Why Won’t You Go to Just for New Teachers This Year?


So you just got a flyer for the MTA’s Just For New Teachers Conference on November 19 hosted by the New Member Committee. Now what? Why won’t you go?!

Are you concerned about the content of the workshops offered?

Don’t be! There is a plethora of workshops to choose from for all new educators. You can choose to attend a workshop on anything from technology to classroom management to dealing with students with trauma. The workshops also range in content area and level. In addition, we are putting on an entertaining panel discussion full of teachers who will be talking about their experiences in education.


Are you concern about the cost?

It’s actually only $65 and that covers breakfast snacks, lunch, and all the workshops! That’s a bargain when it comes to full day conferences! Still concerned? Remember that $65 is like a mediocre dinner for two or a pair of sneakers you’ll never wear or something else not worth the $65 you spent on it. So put your money to better use by coming to this conference. Still concerned? Since this conference covers part of your district’s responsibility to provide new teachers with 50 hours of mentoring beyond the induction year, you could even ask around at your local and they might reimburse you for the cost. Give it a try! No promises, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Even better, JFNT is free if you are a member of SEAM!


Are you concern that it’s on a Saturday?

We used to hold this conference on a Friday, but many new teachers don’t like missing a day of school. So now you don’t have to worry about leaving sub plans! Also, you can bring a bunch of your new educator friends from all over the state since you know they’ll be available. Everyone in their first 5 years of teaching will be able take something away from this conference.


It’s easy to get to since JFNT is at Worcester Technical High School this year. Worcester is a nice central location. Well it’s definitely easier to get to than having to drive to Western MA from the Boston area (or the other way around which I am VERY familiar with…).


As an added bonus, we are putting on a book swap! Bring your books related to professional practice and you can pick up a new book.


Going to the Just For New Teachers conference is a great way to connect with other new educators just like you around the state. I always appreciated the reassurance that I am not alone in the overwhelming tornado that is being a new teacher.


Here is the link to register right now: http://www.cvent.com/events/2016-mta-just-for-new-teachers-conference/event-summary-e0eca911a83c416aa70fede2e33ccfcc.aspx


So, why won’t you go to JFNT? What’s your excuse now?


Post written by NMC member Kathryn Procter

You can follow Kathryn on Twitter: @señoraprocter

Follow MTA New Members on Twitter: @MTANewMembers and find us on Facebook!


Michael’s Space: A High School Teacher Reflects on Setting Up His Classroom

“This is going to be your classroom next year.”

My mind went in overdrive when I first heard this. My own classroom. Here. In this room. No more traveling. A place to decorate. A space to create.

How should I make it? How can it be set up?

The room itself is on the smaller side. With the 26 desks in rows (as I had seen it), there was just enough room to walk. But that is not how I planned to set it up anyway. It felt way too cluttered. Plus rows are not really my style.

But what is my style? Small groups? Horse shoe? Facing each other? How could I best use the space? How could I make it mine? Ahh!

Feeling a bit lost as I was thinking about it, I decided that the only logical way to set it up was by a replica and test out seating patterns. It just seemed to make more sense. Besides, how often do you get to make a diorama. With my decision made, I went to the school with a measuring tape not only to get the room measurements, but to measure the seats and door too!

After creating my model, I decided that I did not want just one room set up. But really needed a few. With the, I created 3 different major formations.

Formation 1

Formation 1

Formation 1 is my main formation. While all are facing forward (towards the door), this easily allows students to work independently or in a small group (across). This allows for plenty of space to move about the class.

Formation 2

Formation 2

Formation 2 is set up for cooperative grouping. When making groups, I do try to ensure that they are with students from around the room – to vary the people they work with than simply those who sit near them.

Formation 3

Formation 3

Formation 3 is for testing. You can see the issue with spacing. This is how the room was initially set up.

There are also a handful of miscellaneous formations for debates and trials, but they get lumped into variations of Formation 4.

By the end of the second week, students become familiar with the different formations and can rearrange the room in about 2 minutes – which gives me flexibility to use a variety of them in the same period.

Formation 1 TVFormation 1 Yellow Wall

Above is a look at my classroom today! Literally this morning! This is Formation 1. Ideally you can see that there is space to move about.

With this, I’ll point out two things.

  1. In the front of the classroom is a rather large television. Instead of a projector, last year I was given a TV for the front of my classroom. As we are a 1:1 iPad school, I connect to it through an Apple TV. This makes it easy to project via my or my students iPads – or by using my MacBook Pro. This has been a rather neat set up and my students have been happy at the resolution. We’ve been able to examine artwork like we never could using the screen.
  2. Last week, I painted an accent wall! This has made my room pop with colors. It also provides a neat background for the posters that I made this past year – here is a link to more of my silly digital creations. [There is also space for a contest that I will be running for students to design their own digitally altered images, but that’s for another day.]

So that is my space! It’s always developing as I do.


Post written by New Member Committee Member Michael Milton

You can follow Michael on Twitter: @42ThinkDeep

Follow MTA New Members on Twitter: @MTANewMembers and find us on Facebook!

Tips for Setting Up Your Elementary Classroom

Ah, the last week of August. While to many this means one last vacation before summer ends, trips to the beach, and evenings at the local ice cream place, it usually means only one thing for teachers: time to go set up the classroom!

As a second grade teacher, it can be a bit of a daunting task: go to my classroom that has been packed into it’s drab, “summer” mode, and transform it back to a colorful, warm, and welcoming place. Since this September 1st also signals the arrival of 21 seven and eight-year-olds, it also means organization and structure are key. My students thrive on routine, so it’s important to establish my expectations early to avoid chaos. (Well, as little chaos as is possible with a room full of second graders!)

Here are some steps I take to ensure my students (as well as myself!) stay organized.

  1. Have a “Mission Control”, or central location your students can easily access.  

When my students first arrive in the morning, they are expected to do several things on their own. This includes handing in homework, making a lunch choice (which at the elementary level, can be a BIG DEAL), reading the Morning Message, taking a chair to his/her desk, and beginning Morning Work. While this sounds like a lot, it is definitely possible! This year, I dedicated an entire bulletin board for homework and lunch to avoid any confusion. That way, it is simple for my students to put their homework in the correct bin, use the lunch menu to figure out what they will eat, and put the “bug” in the correct box. Our daily schedule is also located on this board, making it easy for my students to reference throughout the day.

photo 1

  1.  Keep those “bees” busy – embrace classroom jobs.

So yes, I am one of those teachers that does a classroom theme, and my theme is bugs. As a result, my students can check their “bee” to see what job they have! Teachers can vary on how they like to establish classroom jobs – you will have to pick the way that works best for you! I prefer to give all my students a classroom job, and I purposely pick ones that can help make my own day easier. This year I am also trying something new by having my students “apply” for the job they want, which is why my bees are not on the board yet. (If you are interested in doing this yourself, you can access my classroom job application here).

photo 2

By assigning some of the smaller classroom tasks to my students, I can focus on what’s most important – TEACHING! Some of the jobs I have are: “Paper Passers” (to hand out assignments), “Postmasters” (who put corrected papers and notices into the students’ mailboxes), “Librarians”, “Floor Inspectors” and “Chair Stackers”, just to name a few! The favorite of most of my students is “Operator”. That student gets to answer the classroom phone when it rings if I am too busy to answer it myself!

  1. Label…EVERYTHING!

As teachers, we know buying classroom supplies usually comes out of our own pockets, and it can get expensive quickly. However, the one purchase I allow myself to make each year is to buy mailing labels. I print an entire sheet for one student, and use them throughout the year to label whatever needs to be labeled! This includes student mailboxes, subject folders, notebooks, pencil cases, our handwriting book, and a lot more items I am probably forgetting! Nothing wastes class time more than having the teacher hold up an item and say, “Whose is this?!?!”

photo 3

  1. Take time to establish routine and expectations…as much as you need!

Now that the classroom itself is organized and ready, it’s time to start thinking about getting my students ready as well! I take at least the first 3-4 days of school just to establish classroom routines and expectations. I need to teach my students how to make a lunch choice using that board, how to hand in homework in the correct bins, how to carry a chair safely, how to fill out a homework log, how to do each classroom job. This takes a LOT of time, and repetition is crucial. If there is ever a point my students forget or fail to follow a certain routine, we will spend some time practicing again! Once the students pick up the basics, it becomes easy for us as a class community to transition into academic learning.

Those hot and humid days I spent sweating in the classroom will no doubt pay off once the school year begins. Each new year begins with excitement, and I’m looking forward to seeing the smiling faces of my students soon! Now that I’m all organized and ready to go…who wants ice cream?!?


Post written by New Member Committee member Jessica Rosenthal

You can follow Jessica on Twitter: @JessMorningstar

Follow MTA New Members on Twitter: @MTANewMembers and find us on Facebook!