8 Ridiculously Useful First Year Teacher Must Haves
- Homework bin
- Classwork bins
- Pass sign in/sign out
- Bathroom pass/hallpass
- Communal utensils
- Do now routine
- Exit ticket routine
When it comes to prepping for my first year of teaching, I was scratching my head. Now sitting on the other side of my first year, I can say these things definitely helped.
All teacher prep programs will emphasize organization. If you are unorganized, you will get swamped in the minutia of teaching: all the flyers from the office, forms from counselors, attendance cards to collect, on top of collecting homework and classwork and returning it in a timely manner.
For me, organization happened in the form of classwork bins and homework bins. Students turned in homework and classwork in their period bin, and if they were absent or tardy, they’d grab handouts from my tray of extras. This also helped if students were out for a longer period. I could just grab the handouts and put a sticky and paper clip with the student’s name and give it to them when they came back or mail it out if the parent asked for it.
In that same area, I kept my sign out list, so if kids wandered in after going to the bathroom or counselor’s office they’d know where to grab their classwork. It also goes towards the all-important due diligence in case a kid wanders off and security or an administrator needs to be notified (believe me, it happens in the most well-managed, student-centric classrooms too).
A physical calendar also helped me keep track of testing. I would put post its in case something changed (like a fire drill or shooter drill) and keep it above my desk on a bulletin board where students could see what was happening. I also kept a digital copy of the calendar on Google Classroom, where parents could monitor student progress if they wanted to (it also served as another layer of due diligence paperwork).
And lastly, communal utensils. Students will inevitably come to school without a single school supply in their backpack, whether its because of hardship, or because they think they don’t have to work if they don’t bring their things. Having a simple set up of spare pens, pencils, and line paper helped me tackle that issue discretely.
Routines! They are emphasized in teacher prep programs and your administrators will look for them when they inevitably do a walk through. Students also yearn for routine. They want to know what is going to happen, and routines can help with that.
At a minimum, I recommend having a do now routine, with a simple writing prompt on the board, the date, the standard, and agenda. You can even just have them write down the agenda for the day and then begin the opening activity.
Exit ticket activities also go a long way towards giving you feedback on how your students are working towards understanding the big ideas of your lesson. Have them write a question they still have and submit it to a box as they leave, or even on a Google form so that you have everything organized and legible!