Missouri’s own Mark Twain said it best, ” The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” For beginning teachers, it may seem a challenge to begin preparing for the school year when you are unsure what to expect. You may not have been to your school yet for any length of time or had the opportunity to meet your grade level or subject area team. If you are wondering how you can start preparing now, here are some suggestions: The first suggestion is to start now. New teacher orientation or beginning of the year faculty meetings in early August may leave you feeling like trying to drink from a fire hydrant-a lot coming at you all at once. By starting now, you can get a head start to feeling confident on day 1 of your job and help reduce the sense of feeling overwhelmed.
1. Make sure the principal has your current email address and phone number to contact you. Find out the main form of communication your building administrator and district use to share information.
2. Visit your district and school’s website. Learn names, look at teacher webpages and review calendars to anticipate dates for programs, events, conferences and other important happenings for your district in the upcoming year.
3. Review the school handbook-become familiar with policies and procedures. This may include information about a character education program being used, grading systems, reading/math programs, extracurricular activities and plans for parent communication.
4. Ask where to locate a copy of curriculum, common assessments, any texts or series used for instruction, standardized tests given or trainings you might need to attend. Spend time learning what you can about these and looking for examples of how others have effectively implemented them.
5. Find out when you can start setting up your classroom. It is highly recommended setting up your room be done before you begin your teacher meetings. It’s worth repeating-have it done before you officially begin if possible. It doesn’t mean you can’t make adjustments later, but the majority should be complete.
6. Create a preliminary classroom management plan. See the examples found on this website.
7. Contact the business office for the district to inquire about any paperwork you can complete before your first contract day.
8. Email your team members to introduce yourself.
9. Become familiar with the technology plan and technology available for you to use.
10. If you are not living in the same town for which you are working, take a drive around town. Find out where students for whom you will be teaching like to visit or ways to get to know more about the community. The Chamber of Commerce is always an excellent resource.
Your time invested now when you can choose your best working time will be worth the effort. Your administrators and coworkers will recognize a motivated and eager professional ready to be at his/her best for the students. This is a great way to start the year and your career!
Mentors-contact your mentee as early as possible. Your time invested with them and the items above will help you both get off to a great start!