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TravelingGal's Message:

Sounds like you have a good plan. I believe you will do just fine.

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Discussion Review (newest messages first)
Smurfyteach 05-18-2019 11:00 PM

I love mentoring teachers and hope this is of assistance.

Firstly, count your lucky stars and never complain; I am used to 30 first graders without an Aide-- but if I get one, I would share her/him across the year level, so might get help for an hour, four days per week. That's it.

Secondly, you WILL be bulldozed. In the first instance, they are desperate to find out and then trust your character. They so want to see an authentic goodness and a nurturing demeanor in you. That's what they as parents, of course, not only should expect, but are trying to see a glimpse of in you, in just a brief window of time of a day as you take their child!

Remember, YOU almost alone, will be their IDOL. Someone they will all grow to adore. Take care of their SOUL. Develop their mind and promote citizenship. TREASURE these children and bring out the best in each one.

Get used to the unpredictability of parents (and children). It goes with the territory. Some days with parents are worse than others. Parents of K and One students ARE needy. Often, even still at Interview time.

What you have already said sounds great. Some pointers:

* Dear, I would never call parents. Noone here EVER does that. A phonecall home is for naughties, to touch base or a nice reward sometimes. Anything more is setting a precedent you can never fulfill. YES to weekly group emails about what is happening in class etc and/or paper Class Newsletter home as a hard copy.
* Therefore, you CAN and must foster responsibility with the children early on to unpack their own bags, including notes and communicate messages home.
* Getting to know you activities- try to do lots whilst sitting in a circle so all feel included. Make up/prepare and play a rare game of Pass the Parcel with school supplies in the layers, or cute things like small novelties would be nice.
* Behavior Management- Yes Class Dojo or a Behavior book (which I have created for all children before to complement my behavior ladder, but it is a lot of prep with monthly calendars glued inside, a colored scale and notes... can send it home daily or weekly and it captures all kids. It's really good and parents love it.
* Yes, whole group floor sessions. Partner off with some activities to apply what is learnt.
* Mini whiteboards (one for each child) can be your best friend for lessons, quick games, morning meeting time or revision.
* Show and Tell. Do you have this organised? We call it Oral Language Time or Speaking & Listening and it's compulsory and forms part of their Homework preparation. They can bring in something every week- or month- to show and explain to the whole class. No toys normally or once every now and then. You can use a 5 minute timer (but that can be cruel when they are in the middle of something or you have 'slower' speakers, so I'd rather not pressure each child to hurry).
I make up a Show and Tell grid of about 9 things and stick it into their Homework book, with MY various ideas in each square, so I choose the topic- they choose when they want to bring it in and I stamp the square when it is done!

That's all for now. Last piece of advice. It can be hard, but ALWAYS wear your smile whenever at the classroom door. Greet them all individually in the morning and make a special effort everyday to catch each of them at the door to farewell them in the afternoon. This is how you round off the day, help them go home happy whilst building class community- so important in the Early years.

GOOD LUCK! I just love this level with all it's fabulous and crazy goings-on, visible academic progressions, topped with regular cuteness and rewards and I hope you love it also.

Smurfyteach 05-18-2019 03:30 PM

Oh yes and become a Seesaw ambassador so you can try to smooth over how great it is at a local level.... all helps to grow fake trust and this following of nameless and faceless individuals selling your details.
We are now banned at school from signing up our classes. Our district has banned Seesaw because the internal IT investigative specialists have tracked our info being led and sold to that part of the world. When you use Seesaw in its entirety it is dangerous. Parents I know from my own kids schools now must sign a SEESAW disclaimer before they sign up to Seesaw, so another private school organisation are very wary too.
Ignorance and naivety from teaching staff doesn’t cut it in our school’s organisation. So for communication, teacher notes, location, photos, contacts, likes, parent comments, that is everyone’s personal details and connections exposed and stored deliberately elsewhere. We might like to use that app because of what it ‘offers’. You can. We certainly do not need that risk.

kahluablast 05-18-2019 06:14 AM

Smurfy- what makes you think Seesaw is different from any other app or internet thing you use? Everything you do online is being stored in multiple places around the world. If you don’t want any information out there don’t use the internet.

Jobs for Seesaw workers are in San Fran.

Smurfyteach 05-18-2019 12:42 AM

We are advised to never use apps especially like SEESAW. All your personal info, photos etc are stored overseas apparently in a dangerous part of Europe. So tempting because it is user friendly, but it is FREE and and the reason is it is dangerous.

Flaggerdoot 02-06-2019 08:51 AM

There is a great program that allows for open and daily communication that is interactive with the parents and students and teacher that I think would work perfect for your situation. It is called seesaw. We use it in my district and it works wonders for communication solutions.

RoseyTeacher 01-31-2019 11:22 AM

Thank you so much! I am going to get those books from the library asap!

RoseyTeacher 01-31-2019 11:20 AM

Thank you! BHM was just Black History Month sorry, lol!

RoseyTeacher 01-31-2019 11:20 AM

Thank you! I will run it by my principal that I may just give them the ption to call rather than call them directly.

word girl 01-30-2019 03:49 PM

Best of luck to you!

You have a good handle on what to start with, so just a few pieces of advice you can take or leave :-)

Whole group instruction plus Daily Five is exactly how I structure my day. Be prepared to teach them how to "do" Daily 5 centers - they may not have much experience.

Since you already offered to do a phone call, I think you should definitely follow through on that, but in the future, a weekly newsletter or update on Class Dojo should be good.

Be prepared to be strict on behavior expectations in the beginning and slowly ease back. Expect it to be like September all over again.

I don't know what a BHM sheet is, but I would say that my students are not super independent yet with anything that has too many directions or steps.

Guest 5512 01-30-2019 11:31 AM

I have been in your exact position. I only had a couple of days to prepare, so I definitely had to prioritize between “must do” and “want to do.”

I just had to survive. There was a reason the former teacher left. If it had been an easy class, my predecessor would have just stuck it out for 4 more months. But they weren’t, and she didn’t, and it was extremely hard to step in and try to fix things.

I focused on the biggest problems: student behaviors and establishing parent trust.

I had to let students and parents know that I would make the transition as smooth as possible. That is what they most needed to hear.

I also had to reassure them that I knew what I was doing (even if I had to fake my assuredness). I communicated to the parents my qualifications (education) and experience (professional, and personal as a parent of children attending schools in our district). I did this by way of a letter and it must have been effective. I did not get a fraction of the push back that my predecessor did.

With that said, I did not make sweeping changes. I tabled many of my plans and decided it would be best to introduce them at the beginning of the next year with a new group of students. I was able to give lots of thought to these ideas (“I definitely will/will not do this next year.”) over the course of that first challenging semester.

Instead, I focused on routines and procedures more than curriculum for the first 2 weeks. I chose activities that allowed practice of those routines.

I read ‘Back to School Jitters’ about a teacher who is nervous about meeting her students. It provided an opportunity to practice where/how students sit for read alouds. Also an opportunity to share information about myself.

Relationship building activities - sit in a circle, take turns rolling dice, answer a question based on the number it lands on: 1. How many brothers and sisters do you have? 2. What is your favorite animal? Etc. Students are practicing your expectations for taking turns, listening when others are speaking, respecting each other’s responses, etc.

About Me Posters - do a little bit at a time and give explicit directions on filling out one section at a time. Students are practicing listening to you and following your directions.

Class discussion regarding behavior expectations. I read the hilarious “Do’s and Don’ts” by Todd Parr, followed by creation af a Do’s and Don’t s anchor chart. It gives students a voice in establishing ground rules and sharing with you some of the routines that are already in place.

During this time, you will gradually increase the amount of time devoted to curriculum with lots of very intentional front-loading of procedures (how to get a pencil, how to sit to show you are ready for the next step, etc.). Do not rush or scrimp in establishing procedures. It will save you time in the long run!

Finally, don’t spend tons of time or money on trying to make your classroom decorations look like all the others. You have not had the same amount of prep time as those other teachers. You are in survival mode. Minimalist is fine. Next year you can fulfill your Pinterest dreams!

I wish you the best of luck! For me it was a very positive experience as I learned to focus on what really matters and gave myself permission to forget about what didn’t.

Pass_The_Guac 01-30-2019 11:12 AM

I agree that 18 phone calls may be a bit much, It may be a good idea to give the parents an option to call you if they so desire. Rather than force them into a conversation they may not feel is necessary.
And, if what you say is true about the teacher in fact retiring well before the actual retiring date you may want to ease into the parents a little bit. if they are not used to so much communication/directness you may overwhelm them which could lead to a number of problems in the future. I would suggest taking things pretty easily until you get a good feel for the students and parents. you don't want to be overzealous then not be able to maintain that throughout the year. start with something easily maintainable by both parties!

TravelingGal 01-29-2019 07:59 PM

Sounds like you have a good plan. I believe you will do just fine.

RoseyTeacher 01-29-2019 07:18 PM

I have to do something with them as much as I don't want to. In my interview I mentioned calling parents or having a mini "open house" and my AP told me today that she likes the idea of me calling parents. Honestly, I feel like calling is the lowest pressure. They can talk my ear off, I'll say "I'll do what I can to address the issue" and hopefully we can move on.

WGReading 01-29-2019 06:55 PM

Congratulations! Your ideas are all sound....except for calling the parents. I would not open that can of worms. 18 phone calls....a minimum of 18 parents who want to talk your ear off....who will hold you accountable for everything you said or they think you said.
If these parents want info the way you have heard, you may want to plan a "Meet the Teacher" type open house event that is short (like an hour) to let families come in to meet you and see the classroom, once you have gotten things up and running. It will open you up to parent discussions, but that will also give you insight into the students and a chance to suggest helpful home behaviors like reading every night, etc.
Keltikmom 01-29-2019 02:46 PM

Congratulations! Your ideas are all sound....except for calling the parents. I would not open that can of worms. 18 phone calls....a minimum of 18 parents who want to talk your ear off....who will hold you accountable for everything you said or they think you said.

Write a lovely letter and mail it. Don’t count on kids to deliver it.

RoseyTeacher 01-29-2019 11:54 AM

The short of it: I need advice on starting with a first grade class mid-year!

I have been on leave since having my son last year and decided to return early when I saw my dream school was hiring. I got the job and it starts in a few days!

I am coming into a class of 18 first graders. Their teacher retired last week and must've been one of those who "retired" a lot earlier than her last day. That being said, I have been warned the parents are needy :/ As well they advised me to start from scratch with my behavior management and lessons. SO knowing that can anyone help me with:

*"Getting to know you" or other first day activities- I thought of bringing in special treats with a little "glad to have you" poem or something cutesy. I think I'll give them a BHM sheet to work on while I chat and meet my new kids.

*Parents- I plan on calling each parent and introducing myself Monday afternoon. I want to tell them that I'm making it a priority to get to know their son/daughter and their needs. I'm also going to be very strict with my communication and office hours (which will go home on an info sheet that day,) so they don't feel like they can bulldoze me.

*Behavior Management- I want to use Class Dojo. I'm going to explain how the positive and negative points work to the students as well as parents, and emphasize that it is updated DAILY so they don't expect a live action report on their kids behavior. IF YOU KNOW OF A BETTER METHOD THAT ALSO WORKS AS A SOLID LINE OF COMMUNICATION (WITH A "PAPER TRAIL" PLEASE LMK.)

*Lessons- Short, whole group lessons on the floor (is that a thing in first?) Followed by Daily 5 for both math and reading. I have to incorporate iReady as well.

FIRST GRADE TIPS IN GENERAL- The last time I taught it was in another state (I'm in FL now) and it was 6 years ago, and I did teach Kinder 4 years ago.


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