(Please don't berate me for taking this job. I live in Ohio and am lucky to have a contract job in my first year, particularly as an English teacher).
No one should criticize you for taking the job. Plenty of teachers get last-minute offers.
1. Arrange to meet with the principal and department chair and find out all you can about the school and the level of the students.
2. Find out if there is a pacing guide or a syllabus.
3. Find out what other teachers are doing the first week.
4. Look up the state standards.
5. Spend the first week teaching rules, doing ice breakers, and getting writing samples. Let the students do some "Replacement Poetry" where they start with a real poem and change any of the words they like. The best poem for this is "Knoxville, Tennessee" by Nikki Giovanni. Let them decorate their papers.
6. Start reading the textbook and decide what you will do the next week.
7. My model is: Review or introduce; Direct instruction; Reading; Doing; Homework; Assess...don't lecture all period.
8. Eat lunch with the other teachers. Don't hide in your room.
9. No matter what happens in the classroom, don't cry and don't yell. Bite your tongue if you have to. Don't be afraid to ask the other teachers about any problem students - they know who they are.
10. I won't say Have fun, because you will probably be too nervous. Just remember that everyone has a First Year.
from a parent be tough but fair..dont play favorites..relax..you should have colleagues that will be able to help you...at one time they too were in your position
Start the first day, in getting to know your students, and letting them get to know you. Then you can feel around for what the school is like and talk to other to develope lesson plans.
Hey, welcome to the craft. My best advice is to remember that the kids are, at the heart of things, good kids, even when they're being rude and selfish (and if the 8th graders in Ohio are anything like those here in Australia, they will be). It's never personal, it's just kids being kids. Even though they don't know it, they want structure and boundaries and solidity from their teachers. Give them that, be consistent, be fair, and you'll be on your way.
Oh, and they will really want to know that you like them - show them that too, but subtly.
As for settling in and starting off, Molly McTrouble's advice is as sound as anyone's. Wish she was around when I first started out!
All the best - go get 'em!
I love Molly's answer. All her points are great. The only thing I would add to it, is to solicit input from your students. Don't be afraid to tell them that you are new at this and you have lots of great ideas, but you want to hear their ideas too. Tell them to speak up in class, express their opinions, and let you know what they would like to do. Set basic rules, but let them know that while you have to work within the school's guidelines, you value their ideas. They may have books they want to read, or ideas for themes for papers they'd like to write. Students always learn more and try harder when they feel their ideas are valued and their interests count.
LISTEN whenever anyone speaks
find another teacher of your grade and/or subject and ask questions
Ohio state academic standards can be researched on the web.
good luck to you!
Please, take a look at the book, The First Days of School, by Harry Wong and Rosemary Wong. This book is filled with excellent advice on establishing routines to make your year and life as a teacher effective and satisfying. I have been teaching for eighteen, going on nineteen, years and found many of the ideas practical and valuable. I found this book in the local library but have seen it a larger book stores as well. Good luck.
Don't smile until Christmas, or even better, don't smile until Spring Break.
Teaching 8th grade is very hard, students are tall, but they are still children in their behavior. Be very consistent with your discipline from the beginning.
Ask for the curriculum and try to work with a veteran teacher.
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