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Launching Your Teaching Career Part 2 - The Perfect Classroom -by Gini Cunningham
Summary : After spending hours memorizing and internalizing the standards for your subject area(s) and grade level(s), you may have decided that driving a sewer pump truck may not have been such a lousy job.
After spending hours memorizing and internalizing the standards for your subject area(s) and grade level(s), you may have decided that driving a sewer pump truck may not have been such a lousy job. After all, sewer pumping is tough and dirty, but when the day is done, the day is done. Teaching days never end. Oh, there will be breathers and pauses but overall as one lesson plan ends, another begins so that learning is organized and sequential. Knowing your standards and teaching expectations from the begin and creating an overview of where everything will be taught and assessed during the year gives you a head start on doing an excellent job.
Now for your room. How is it looking? How many desks, tables, chairs, cabinets, bulletin boards, etc. do you have and what configuration is going to work best for you and your students? During those worry-free undergrad days you probably had to draw your "dream" classroom complete with all of the latest and best accoutrements. Reality is now setting in as you scan broken chairs, wobbly desks, torn textbooks, and hole-filled bulletin boards. This is a chance to tap you fix and repair skills to bring your room into topnotch condition. Hopefully you have set aside some personal cash for school supplies. While you should be able to requisition paper, pencils, pens, and printer ink, there is the possibility that little of this is available.
How are the walls? Schools tend to adore sick green or sicker yellow as a color scheme. If this is what you find, check with administration (always) to see if you can add a touch of paint. Bright walls light your room; if you are also an artist bright walls with delightful configurations will be a pleasant addition. If painting is out, select posters that add pizzazz to your room. Be certain that they add to concepts and learning not just act as decoration as every space in your room needs to reflect "teachability".
The bulletin boards are the same. Junk is junk; learning concepts add to the educational atmosphere as well as offer students places to check their understanding, review concepts, double check spelling, and so forth. Some place on the walls should be reserved for a word wall. This is a section where you post critical terminology for easy reference. This may be common errors (there, their, they're), math terms (theorem or quadratic), or science vocabulary (photosynthesis and phylum). The idea is that essential vocabulary is readily available so that students can see it, say it, read it, write it, and review. Before you hand thins from the ceiling or dangle too many items off your wall, check with the fore code. Overcrowded, papered walls and ceilings can be a hazard.
Next search the room for storage areas. You will need a place for books, notebooks, paper, reference material, etc. plus areas for students to retrieve things like colored pencils and paper, glue sticks and glitter, lab materials and markers. Purchase storage bins for each item and then label them. This makes it easy for handing out and gathering plus takes the mystery out of box contents. You will also need stack-ups or boxes (also labeled) for homework, hand-outs, make-up work, messages from home, and extra activities. By planning ahead you will never be digging for assignments or have student homework tucked behind the filing cabinet.
What about pencils and pens? How will you handle the seemingly ceaseless process of sharpening pencils during class? This is one distraction that drives me crazy. I recommend the "Give a pencil, get a pencil" technique. Place two cans in a convenient location. One can is full of sharpened pencils. When a student takes one, he places this dull pencil in the other can. The dull pencils can later be sharpened in one swoop by you or by a student who needs a job. The same can work with pens except that the dull ones simply hit the trash. Students may purchase the new pen or perhaps the school has enough that students can simply take one.
If a student has favorite pencils and pens with which she cannot part, recommend that she sharpen several each day before class so an exchange is easy and she won't fret over "losing" a treasure. The same holds true with providing paper. Since you will have to choose your discipline battles, you may find to offer paper rather than enter combat over materials works best. If Susie never has supplies and Johnny always forgets his book, a call home should help remedy the problem.
The room looks great - organized, full of teaching concepts, teaching materials available, and lessons ready for the first few days, the beginning of the year will flow smoothly with less stress.
Educational consultant; free lance writer; life coach; professional development presenter
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