New Teacher-So many questions!!!

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by NewTeacher12345, Jul 5, 2019.

  1. NewTeacher12345

    NewTeacher12345 New Member

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    Jul 5, 2019

    Hi everyone, so I just recently accepted a first grade teaching position, which will be my very first teaching job out of college. I haven't received much information from my school yet but I have so many questions about being a teacher in general. I hope the answers to my questions aren't too obvious but I would love some answers/advice!!

    1. Given the fact that I just accepted this job 2 days ago, I don't have access to any curriculum. I know the math and reading programs that my school will use, but how do I go about planning it all out for the year? I loved student teaching, but I wish the one thing my cooperating teacher did was show me how to plan and if theres a rhyme or reason for what is taught during each part of the year. Do curriculums usually go in order? Like literally starting on page one on day 1?? This may not make any sense but I just want to be prepared before the first day of school.

    2. In what grade are IEP's first written?
    3. Are teachers usually supplied with any books for their classroom or do I need to get all of them?
    4. Running Records-To administer a running record, how do you know which reading level book to have students read orally? Is it always one above their current level to see if they need to move up?

    Sorry so many questions but I am looking forward to your answers/advice!!
     
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  3. RainStorm

    RainStorm Aficionado

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    Jul 5, 2019

    Congrats on your new job! First jobs are always so exciting, but don't get overwhelmed.

    First of all, many large school districts or schools provide a pacing guide -- telling what to teach, and in what order. They do this to make certain that all first grade classes are at about the same place, and the same time. Ask your principal if there is a copy of the pacing guide. You may want to ask your principal for the names and emails of your grade level colleagues. That way you can ask many questions without feeling like you are bothering the principal all the time.

    If your district or school doesn't provide a pacing guide, contact your new colleagues. More than likely at least one of them will be willing to share their pacing guide from last year, to give you some ideas about how long it will take to teach certain subjects, based on the resources based at your school. Most veteran teachers remember what it was like to be new, and are willing to help, so long as you don't overwhelm them with too many questions.

    Ask your principal if you have a mentor assigned, and how to contact that person. This person will help you learn the culture of your school, and specific requirements that may not be obvious at first.

    Ask your principal or mentor when you can come by to pick up the teacher's editions of the books you will be using. That is a very common request, and no one will think you are "bugging them" by asking.

    Do curriculums usually go in order? Not typically. Sometimes they do, but more than likely they jump around to meet specific state standards. Again, a pacing guide is essential. If one isn't provided by the school, ask, ask, ask for help in designing yours. As a first-year teacher, you will find this aspect of planning to be very difficult without support. Don't be afraid to ask for help! If yo don't get help, keep asking! You will have a hard time succeeding without a solid pacing guide. It makes lesson planning so much easier.

    As to IEPs, they can be written in Kindergarten when needed, so you may have some. Your school's special education teacher will probably be in touch with you about this closer to the beginning of school -- generally the week before school starts. Once you get your class list (this usually happens during pre-service week (the week before school starts), so don't panic if you don't have it yet. Then you will have access to your student's files, generally located in the office. You are expected to look through each one, and that is often where the actual IEPs are stored. If not stored here, they are usually at least mentioned here, so you will know they exist, and to ask the special ed teacher for access.

    Teacher's usually provide their own classroom library. But before you buy anything, check with the school. Often, previous teachers leave theirs behind, and you may be able to get some books that way. In some schools, especially in K and 1, the schools provide many of the classroom library books. But if they don't, don't panic. Most schools allow teacher's to check-out up to 30 books at a time from the library. Most public libraries allow teachers to check-out up to 30 books. You can manage quite nicely with these until you acquire your own. (Just don't let these books leave your classroom -- no letting students take them home -- so you don't end up having to pay for a bunch of lost books.) Don't go out and spend a bunch of money right now. Wait til you know specifically what you will need.

    For running records, there should be the last one they did in their literacy folder. Look at that, and either select that level (if they struggled last year) or a level higher (if they were at the top of the scoring) and you will have a nice starting point. If they are new, start them with a lower level (kindergarten) and see how they do. Move up, if needed. What you don't want to do is start too high -- they will become frustrated and shut down if you start too high. Better to start too low, and move up, if needed. Don't over-estimate their level -- it is better to under-estimate so you will see more growth during the year. Teachers are often evaluated based on their student's literacy growth. Just saying...

    Obviously, every district is different. I hope this helps a bit. Good luck and enjoy your new teaching experience!
     
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  4. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Jul 5, 2019

    As already suggested, your best bet is to email your principal and ask if you can be connected with whoever your mentor will be. Then set up some time to meet with that person and ask all of your questions - well, not all of your questions... prioritize them and start with the most important, knowing that everything won’t get answered right away and that more questions will come up in conversation. After that, trust that your school with provide you with a proper orientation and training. Don’t rush out to buy things... Some schools really do buy their teachers books and classroom materials! Try to relax and wait for the time when you get to meet your mentor and attend orientation. It will be a whirlwind doing all of that and settling up your classroom in the days before school starts, so clear your schedule! Trust that it will all work out. There will be some kinks to work out, but everything will work out. Your mentor and teammates will show you the way.
     
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  5. Aces

    Aces Habitué

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    Jul 6, 2019

    1) Reach out to your school, ask what they have as far as new teacher resources. Often this will include a mentor, a welcome packet, usually pacing guides, sample assignments, etc in order to provide examples and a rough starting point. Best way I can think of to describe the curriculum is that it's kinda like a frog with a stamp taped to its butt. Just jumps around trying to make sure its own butt is good to go. The pacing guides are set up so that all of the grade level classes at a school are roughly on the same material as each other for logistic reasons. Administrators have the challenge of having their grade levels roughly in line with the rest of the state.
    2) IEPs can be written as early as K just depends on the district and needs of the student. Once you get your class listing — usually the week or two ahead of "in-service" — have a look through the files. As others have mentioned, you may not see the IEP immediately but rather just the indication that it exists. If you don't immediately see it, you may need to get with the SPED team to get a copy. You may not have access to it outright.
    3) It depends. Sometimes there's left overs from teachers who have left which are usually up for grabs, sometimes there's things provided by the school. Wait until you get to your classroom and see what you have then start from there.
    4) Look at their scores and see how they did last year. If they struggled to consistently meet standard, start them at or below. If they consistently met goal but maybe didn't exceed, start them at or maybe slightly above. If they consistently exceeded goal, start above. Then measure their progress and go from there.
     
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  6. RainStorm

    RainStorm Aficionado

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    Jul 6, 2019

    I forgot to add something. In addition to learning who is on an IEP, make sure and ask who repeated Kinder or PreK, or even 1st. These students often don't have an IEP (yet) and may never have an IEP, but usually need extra support from the classroom teacher in order to succeed.

    They may have learning differences that are not diagnosed yet, behavior issues that can make them challenging to deal with, be immature for their age, have inconsistent parenting, or be limited English language users. Generally, no one provides you with a list of who they are, but ask around. You will also see this information in their student file -- you will notice they were in PK or K for more than one year, or that they were enrolled in 1st grade LAST year -- so it is fairly obvious.

    They may have caught-up because of being retained -- if so, that is wonderful! But it doesn't always happen that way. More times than not, it doesn't. If they are still struggling after being retained, you want to have them on your radar for any of the following: special education testing and services, social/maturity programs through the guidance department, access to ESL programs, academic remediation through RTI or other programs, etc. You want to be very proactive for these students.

    You should also be aware that most elementary schools do not allow a child to be retained more than once in elementary school -- so if they are still having learning or behavioral problems, you will really need to help them this year in your class, and get them as many services as possible, as early in the year as possible. At this age, there is so much that can be done to help. Later on in upper grades, it is much harder to get the help they need.
     
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  7. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Fanatic

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    Jul 6, 2019

    Congratulations on your 1st grade teaching job! I think you are asking lots of good questions and I see lots of good advice as well. The one thing is just because it is summer doesn't mean there is no one who is willing to help you. With so much to do, this is how you might prioritize.

    1. First get your hands on that curriculum. Some schools and districts have it online. I would encourage you to reach out and call or even visit your school or school district (if within reasonable driving distance) to get this information. For me, first hired got curriculum from district in a huge binder. Next job got curriculum from school in binder form. Next teaching job got curriculum online. Current teaching job, a teacher at school (like a mentor) e-mailed me the curriculum.

    2. Go for the gold medal by seeing if you can get in contact with a teacher at your school who teaches the same grade level. If you get this, nothing will help you more. Each teacher is different. Some love to get together over the summer when life is more relaxed and some absolutely refuse. I have had both situations. When we met together, I learned everything I needed to know and more. When I got a job and it was a dead end with the teachers, I used the curriculum and materials available.

    3. See if you can get a copy of each of the teaching manuals for each subject. This was always easy for me. One year the secretary took me to my classroom and helped me get them. This can also help you to see what is available and what is not before you spend a bunch of your own money.

    4. First grade should include a mixture of curriculum and classroom routines. Decide how you are going to teach these routines to them each day that first week and beyond. I would use more demonstrations than words. First graders are better with visuals than remembering a lot of teacher talk. Some good resources are "The First Days of School" by Harry Wong and "Tools for Teaching" by Fred Jones. Even better is seeing videos online where teachers demonstrate how to teach routines. See if YouTube or The Teaching Channel can help.

    5. Picture books in children's literature can teach so much. Your public library can be your best friend on this. Children love stories and remember stories. The best first grade teachers I know use literature to teach, inspire, and educate their students. Some books might already be in your classroom library as well.

    I wish you the best year!
     
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  8. Aces

    Aces Habitué

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    Jul 6, 2019

    The part about there being people willing to help you is SO true. I'm on vacation and answering emails for our new teachers because I want to make sure they're straight. Op don't be afraid to email your admin team/mentors/etc on summer. Many admins like me are still answering questions.
     
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  9. NewTeacher12345

    NewTeacher12345 New Member

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    Jul 7, 2019

    Thank you all SOOO much for your replies. So kind of you all to help me! Very useful responses as well :)
     
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  10. NewTeacher12345

    NewTeacher12345 New Member

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    Jul 7, 2019

    Thank you SOO much for taking the time to help me!!
     
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  11. Mrs. Anxious

    Mrs. Anxious Rookie

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    Jul 8, 2019

    I am so excited for you! I just got offered a third grade job, so I have a ton of questions too! Your post covered some of mine though, so thank you for posting. :)
     
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  12. ChildWhisperer

    ChildWhisperer Devotee

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    Jul 9, 2019

    IEP's can be written as early as preschool so you may have some. Most of them might be for speech, due to the young age.
    You might also have students without any IEPs or other paperwork who do need extra support and help, so be prepared for that too.
     

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