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Countdown to Your First Year: You Got a Job. Now What?

June 11, 2014 / by Lily Jones

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This summer, Teaching Channel will be helping beginning teachers countdown to their first year of teaching. We'll walk you through the steps you'll need to take before the first day of school.

Woohoo! You've secured your first teaching job. I remember how excited I felt when I landed my first teaching job as a first grade teacher. After signing my contract, I walked into my future classroom. I felt amazed, then absolutely frightened when I realized that empty room wouldn't always be so peaceful. There would be real live kids in there, kids that I would be in charge of. Even more, I would be responsible for those kids' learning. Eek.

That summer, I lived in a place between "I got a job" excitement and first day of school jitters. But because I was able to see my classroom before going into summer planning (aka freaking out) mode, I was able to start preparing for the year ahead.

As you get ready for your first year of teaching, see if you can go into your classroom and look around. Try not to get overwhelmed; just look objectively at what’s there and what you'll need.

When you're in your classroom, think about the following:

1. Get the Lay of the Land

What materials are there? In my first classroom, there were literally tables, chairs, and textbooks. That was it. I had to buy and solicit donations for markers, crayons, picture books, etc. When I changed schools two years later, my room came equipped with a complete classroom library, shelves of art materials, and some lovely furniture. The message here: Classroom materials can vary greatly. Knowing what you can expect in your classroom will give you a chance to plan ahead. As you're planning, remember that your room is a work in progress and that you don't have to have every single thing ready on the first day of school.

2. Grab Textbooks, Books and Curriculum

Curricular materials just got added to your summer reading list! When you visit your classroom, take copies of each textbook home with you. Reading (or even thumbing through) the textbooks will give you a good sense of what you’ll be teaching next year. During my first year, I didn't use my school's language arts textbook much with my students. But I did use it to give me a sense of what my students should be learning. Looking at the textbook helped me to develop my own language arts scope and sequence.

3. Meet Colleagues

The summer can be a great time to get to know your future colleagues. Ask if you can meet your teaching partners for a quick coffee date. If that's not possible, try to connect over e-mail or schedule a short phone call. Talking with colleagues can give you a good sense of what to expect next year and what you'll need to do to prepare.

Even if you're not able to go into your classroom, you can still ask about materials, curricula and make steps to reach out to your colleagues. Take the summer prep in baby steps: first think about what you have before diving into what you need. Next week we'll move onto the next step: getting the classroom materials that you need.

Topics: New Teachers, New Teacher Survival Guide, Coaching, Back to School

Lily Jones

Written by Lily Jones

Lily Jones taught K/1 for seven years in Northern California. She has experience as a curriculum developer, instructional coach, teacher trainer, and is also a contributing writer for Teaching Channel.

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