Sunday, August 06, 2006


Most of the Class of 2008 will start their first day with students this week. A few, including Mr. Fiel, started last week.

I imagine everyone is nervous. They've been preparing for two months and then, all of a sudden, it seems like there is no time for everything that needs to be done. And there isn't.

One of the hardest things about teaching is adjusting to the pace. There is so much to be responsible for, so much to do, that, at times, it can be paralyzing. The day doesn't end at 3:05. The day doesn't end at 5:00. For most, the day doesn't end, you simply fall asleep.

On the eve of the first week of school here are seven (more) suggestions for our new teachers (and for all new teachers):

1) Make sure you have comfortable shoes.

2) Do not, under any circumstances, ask any questions during staff meetings, orientation, workshops, etc. Even if it is a good question, relevant to the entire group, it will annoy the veteran teachers. Most of the time, it is a dumb question that everyone knows the answer to and that should be asked one on one.

3) Give homework the first few days. Even though I almost never gave homework I always gave some on the first few days so that the kids would know this was going to be a serious class.

4) If your district has some inane policy where you need to read the handbook to the students for the first three days, ignore this. Spend ten minutes on the handbook and then go into covering your first day lesson plan (whether it is covering your rules and procedures, or actual subject matter). Nothing sets a worse tone for class than doing nothing but the district handbook for three days except...

5) Holding homeroom. In the likely event that you will have to hold homeroom (while the office gets the rosters ready) for a day or two have plenty of activities (jigsaw puzzles, coloring books, word searches, board games, movies) to take up the endless hours.

6) Don't teach anything new for at least two weeks. Review or do a separate unit that is independent of your main curriculum (a short story, ACT prep, essay writing) as your class roll will change dramatically over the next two weeks. If you are keeping a physical grade book don't put anyone's name in it yet. Make photocopies and use that for the first few weeks.

7) Go back and look at the second-year blogs from last August and September. See what their struggles were, what they would have done differently...

Bonus: Here is my post from last August about my first day of school.

Good luck to everyone. I know you are nervous but, as I've said before, 350 people before you have been in your shoes...

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