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

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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?

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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!

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.

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  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).

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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?!?!”

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  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?!?

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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!

So Many Snow Days: An Elementary School Teacher’s Perspective on Routines and Patience

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Since when do teachers get tired of snow days? I can’t believe I’m saying this, but now that I’ve had my fifth snow day in two weeks, I am officially sick of them! (Knowing that this puts our last day of school as June 25th isn’t helping matters either!) While my students may enjoy these days immensely, these frequent days off definitely cause some major disruptions to our learning. When we do finally get back to school, it’s important to stay on schedule. Despite the size of the snow piles outside, there is still curriculum to teach and deadlines to meet. So how do I keep my second graders focused and engaged? Two ways: routine and patience.

Routine is important for children at all ages, but especially so at the elementary level. My students thrive on it. I spend so much time the first few weeks of school establishing routines. It seems silly, going over in detail things such as how to make a lunch choice, how to line up at the door quietly, how to do classroom jobs, and how to carry chairs safely in the classroom. Once we master the basics, we start practicing more difficult tasks: how to fill out a homework log, how to hand in homework, how to do independent work, how to work with a partner, and how to work with a small group. Everything is modeled, practiced, modeled again, and practiced again. If there is ever a point in the year that I feel my students are no longer successful at these tasks, we take a step back and start the modeling and practicing all over again. And you know what? It works! This is the point in the year that I begin to notice how much our established routines are helping to facilitate learning. Transition times are down, and my students understand my expectations. There might not be school Monday, but when my students arrive on Tuesday, they will know that we will begin our day with morning work, have morning meeting, and then continue our biography unit.

While routine is key, there are times when unfortunately, our schedule needs to change. Take last week for example. We had two snow days in a row, giving us only a three day week. I teach spelling to my class on a weekly basis. Usually, the pattern is introduced on Monday, practiced throughout the week, and tested on Friday. Three days did not seem like a sufficient amount of time to allow my students to learn their words, so I decided not to have spelling last week. In the eyes of seven and eight year olds, this decision is of monumental proportions…probably just as exciting as winning the lottery, if not better. This is when patience comes into play. I made it clear to my students why were are not studying spelling that week, gave frequent reminders (sometimes several times a day), and reminded myself to take a few deep breaths when my students still asked on Friday, “Hey, why aren’t we taking a spelling test?” I’ve changed their routine, and it’s hard for them to adjust. Patience, patience.

So now I sit, watching the snow continue to come down, and wonder what routines I will need to alter this week, and wonder how much patience we will all need to have to adjust accordingly. For now, I will have to maintain my own snow day routine: shovel, rest, repeat!

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Post written by MTA New Member Committee Member Jessica Rosenthal.

Jessica teaches second grade in Stoughton, MA. You can read more about Jessica’s experiences as a second grade teacher by visiting her blog “Saving the World One Second Grader at a Time”

Follow Jessica on Twitter: @JessMorningstar

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