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MathNerd10 07-17-2017 06:41 AM

New Teacher Advice
I am looking for advice from other new teachers on what you may try this year in the classroom, as well as advice from veteran teachers on what you have tried in the past.

I am starting my first year in a high school math classroom teaching Algebra II and Geometry. Advice on classroom management, laying out norms/procedures, etc. or even advice in those content areas would be fantastic!

Thanks in advance!:)

dubby 07-21-2017 11:33 AM

The first week should be heavily focused on practicing norms and procedures. Give them lots of opportunity to practice it and it is also a good time to enforce your consequences to a dot.

As for everything else like layout it is dependent on your classroom space and shape. Sometimes it is okay to start off in rows.

Also, older students tend to like projects.

pastafordays 07-30-2017 07:49 PM

Congrats! I'm a new teacher, too, and have spent the bulk of the summer scouring advice from education blogs, books, and current/former teachers.

I've heard far too many stories from teachers online and in my life burning out from hours spent looking for and creating assessments, unit plans, lesson plans, and in-class materials. While I know that the first year is full of huge learning curves in terms of curriculum, classroom management, work/life balance, and school culture, it seems like it's easy for educators to spend hours reading articles or blog post after blog post that include ideas of implementing these in-class materials in lessons. However, this approach overwhelmed me in student teaching.

What I'm doing this year is purchasing a curriculum from teacherspayteachers that other teachers and principals have recommended to me for teaching 3-5 Science (since not everything on there is worth purchasing). This already includes a set of high-quality assessments, activities, unit plans, lesson plans, and in-class materials that were created by a teacher who teaches the same grade levels and subject and uses the same state standards as I will. While my goal is to prevent getting overwhelmed with the pressure to "reinvent the wheel," especially my first year, this curriculum actually is well-organized and easily modifiable so that I can meet the needs of my students. This also helps me get to know my subject's content and best practices in a way that removes the hours of trying to organize resources from multiple locations (and put my time towards other things).

I highly recommend checking out the book See Me After Class by Roxanna Elden (for managing all of the decisions you make for yourself and your students your first-year) and The First Days of School (for laying out norms/procedures and classroom management) by Harry and Rosemary Wong.

Geometry was my worst subject in school - since I was an International Baccalaureate (IB) student, my school required us to take Geometry Honors, even though math wasn't my strongest subject. After four failed tests with the lowest score in the class, my teacher was observant enough to recognize that I needed help understanding certain concepts that I developmentally wasn't absorbing with the work she assigned to the class. She spent hours after school tutoring me, and I ended up with a hard-earned B (without any extra credit - she believed students should earn grades based on assessing mastery of, not through practicing, concepts). The best advice I can give is to not give up on these students and do everything you can to give them extra/the right kind of support for them as an individual learner. I tried so hard to just fall through the cracks and dig myself out of my own confusion with geometry because I was embarrassed of what my classmates, and my teacher, would think of me if they knew that one of the top-scoring students in English class was failing Geometry. I didn't want to be a burden for her because I knew that she taught multiple classes at a high-risk school. If I could tell teachers one thing, it's that not every student will ask (or even know how to ask) for help, even if they need it, because they are embarrassed of being perceived as dumb, incompetent, unreliable, worthless, etc. or they don't want to inconvenience the teacher. Even though it took many hours of my and my teacher's time to get me caught up, please, she didn't give up on struggling students. My teacher's dedication to giving me the highest quality of learning for my needs motivated me to work harder in her class (and even made me decide to become a teacher).

Mikhail 09-12-2017 11:49 AM

classroom materials
The suggestions I give you depend on your style and organization so you know yourself and your class better. If you're the hands-on type, it would probably be wise to store your manipulatives in zip-lock bags for individual use. And store these by units in a closet. But if you're storing those compasses, it can be a little tricky. Remember, it's about safety. In general think of how a chem teacher might store materials and equipment so safety is paramount. And if you have them work in teams, they can share each other's pieces and equipment.

For calculators like graphing calculators, make sure that you number each device and assign each kid their own graphing or regular calculator based on the number.

Since you're teaching geometry, I would advise purchasing a license to Geometer's sketchpad. Some of these students cannot draw a straight line even if there's a straightedge! Don't assume that they know how to use a micrometer or a ruler for that matter.

About practicality, I don't know how you intend to record grades but might I suggest that you record their grades on an actual gradesheet or gradebook and then enter these in a grading software or on good old spreadsheet. The only reason why I would record their grade on a gradesheet or gradebook 1st is because I'm not always by a computer when I finish grading a stack of papers but I do have my roll/plan/grade book handy. With a computer, I enter columns of grades at the end of every week to update for each class. I should've started by saying not to let a stack of papers pile up or you would be so behind in grading papers! It was a source of anxiety for me knowing in the back of my mind that I got stack of papers to look through even though I didn't have to grade them all.

I don't know how often you plan on assessing your students but whenever I assess, I would naturally update each student's grade (non-official) on a regular basis, weekly when I got my groove on. This way, it does not surprise them one bit as to how they earned or are earning their cumulative grades. I let them know their unofficial grade by writing their own percentage scores on their last assessment or on some sticky note. Consider privacy when you're updating their grades.

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