First-Year Teaching For Dummies
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This Cheat Sheet summarizes how to handle some of the tricky parts of being a first-year teacher, including planning for a substitute teacher, keys to a successful teaching observation, what you should get done during the first week of school, and how to deal with minor behavior problems.

Planning for a substitute teacher

Don’t leave your substitute teacher in the lurch! Give them more than just lesson plans (although definitely do leave those). Make sure you also include the following:

  • A copy of your schedule, including the times each class begins and ends
  • Your seating chart (kids will try to sit wherever they want if they see a sub in the room)
  • A map showing how to get from class to class if you’re a floating teacher
  • A description of what to do in case of a fire or other emergency drill, including the evacuation route your kids are supposed to follow
  • Any important information about individual students:
  • Medical conditions and instructions to follow if the condition flares up during class
  • Important parts of an Individualized Education Program (IEP), such as “Student should not be required to read in front of the class”
  • An explanation of how and when to assign hallway passes, and any procedures you have in place that differ from the norm
  • A description of your duty assignments and an explanation about how to fulfill the responsibilities of each
  • The name and room number of a nearby teacher of the same subject or grade level, who can help out and answer questions the sub may have
  • Your phone number, so that the sub can call you if they have any questions
  • A list of kids who are trustworthy in each class (but ask that the list not be made public)

Keys to a successful observation

If a supervisor or administrator is rating your class, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Make sure your lesson includes any elements required by your school district.
  • Showcase your best material.
  • Don’t make any dramatic changes to your class on observation day.
  • Demonstrate your relationship with students.
  • Don’t worry about a little bit of noise in the room.
  • Try to involve all your kids in the lesson.

Things to accomplish during the first week of school

Set yourself up for success by completing these tasks:

  • Highlight the important rules in your classroom.
  • Discuss emergency and safety procedures.
  • Distribute textbooks, laptops, and other school-furnished supplies as soon as possible.
  • Explain your grading system.
  • Distribute introduction cards to collect information.
  • Discuss any major projects for the year.
  • List the field trips you’ll take.
  • Explain how to get extra help.
  • Use ice breaker activities to build community.

How to handle minor behavior problems

Here are a few things you can do to squelch bad behavior without resorting to administrators:

  • Use proximity: Approach and stand beside the culprit.
  • Give the offender the icy stare of death.
  • Defuse potential distractions with humor.
  • Employ a distraction.
  • Rearrange your seating chart.
  • Isolate the offender.
  • Don’t be stingy on detentions.
  • Call a parent or coach and outline your concerns.
  • Send kids to another teacher.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

W. Michael Kelley started as a high school math teacher and has spent 30 years teaching and training people of all ages. Carol Flaherty is a 25-year veteran elementary school teacher who spent most of her years teaching first and fourth grades. Flirtisha Harris has been teaching secondary school for more than 20 years in Texas and southern Maryland.

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