New Teacher Advocate KDP New Teacher Advocate Summer 2016 : Page 3 buying and collecting materials now. You don’t have to purchase everything new. Go to garage sales and purchase board games, mats, toys, costumes, lamps, and other gently used items. Kayla went to book sales at the local library and filled a paper bag with books for $3, then lev-eled each book for her classroom library using Go to Craigslist and thrift stores to look for old cabinets and shelves. A little bit of sanding and spray paint can make them look fresh. • Do what you can when you can. During your first few weeks, you will be inundated with faculty and department meetings, parent con-ferences, emails, and paperwork. Have the small things finished before the first day. Decorate and plan well before the students arrive. Design your classroom jobs and set up your seating arrangement, grading policies and gradebook, classroom schedule, rules, bulletin boards, letters to parents and students, and charts for academic progress. Many teachers stressed the importance of setting up rituals and routines in the first few weeks to establish the tone for the rest of the year. Have a solid classroom management plan and stick to it because you may very well have students with behavioral challenges. You will take a lot of work home, especially in the begin-ning. Learn your limitations and pull back when needed. • Adjust and adapt. Your expectations may not match the realities that you face the first year. Education is always changing, so keep an open mind. Adapt to your new teaching environment and seek support. Ask to observe the strongest teachers in instruction and classroom manage-ment. First-year teacher Kimberly said: Don’t be afraid to always want to learn and understand more about every teach-ing aspect, not just about the position you are in. Find a good support system at school. Teachers are willing to help and share what they have and what they know. Ask questions. • Be prepared for the vast amount of test-ing and data collection. One new teacher said that she could get her students much further if she didn’t have to do so much testing. She indicated, “I can’t do anything about it. I’m almost two weeks behind in instruction just from doing assessments last week.” Invite par-ent volunteers who can commit to being in your classroom on a regular basis and have them work with small groups or do some individual-ized testing, while you do large group instruc-tion or assess individual students. It will be espe-cially difficult to match testing in states with common core standards. Ask for the training that you will need and embrace the opportu-nity to learn new methods of instruction and assessment. • Breathe! Take small steps, and do what you can for today. The first year is the hardest and it has the biggest learning curve. One new teacher used to worry and cry as she planned, but then realized that she needed to break down her planning into smaller bites and think about where she needed to go next—take the bigger picture and turn it into steps. Teaching is a hands-on learning experience for which internship and practicums cannot prepare you. Another new teacher said: You have to just do it to learn it. There is no better preparation for the first year than first-hand experience. Many things are learned from professors in a classroom, but to truly gain that with-it-ness, real-life experiences are the most helpful. My personal favorite piece of advice was: “Re-member that you are human, and always do what is best for your students. For some of them, the best thing that you can do is love them.” Dr. McCarthy teaches in the Education Depart-ment at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida. Her areas of expertise are special education, instructional practices, and building creativity in classrooms. JOINKDP For details visit Teachers are stronger together. KDP New Teacher Advocate • Summer 2016 • 3

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