Saturday, July 1, 2017

New Teachers~ Top 5 things to do Now!

Hello Friends!

I am so glad to be back blogging about a passion of mine.  I had a realization or {ah ha moment if you will} last year when I almost left the classroom to pursue a math coach position.  I knew the job would be assisting others with their math needs as well as working with small groups of children.  It was then that I realized that I was not interested in coaching veteran teachers.  It was also then that I realized that I wanted to work with the future teachers~ the ones who are wide eyed, ask great thought provoking questions, and have that untainted love for teaching.  If you are a just graduated ~just got your first teaching job~ teacher... congrats to you!  I am so happy you are here finding ideas of what you can do to start your new journey.  How exciting! 

So let's get on with it.

What can you do now?  
These are ideas that you can do with or without classroom access. :)

This is not something that you can just think up on the spot.  This is not something that you can create when the first paper airplane flies by.  This is something that you need to think through.  It is something that you need 100% buy in.  If you don't even believe in it, how will your students?

Here are some things to think about:

What will be your classroom expectations?
Will you have classroom rules? If so, what will they be?
OR will you write your rules with your students?
What if a child breaks one of your rules?  What will your consequences be and will they vary depending on the circumstance?
How will you contact parents?
What would the behavior be that would warrant a call home to parents?  
If you want your student to bring home a behavior slip, what will it look like?
See mine HERE

OK... that is just part of it... yes, there is more.

Will you have any type of "system" in place?

Wait, system? What do you mean?
I mean...
Will the kids earn tickets?
Will they clip on a chart?
Will they earn classroom money?
Put a marble in a jar?
Earn a "fuzzy"?
Will this be for... whole group... small group and/or individuals?
Would you consider doing a whole group AND an individual management system?

And what about this... will your students be REWARDED?

Oh boy... and you thought we were done.

Will you have ... {gulp} prizes?

Will you possibly use something like:

As you can see, this is a MAJOR task.  This is something that needs some time and some thinking.  
Make sure it is something that fits YOU.
Just because your best friend/cooperating teacher/blogger you don't know is using it, doesn't mean it is the best idea for you.


Ok.  I think I'm done.  No wait... haha.. just kidding. ;)

Wait a minute.  I thought I just decided on a plan you say.

Weeellll you did.  But that was just your every day plan for a happy, safe, and teachable environment.

THIS, my friend, is for your guided reading block.

Now, you might have a curriculum or district that will set this up for you.  OR you might have a teammate that will share his/her ideal reading block plan.

BUT it doesn't hurt to investigate.

If you teach in the elementary grades, you will most likely be doing a guided reading block.

You cannot do that successfully without a plan of what your other 20 something kids are doing.

So, think about this....

Will you incorporate The Daily 5
Will you do a Reading Workshop?
Will you create centers/task cards for your students?
If so, what kind?

I would reach out to your future teammates and ask about your reading block time.  IF they tell you that you have the choice of what to do during that time, then start thinking this one through.

If you decide to go the Daily 5 route... it is one that I like to start the first week of school and it must be taught.

You can't just say to your students... ok class... I'm going to take these 5 kids and you all just read quietly until I am done.

Umm.... no...just no.

Expectations, rules, what to do if's, all need to be TAUGHT before you even start guided reading.

You can read all about what to do NOW to prep Daily 5 Here.

Yay... a super fun one!  Let's talk... books!!

If you just inherited a retired teacher's entire classroom library (LUCKY) you can skip to #4.  If not, read on...

Accumulating a classroom library is extremely important.  The authors of The Daily 5 suggest a library of 1,000 books or more!  Whaaaat?


Where do I find these books you ask?
Well here are some ideas:

Thursdays- Saturdays find all the garage sales
Savers and Goodwill have a ton
Scholastic Book Clubs
Online garage sales in your town (i.e. "mom groups")
Ask your FB friends for donations

THEN, once you have accumulated a good amount, you need to decide how you want to organize them.
Depending on your grade this might sway your decision.

Some things to think about:
Will you organize your books by level?
If so, what kind of level? (F&P, Lexile, DRA)
Will you organize your books by genre?
Do you need baskets?
Will your students be storing books they have chosen?

You can check out this classroom library management system HERE.  I marked it down just for you. <3

I cannot stress this one enough (which is why It is 3 written 3 times ;)

Procedures can make or break a classroom.

You will spend your first 2-3 weeks talking about procedures and routines until you are blue in the face.

Here are some things you will want to think about and have a definite idea about BEFORE the kids walk into your classroom:

Get a list of the school supplies the kids will be bringing.  Decide ahead of time what will happen with ALL of those supplies.  The first day is a supply nightmare... unless you have a plan.  Decide if you will have any community supplies (like pencils and markers).  Will you keep any extra supplies in a separate place?  I always have a Ziploc bag for each child labeled with their name and ready for extra supplies (like if a kid brings 2 glue sticks--- one for the desk--- one for the bag).
Decide where all the big stuff is going to go like Kleenex, Ziploc bags, Baby wipes etc. because they take up a lot of space.

You will need a plan.
How many will the kids get?
What happens to the broken ones?  How will new ones get sharpened (this might seem silly but if there are any veteran teachers out there reading this they are nodding their heads right now ;)

What are they used for?
Do they need labels?

Where will the kids put papers that are completed.
Where will homework go?
How will papers get back to the kids- do you want mailboxes?

What will your bathroom policy be?
Do they need a pass? {tip- don't let them take a pass to the bathroom (eeewww)- have them leave the pass on their desk so you know where they are at a glance}
 I also use "thumbs up so I don't interrupt" as a signal when kids need to go to the bathroom.

Do you want a signal for kids to listen?
A chime? A rain stick? A chant? Music?
How will the kids transition?
Survey your classroom space- do you have or want cozy areas for the kids to read/ do their work?
Will you try out flexible seating?

There is more but let's stop and let you digest all of that. :)

This is a biggie.  It's your FIRST YEAR as a TEACHER!  Maybe you've dreamt about having your own classroom since you were a little girl/boy and now it is happening!
It will be so exciting.
You will love all of it.
But it will be exhausting.
You will find yourself in tough moments too.
It will be a roller coaster.
No, not the kiddie one.  The big one with the drops that make your stomach go into your mouth.  The one you are terrified at first, think you might die, and then it's done and you are back in line again because it was the best. ride. ever.
Yes, teaching is like that.  Just. like. that.

In those moments when you feel a big drop coming, find your support that can get you through it.

Reach out to your new teammates.  You will WANT their support this year so I suggest getting to know them NOW.
Invite them to coffee and talk about stuff that is not school related.  They will love that you reached out and you are building that bridge.  win win.

Find other new teachers.  Check out Facebook or Instagram.  Chances are they are wondering the same things you are.

I have created a small exclusive group for new teachers just like you on Facebook.  I'd love for you to join us.  Never be afraid to ask questions!  That is how you learn and people want to help you.  We have ALL been there- made mistakes (boy do I have stories!)- but it turns out ok- I learned and survived.

Join my Facebook Group Here :)

Oh, and if you haven't yet, check out Teachers Pay Teachers.  It will be a lifesaver.  I promise.

Because this post is already GINORMOUS... I'll make this part quick.
All links to Amazon are Affiliate Links.  See Disclosure below. 

1. A teacher planner ~ I like this one
2. Flair Pens
3. A personal laminator
4. Fadeless paper (yes make sure it is fadeless)
5. Desk stuff: stapler, scotch tape, masking tape, scissors, paper clips etc. and LABEL THEM ;)
6. Electric pencil Sharpener (the best!)

Then head to the "Teacher Store" if you have one and think about things like: borders, posters, stickers, hall passes etc.

Have fun but don't get carried away- it is VERY EASY to spend your first paycheck on your classroom.

Make sure you ask your school secretary about discretionary funds and/or a supply budget you might get for the year.  Also, your PTA might have funds for you too.  Ask around!

Please let me know of other questions, issues, topics, you'd like me to address in the comments!  

Thanks so much for stopping by.
Enjoy the new teacher ride... it will be awesome.

Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: Tori's Teacher Tips is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. If you click on an affiliate link on this blog and purchase, Amazon will send a small percentage back to me which will support this blog.  Thank you.


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  50. Hey Tori!
    So, I am the Director of Education of a NGO in Ghana called City of Refuge Ministries ( We work with kids who have been rescued from trafficking, are orphaned or abandoned. We have a school here called Faith Roots International Academy and this year, we have attempted to start Daily 5 in our classrooms. This is a challenge with limited exposure for our teachers at this type of classroom structure, limited supplies, and training needs. We would love to have someone who is very familiar with the Daily 5 model who would be interested in coming and volunteering with us to teach and train this Daily 5--make it very applicable and doable in these classrooms here.
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