Experienced teachers know that success inside the classroom comes from preparation outside the classroom. New teachers may find their first classroom experience nerve-wracking, but there are lots of ways to prepare before you stand in front of that first class.
Learn About Your Students
Before teaching a class, it is so important to know about the individuals that make up that class. As soon as you are given your class list, head to the academic records and take a look! Review each student record carefully and jot down any information that might be helpful in planning for your students. Student interests can go along way in creating engaging lesson plans, and you’ll definitely want to note their attendance and homework habits. This additional research will help compensate for the lack of practical teaching experience you may have.
You can also learn a lot about your new students by speaking to those who taught them before. Arrange a time to meet with individual teachers or support personnel who have worked with your students. To prevent situations that may arise involving gossip or anecdotal stories, come up with a list of questions you would like to ask about your students. This will respect the other teacher’s schedule and obligations, as well as help you collect information in an organized manner.
Learn About The Curriculum
Before you set foot in the classroom, make sure you have the appropriate resources for the class you will be teaching: the curriculum guides for your grade and subject areas, and the teacher editions of student textbooks. For each subject you will be teaching, review the skills that each student must have before they begin in your class; it will give you a good idea of where your students are coming into your class for the first time.
At this time, you will also want to find out how to obtain textbooks and other materials for your first class. Some books are issued on a first-come first-serve basis, so it is important to ask the proper school administrator where to get them. Explore resource areas in your school and take stock of what manipulatives and learning materials are available and how to access them for your classroom. This will save you a lot of time in your lesson-planning stages.
Learn About Your School’s Policies & Procedures
It is essential to find out the policies at your new school regarding safety and health concerns, such as drug or alcohol possession, weapon possession, injuries, fights, sexual harassment, and child abuse. If a situation arises, you will need to respond, so it is best to become familiar with these materials as soon as you are able. It is also important to discuss with another professional who works at your school what the emergency procedures are for fire alarms or lock-downs.
Many schools distribute handbooks for teachers that detail all safety procedures and policies and the teacher’s role in these. Find out if your school provides this type of handbook, and if so, read and review it, and refer to it when necessary. Keep in mind that although some teachers may not adhere to particular policies, each teacher is accountable for following the written policies of his or her school and school board.
As a new teacher, if you learn as much as you can about your students, the curriculum you will be teaching, and the policies of your school and school board, you will not only be more knowledgeable, but will likely find yourself a lot less nervous and feeling a lot more prepared. Happy teaching!