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Sunday, July 15, 2012

I Just Got a Teaching Job... Now What?! Day 1

I remember last year when I got my job.

I was thrilled for about 3 seconds...

And then terrified.

Don't get me wrong; I was excited to have a job. After fifty-some applications (at least), and being RIF'ed, and waiting an extra week past when she said the decision would be made... I was so incredibly happy to have a teaching job.

But it was my first time in my own classroom, and I had no clue where to start.

Now, clearly after a year, I'm not an expert, by any means. But I am just close enough to that new teacher freak-out to remember all of the questions I needed to ask, all of the challenges I faced, all of the worries I had, and all of the decisions I had to make last year- and I want to offer a survival guide for new teachers.
New teachers, please keep in mind that I'm writing this for teachers who have a little while to prepare before their first day (but I'll try to post later about which things are most important for those of you who only have a couple of days to get ready!)

Veteran teachers, please share your tips about each topic in the comments! (Or feel free to post your tips and then post the link in the comments!)

Day 1: You're Hired!

So, the principal just called and offered you the job.

YAY! *happy dance*

Here's what to ask while you're still on the phone with your principal.
  1. Where and when will I need to go to sign my contract and complete paperwork? 
  2. Are there important dates I need to know now, like new teacher orientation/ induction, staff days, etc.?
  3. When can I see my room and/ or start working on it? Will I have access to curriculum materials then, too?
  4. Will you be assigning a mentor teacher for me? (If so, can I have their information now? If not, is there someone you could suggest?)
  5. Can I please have the contact information of my grade level teammates?
After you hang up the phone (and jump up and down for a little while), you will have a million thoughts running through your head! Right now- before you dive in head first and before you have a chance to forget them all- you need to set up a way to keep all those thoughts and ideas organized. There are a few options, of course:

  • Go ahead and start a teacher binder. No, it doesn't have to be all set up yet- but it is vital to have one place where you hole-punch and keep important papers so they don't get lost in the mess that is setting up your classroom.
  • Start a Google Doc and Google Calendar. You can access them from home OR from school, and they will update wherever you are. Bonus: It cannot get lost, and you can share important dates on the calendar with your significant other!
  • Go old school- grab a notebook and label the top of each page. For someone like me who just loves making a list, this may not be a bad way to go! A small notebook could even fit inside your purse, which would be great as you're shopping.
No matter where you decide to take notes, here are some categories you might consider:

- Questions to Ask the Custodian/ Principal/ Secretary/ Mentor Teacher/ IT person/ Grade Level Team
- Technology
- Procedures
- To Buy- Needs and Wants
- To Make
- School Policies (to collect as you learn about them, or to ask about)
- Important Dates (or put these directly on a calendar)
- Space Planning
- Curriculum

The important thing at this point is to stay organized and take a deep breath. Tomorrow, we'll talk about taking a school tour, and the questions every new teacher should ask!

Before you go... I wanted to point out that one of my favorite blogs, Mrs. Castro's Class, is having a HUGE giveaway. You could win a customized lesson plan from me along with about a million other prizes (and there will be 6 winners!). I hope you'll go check it out!

I also have to announce the winner of my mini-giveaway yesterday! Here were my random facts about me:

1.  I have taken some kind of dance lessons for 15 years.
True! I took ballet, tap, and jazz for 13, East Coast swing and Lindy hop for 2.
2.  I've eaten the food they give to monkeys at the zoo.
True! In middle school, we took a field trip to the zoo and visited the commissary (zoo kitchen).
3.  My husband was impersonating his best friend when we met.

True! We met at a Halloween party, and he was dressed as his best friend. He loves to remind us of this, like when he was the best man at our wedding.
4.  My favorite food is peanut butter pie.

True! I loooove all things peanut butter.
5.  I would love to go to Costa Rica someday and stay in the rainforest.

True! Costa Rica is the top of my very long "places I'd love to go someday" list!
6.  Someday, I want to be a principal.
FALSE! No. Way. Being a principal would mean giving up the things I love most about teaching to do more of the things I hate most. I can't imagine it would be a job I would enjoy OR be good at! Truly, if I end up outside of the classroom, I think I'd enjoy being a coach, teaching pre-service teachers in college, writing books, or designing curriculum.
7.  I am a partial owner of the Green Bay Packers football team.
True! But to be fair, there are thousands of us. The Packers are the only publicly-owned major sports franchise, which means that people buy stock and vote for those who make team decisions, instead of there being some rich guy backing the team and making profit off of it. I love that about our team- FANS truly own the team. And last Christmas, my husband and I got our own piece of Packers stock! Essentially, it is an expensive piece of paper that allows us to go to a shareholder's meeting each year, but I still love it because I am a HUGE Cheesehead :)

8.  I have kissed a stingray.
True! My family and I went on a cruise and stopped at Stingray City in Grand Cayman. So cool (and not a bit scary, if you're considering doing it.)

So... the first person who guessed got it! Tammy- let me know what topic you'd like to see for a Scoot game freebie! :)


  1. I know that terrified feeling!!!! I don't think it ever goes completely away. My binder looks the same as yours! Thanks for posting about my giveaway!
    Mrs. Castro's Class

  2. What a great idea to post the tips! I remember that terrified feeling. I didn't find out what grade I would be teaching for my first job until registration day. It was so stressful and hectic. I practically lived in my classroom to get everything together in time!

    Lovin’ Kindergarten

  3. Cool! I don't usually win things. I often can't imagine why anyone would want to be an administrator. Am I choosing the scoot topic from some that you've already made?
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

  4. I was thinking about doing a new teacher series on my blog! I'll add your posts to my page "Are you a beginning or new teacher?" THANKS FOR ALL THE TIPS! They are great!!!~!

    Sparkles , Smiles, and Student Teaching

  5. What a great post! I think so many new teachers will find this helpful - I wish I had this resource once! Great work!

    Second Grade Sparkle

  6. I love this idea for a blog series. You are really going to help new teachers out! It is so overwhelming at first. Loved reading the facts you shared. It is great getting to know fellow bloggers a little better. Go, Pack, Go! :) I am already getting excited about next season. Last year Packers football ended so quickly and unexpectedly! I feel like I never got any closure! I don't think I will get over it until another season starts!

    Delighted in Second

  7. I knew it was #6! Haha. I think all of your tips for new teachers are great! We have a new teacher on our team this year and I am definitely going to pass this blog along to her.

    Reaching for the TOP!

  8. Hi Jenny,

    Thanks so much for stopping by! I love your blog and am your newest follower! Can't wait to start sharing!

    Today, in Second Grade

  9. This is a wonderful post and very helpful! We are your newest followers!
    Teaching Little Miracles


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