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ThePoet's Message:

Thank you also for the tips about grading. I also found it to be incredibly daunting to constantly grad, give formative feedback, and assess every single thing I had the students do for me. These are good tips!

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Discussion Review (newest messages first)
ThePoet 07-10-2017 02:11 AM

You have given me great advice here! Thank you so much! Wow, I did not know that there could be that many evaluations. Thank you for the heads-up. I found the rubrics they will use to evaluate me on the district website, so I will use those for my planning, etc. Yes, I dislike peer-editing, as well. Unfortunately, administration usually likes that sort of thing. I wish someone would tell the colleges of education that peer-review isn't what it is cracked up to be.

Thank you so much again for the tips!!! I really appreciate it!

Mshope 06-29-2017 06:30 AM

I've heard that some districts give their English teachers time off to have grading days. Even our high school teachers have it better than middle school in my district because they might only have 60 students while we have upwards of 120. When I was able to structure my own classes, I could build in independent reading after an essay to give myself time to grade. What was also nice about that is that if there was a major problem with an essay or paper, I could pull the student back to fix it...Now, I'm directly teaching every single day. Ugh!

I do agree that it is smart to try to limit work home.

dubby 06-26-2017 03:22 PM

"Minimize work brought home" would be a better phrase.

Truthfully, for myself, I've pretty much have stopped bringing any work home. Even though I teach 8th grade science we do write a lot of essays and scientific journal entries. I cut a lot of the re-reading with digital critiques and feedback while students are typing in class and when they do a podcast recording reading of their paper. When possible, students do a lot of the work for me. I've also started to do more collaborative papers since that reflects a more realistic approach to how research publish things.

This is on top of the engineering projects are all done in class and I just tally the points as they build the item.

Mshope 06-26-2017 11:24 AM

Welcome! I usually teach mostly 7th and 8th LA and 7th grade ss, as well as some remedial reading on and off. This is my 12 year. I love middle school. However, it can be a roller coaster. I still can find things overwhelming myself. In English, we can NEVER do all we need to do. It seems like each year, our kids are harder to motivate and struggle to write a coherent sentence more.

I've probably read every classroom management out there. I've always found something useful in each of them. The first year is rough, but I do remember having a really strong bond with my "first" year students. I hope you find a helpful teacher in English who can act as an informal mentor. I remember one teacher helped me a great deal with teaching grammar and especially writing essays. Even better, if they share their handouts and materials. Another teacher helped me to get the kids to listen to me.

Back to Dubby's advice, I love it. But #7 will not work for me or any other English teacher in my building. Even after all of these years I still bring home work. At my school, we get 50 minutes planning a day. Yep, they fill it with meetings and trainings, plus, we have to cover for absent teachers due to a sub shortage. I am forced to use a scripted curriculum where I am teaching the entire class period. I have no time to grade or plan. (I used to be able to grade as kids were reading. Now it's all done together.) I am lucky if I don't have to come in early AND stay late to get my copies done. Oh, we aren't allowed to use textbooks SO everything has to be copied.

We assign maybe 3 or 4 major essays a year (yep, we all have to do the same thing.) I know that I will be bringing home 120 essays. They will take me about four hours to grade on a weekend. This is using a rubric! I try to conference with every student and will edit their rough rough, so at this point I already read their essays. I try to limit my comments. I could do a little here, do a little here, but I prefer to do them all at once. Also, I make sure I check that I have everyone's or I get no names, kids who did them but didn't turn them in (la la land), and the kids who didn't do them. I will tell the kids who didn't do them to email them to me over the weekend. I then have to get all of those grades into our computer grade system.

We do a little peer editing, but this is pretty much the blind leading the blind as the bar for writing in my district is pretty low. Oh, did I mention we have no computers, so I am reading handwritten essays unless they typed it at home?

Anyway, I did work myself practically to death especially my first few years. In English, or any "tested" subject in my district, we were observed a lot until we were tenured. So my first year I had about ten observations, eight formal!!! Now these were when they would could pop in unannounced, three were planned. I knocked every observation out of the park. I have my objectives on the board, a warm-up, and all the other requirements of that time. Now, there are a new set of "look fors." Find out what they are looking for by asking around to teachers who have been recently observed. Although I have always been known as a "great" teachers, I really have devoted my life to it. I love to work on school things. I actually do work on school work during the summer, when I want to. It is my passion, but for those who have families and young children, I don't know how they do it. I have come in about an hour early in the morning for over a decade. That is my time to set up and get my agenda straight for the day. I do occasionally stay late, but often I get disturbed and don't get that much done.

I pretty much tried to stay out of the principal's way. If I was having trouble with a student or issue, I'd go to my co-workers first. As a new person, I also chaperoned dances and attended events and staff parties. I only vented to other new teachers. I think you are off to a great start!

ThePoet 06-26-2017 08:17 AM

Thank you also for the tips about grading. I also found it to be incredibly daunting to constantly grad, give formative feedback, and assess every single thing I had the students do for me. These are good tips!

ThePoet 06-26-2017 08:15 AM

Yes, you're so right! I am limited in experience, but I have enough to know that classroom management is your number one priority. You can't even even excel with the content if you can't control your classroom. Thanks for the tips!

Munchkins 06-24-2017 02:58 AM

So glad you've joined us! This is the best online community anywhere! I teach 1st, but I suppose kids are kids! I use routines and procedures instead of rules. The main thing is, I think, is to be clear in what you expect, and to be consistent. If you don't have a mentor find a seasoned teacher at your level that can help you navigate your first year. It's very exciting, but very overwhelming when everything is new. You will learn SO much this year! Ask any questions you have here, there's always someone who can help!

lisa53 06-24-2017 02:44 AM

Congratulations! Hold on to your hat--the first year of teaching is always a wild ride!

Dubby has some good advice for you, but I will take some exception to number 7. I think that bringing some work home from time to time is unavoidable, unless you are willing to spend long hours at school.

However...there are ways to minimize the amount of time you spend grading stuff. It is possible to teach without going over every scrap of paper a student produces with a fine tooth comb.

Decide the purpose of the assignment, and only grade that aspect of it. Have students fix errors--for example, circle incorrect spellings and have the kids correct the spelling themselves instead of writing the correction for them. Some work (such as vocabulary practice) can be merely checked off at the beginning of class--no need to handle that paper.

When students are writing longer pieces, take time in class for editing conferences. Be sure they learn how to do effective peer editing. This will really pay off, because when they hand in the final paper it will be cogent and (relatively) free of errors.

Paperwork is one of the biggest bugaboos of teaching, and especially language arts!

Best wishes...and keep in touch with us!

dubby 06-22-2017 09:35 PM

Classroom management is a tricky thing to learn and I feel that it can only be learned through experience. With that being said there are a few things to establish right away:

1) You're the adult. You're in control even if they aren't.
2) Keep exectations short and very clear.
3) Keep your promises. If you promise to give a consequence do it. Doesn't matter if they are the good kids or the irritating ones.
4) You can be friendly to them, but you are NOT their friends.
5) Allow yourself to make mistakes (important!)
6) Always ask for help; no need to impress anyone at this point.
7) Don't ever bring work home.
8) Communicate with parents.
9) Learn to be flexible at times

ThePoet 06-20-2017 06:30 AM

I just wanted to introduce myself to PT. I just signed up today, and I have been reading through many of the threads these past few days, and I can tell that this is going to be an extremely valuable resource for me! I was just offered a teaching position at a middle school, teaching language arts for 6th grade and 8th grade. I go to sign the contract this Thursday-yay! I am so excited that I landed a teaching job, as it is no easy feat here, and I had to sub all last year with two long-term sub jobs to try to network. I interviewed and was turned down for six jobs, and I was beginning to get discouraged, but I hit the jackpot and got offered this position, and I've been told it's a great school! I have a Master's in English and a tiny bit of experience teaching freshman English while I was in grad school. I had middle school students for my student teaching during my Bachelor's, and one of my long term subs was with the exact grades I will be teaching. I found that experience to be VERY overwhelming, and I was quite overstimulated most of the time. I really do not want to blow it because I have been told that if you're not renewed or get great references your first year, no other school will hire you. I want to do well and stay put!

Any advice? I've ordered 5 classroom management books (the classics everyone has recommended)

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