Cheat Sheet

Rookie Teaching For Dummies

From Rookie Teaching For Dummies by W. Michael Kelley

As a rookie teacher, you face a brand new world of establishing classroom rules, handling minor misbehavior, and standing up under scrutiny from higher-ups. And when you can’t be in your classroom, you need to prepare things for your substitute.

What to Accomplish on the First Day of School as a Rookie Teacher

Facing your first year of teaching is certainly exciting and possibly a little bit daunting. As a rookie teacher, you need to set the right tone from the get-go. Try to get as many of the things in the following list out of the way on your first day:

  • Explain the important rules of your classroom; pass out a printed copy of these rules for your students and their parents to sign and return to you.

  • Discuss emergency and safety procedures.

  • Introduce yourself to your kids.

  • Explain your grading system.

  • Pass out textbooks.

  • Collect a card including parental information, phone number, and home address.

  • Discuss major projects and milestones for the year.

  • Explain how to get extra help or tutoring.

How to Handle Minor Behavior Problems as a Rookie Teacher

Any teacher’s toughest problem is maintaining discipline in the classroom. As a rookie teacher, you can benefit by using the tips in the following list to help solve minor problems without involving the main office.

  • Walk toward the offending student’s desk and stand beside it, but don’t interrupt what you’re saying or doing.

  • Shoot the icy stare of death.

  • Use humor to defuse explosive situations.

  • Rearrange your seating chart.

  • Threaten the loss of privileges or additional homework.

  • Give a pop quiz.

  • Give detentions generously.

  • Call a parent or coach.

  • Send the student to another teacher’s room.

How to Plan for a Substitute Teacher

As a rookie teacher, you know the queasy feeling you get when you walk into a classroom unprepared. Don’t leave your substitute teacher in the lurch! Don’t just leave lesson plans — make sure you also include the following:

  • A copy of your class schedule (and the bell schedule if your school has one)

  • A seating chart for every class (if you don’t assign seats, make sure you indicate that)

  • A map of the school, including directions to each of your rooms if you teach in more than one or if students receive instruction in other rooms (like the music room or gymnasium)

  • Emergency instructions, including the evacuation route assigned to your room (if you have multiple rooms, include the evacuation routes for all of them)

  • Important information about students, including medical conditions

  • A copy of all your policies, including bathroom and hall-pass policies

  • A complete student roster, on which the substitute can record attendance

  • An explanation of all your duty assignments (substitutes usually have to fulfill duties as well as cover classes)

  • The name and room number of a nearby teacher who can help out if things go wrong or add to the assignment if the kids are finishing too early

  • A list of trustworthy kids in each class (and perhaps a list of kids the substitute should keep an eye on)

  • Your home phone number, so that the substitute can contact you if all else fails

Do not leave your grade book behind, even if you trust the substitute, because you cannot guarantee its safety or security.

Keys to a Successful Classroom Observation

As a rookie teacher — or an experienced teacher — you’ll get periodic classroom visits from a supervisor or administrator whose purpose is to rate your class and your abilities as a teacher. During these observations, keep the following in mind:

  • Include lesson plan elements required by your school district (such as the anticipatory set, learning objectives, review and wrap-up at the end, and so on).

  • Showcase your best material.

  • Move about the room during class.

  • Don’t make any big changes to the way you do things in class.

  • Show that you and your students get along.

  • Don’t worry if your kids aren’t absolutely silent, unless your supervisor is grimacing.

  • Involve lots of kids in the lesson, making sure to speak to different areas of the room, to both sexes, and to students who don’t raise their hand as well as those who do.

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