you’re doing well in your classroom and want to know if there are steps they can take to help you be successful.
After the first year, the pressure of evaluations eases up quite a bit—especially if you’ve proven you’re qualified and comfortable in the role of a classroom teacher.
Am I right, second-year teachers? Are you remembering the butterflies of that first evaluation? Be sure to email and share some of your thoughts!
A couple of your favorite faculty members provided tips on how to manage the workload (grading papers, etc.) without sacrificing quality.
Dr. Vicki Sherbert (Secondary English/Language Arts, Speech/Theatre, Journalism)—“I learned early on to not “over grade” everything. If I made a writing assignment, learned to share with students what I would be grading this time (conventions, word choice, ideas & content). I learned to focus on one or two goals or objectives.”
Dr. Brad Burenheide (Secondary Social Studies)—“Little tricks to make it more efficient when grading (a separate answer sheet so you are only dealing with one piece of paper), answering emails in bunches.”
Since you may find yourself surrounded by sneezes in your classroom at some point in the next few weeks, take some steps to protect yourself from germs—and keep yourself from missing a few days of school. Try to:
- Get a flu shot to limit your chances of getting sick.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Eat healthy foods.
- Wash your hands regularly.
- Get eight hours of sleep (even if that means that last set of papers has to be graded the next day).