Monday, August 25, 2008

Getting a Sub

It won't be long before you will need a substitute teacher, because of sickness, personal leave or a TDE (Temporary Duty Elsewhere). The person at Chets Creek that knows EVERYTHING about subs is Julie! She will be your new best friend.

Normally you will be given a list of preferred subs. They are subs that only sub at Chets Creek or that have been recommended by one of our teachers. It is still early in the year to have that list, so if you need a sub and don't know anyone, do not hesitate to ask Julie for a recommendation. You can also ask teachers on your grade level/ subject areas for their favorite sub. Within the next month you should get a list from Julie, but it changes often, so always feel like you can ask her for a recommendation.

To put in for a sub, go to the Kelly sub web page - You should look for the KASS sign in. A teacher's ID number is her identification number with enough zeroes on the front of the number to make eight digits. A teacher's PIN number is the last four numerals of her Social Security number. Julie will be glad to walk you through the first few times you need a sub.
Whenever possible you should contact the sub before putting her into the system to make sure she is indeed available. Just because she shows up as available on Kelly does not mean she can take the job. Even in an emergency you need to contact the sub first. If it's really early in the morning or a last minute problem, call Julie or send her an e-mail. She checks her e-mail first thing in the morning and usually knows who is available. (I told you Julie would be your new best friend!)

Julie will put a leave form in your box when Kelly notifies her that someone has requested a sub. It is the teacher's job to fill it out, sign it and return it to Julie as soon as possible. Actually, if you leave the building during the day for any reason or don't come to work at all you must fill out a leave form - even if you don't need a sub. If the absence requires a sub it has to be a half or whole day. If, however, you do not need a sub, then you may take leave for just the time you are gone.

Sometimes you will not need a sub after all and need to cancel. To do this, call 245-7555. This is another job Julie will do for you if you ask.

What should you leave for a sub? To facilitate the tasks of a substitute, minimizing interruptions of the normal routines, teachers should provide a folder that assembles the following information:

A. Daily schedules (including lunch). Identify those on free and reduced lunch for substitute
B. Resource classes and times
C. Class roster/Fire Drill roster
D. Seating charts
E. Student lists for instructional groups
F. Transportation plans for students (walkers, bus riders and bus numbers)
G. Names of students who may have medical problems or who require special attention
H. Directions for locating instructional material and equipment
I. Names of classroom helpers
J. List of additional academic activities (listening games, stories, songs)
K. Other pertinent information specific to class needs
L. Name of a buddy teacher should assistance be needed

All other activities and objectives such as art, physical education and music should be noted and the activities to be covered listed. Plans should reflect required time allocations. Lesson plans are to be used daily and placed on the teacher's desk for easy access.

Advice about subs from 3rd grade teacher Jenny Nash:

During my first year of teaching, I was introduced to the concept of a "sub binder" by my mother-in-law. It has proven to be a lifesaver for me, and I've had many thanks from subs over the years. Before my first absence each year, I compile (or update) a neatly organized binder, complete with a front page letter of welcome and thanks from me (which I sincerely mean!), that explains EVERYTHING about my classroom! (class list(s), rules, behavior management plan, incentives, daily schedule, general classroom policies such as helpers/jobs/routines, etc.) I also preserve my name tags from the first weeks of school in a basket and include information on where to find those for the students, in the event the sub would like to use them. My mother-in-law originally recommended to include extra work that could be used to fill time if needed, but I've never found this necessary. (Most often, they don't get to all the plans I leave, anyhow. I guess I tend to over plan.) My lesson plans are detailed. I include examples, etc. so they are very clear to someone who may or may not have any background in education. However, thanks to the permanent sections in my binder, I only need to detail my expectations for the teaching and student activities. I also star a few names on the class list(s) indicating reliable students to ask questions if/when something comes up. I also leave REAL work and plans for the subs. I do this knowing that the lesson will most likely need to be reviewed upon my return, but I have found that students who sense a difference in their academic rigor (i.e. movie vs. lesson) are more likely to act out and push limits. (This is another positive comment I often receive from subs, "Thanks for letting me teach!") Finally, I also ask for a note from the sub letting me know what they got to/didn't get to, as well as kids' behavior, etc.

I'll be happy to let anyone stop in and check out the binder if they're interested. I keep it in the same place all the time and inform my officemates where it is, in the event of an emergency absence. Worst case scenario, I email plans and they've got all the rest in the binder! :)
If you want to see a seasoned teacher's sub plans, just ask. They will be glad to share. Just remember that it is always your responsibility to make sure that the substitute has plans for the day!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

It Happened! - the first day!

For a really inspirational message about how the first day worked out at Chets Creek, read the Principal's blog and comments. This is the way school should start for teachers - and for families!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

First Day Stories

The first five years of teaching I taught third through fifth grade students with learning disabilities in a self-contained setting. When I transferred to a new school, I was excited to learn I would be teaching first through third grade students with learning disabilities in a self-contained setting because I felt like I would be able to intervene with younger students before they got to the point that my old students had when they came to me. So...I planned for my first day with these young students and felt pretty confident. My classroom looked great. I had activities prepared and a smile on my face as I was greeted the kids with hugs and smiles. After having my ENTIRE day's plans DONE by 10:30...I was was scrambling for something to do! I had no idea they would finish an art activity in 10 minutes because fifth graders would take forever to do similar things. Their attention spans were so short! I was totally out of my element. I managed to make it another hour until lunch with readalouds, and then I marched out to my car and had a good cry. What had I gotten myself into?!? I thought I knew what to do. The rest of that day was a blur, but I went home and spent hours on the phone calling all of the primary teachers at my previous school asking what they had done that day. I went to bed with a better game plan for the next day, and well...I fell in love with teaching primary! The lessons here are: over plan, ask for help and try, try, try again.
Melanie Holtsman

My first day of teaching the principal entrusted 36 first graders to me. He didn't give me thirty-six desks or tables, but that's another story. I don't remember anything about the first day, except the dismissal. It is critical, that if you don't do anything else, you do two things on your first day. First, you need to know how each student is getting home. At 3:10, I had a group of little people around me, and one little boy was crying. I kept saying, "Peter, don't worry. You are a car rider, and your mom will be here soon. Peter, please stop crying." He cried for a very long time, and then finally said, "My name is not Peter, it is Jimmy. Are you sure my mom is coming!" Secondly, you need to know each of their names!
Christy Constande

My favorite first day story is one I often tell about Haley Alvarado. So with her permission, I'll tell it once again. Haley's first class at Chets Creek was very challenging. In kindergarten you never know what you are going to get because nobody places the students evenly among classes because they don't know any of the children before the first day! Haley just happened to get a very challenging bunch that first year and quickly learned many things, including how to manage students with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). On the first day of her second year, she came to me a lunch time with a handful of new student forms. "I can't believe every student they have added to my class today has ADD. I have four new students and each one has ADD." "How do you know they all have ADD?" I asked. She pointed to the large letters at the top of each page that had ADD circled. "Haley, that doesn't mean they have ADD. That means "add" them to your class!"
dayle timmons

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

First Day Ideas

Here are some cute activity/ice breakers for the kids to do on the first day from 2nd grade teacher Denise Evanko.

M&M's and Me!
As the students walk in my class on the first day of school, I stand by the door with a bowl of M&M's. I instruct them to take 1-4 M&M's. They have to decide the number that they wish to take. I also instruct them not to eat them until I tell them to. Finally, I explain to my students that for every M&M they picked, they have to tell the class one thing about themselves. I demonstrate the activity by being the first one to share and eat my M&M's!

Sing! Getting to know each other.
(Sung to the tune of "The More We Get Together")
Sit in a circle and then sing: Here we sit together, together, together Here we sit together, all here on the floor.
There's ________ and ________ and ________ (etc, until every child has said their name)Here we sit together, all here on the floor.

Guess who?
Have students fold over a piece of white paper and fold it hamburger-style. On the front, have them draw their self-portrait. Model using details (glasses, length of hair, buttons on clothes) Tell them NOT to write their names on the pictures because we will use the clues inside to figure it out. Inside they can write words or phrases to describe themselves. Pull a few a day and have the class guess after the clues. Then, have the creator stand up.

Time Capsule
I also had each child add a sheet to a time capsules that asks general questions like: favorite t.v. show, song, color, best friend, food, game. I kept them and have them complete it again at the end of the year to see how we changed.

The following first day activities come from an excellent blog of reading and writing lesson ideas. Check it out:

Idea #1 Name Tag Glyph (Back to School)
The students will use stencils to trace the letters in their name on a paper strip.They will use these directions to make their name.

  • 1st letter-boy-stripes/girl-checkerboard

  • 2nd letter-do you have any brothers or sisters-yes-red/no-green

  • 3rd letter-do you have a pet-black dots-yes/no-white dots

  • 4th letter-Which subject do you like the most?reading-red; math-blue;science-green; pe-purple; art-orange; music-yellow; other-brown

  • 5th letter-How do you get to school?walk-yellow/bus-purple/car-red/van-0range/other-green

  • 6th letter-Do you like ice cream?yes-black triangle/no-white triangles

  • 7th letter-Do you like sports?yes-black stars /no-white stars

  • more than seven letters - color the eighth like the first one, and so on.

This idea came from the Mailbox magazine, Aug/Sept. 2002


The chart below tells you what each color bead means. Read the chart carefully and choose your beads.

  • RED – if you are a girl

  • BLUE – if you are a boy

  • ORANGE – how many sisters you have

  • GREEN – how many brothers you have

  • WHITE – how many pets you have

  • BLACK – how many different elementary schools you have attended

  • YELLOW – if you like reading (0=don’t like, 1=a little, 2=a lot)

  • PURPLE – if you like math (0=don’t like, 1=a little, 2=a lot)

  • SPORTS BEADS ~ pick 1 bead to show which sport you like the best

  • SMILEY FACE BEADS – if you like third grade (0=don’t like, 1=a little, 2=a lot)

* Once you have your beads, get your initial beads and make a cool pattern.Please bring your necklace to me when you are finished and I will put the end on it.

Fill out the questions below. Just look at other students’ necklaces to find your answers!

1. Name one person who has the same number of sisters as you: ______________

2. Name one person who has the same number of brothers as you:___________

3. Name one person who has more pets than you do: ______________________

4. Find two people who have gone to more than one elementary school: __________________ __________________

5. Find one person who likes reading the same as you do:________________

6. Find one person who likes math less than you do: ____________________

7. How many people in your group like third grade a lot? ________

8. How many people in your group have pets? ________

9. How many people in your group like reading and math a lot? ________

10. How many people in your group have only gone to one elementary school?____________

11. Write your own question! ___________________________________________

Answer to your question: _________________

Getting to know you necklace - DIRECTIONS

1. I buy the beads (colored, sports, and smiley faces), string (black stretchy necklace cord), and clasps in the craft section of Wal-Mart.

2. Before the day of the activity, cut the necklace cord and attach the clasp to one end. Make sure you make it the right length for your kiddos!

3. Copy the paper and fold it in 1/2 below the smiley faces. Let the kids choose their beads using the chart. They get a cord, arrange the beads in a pattern of their choice, and bring it to you to attach the other end of the clasp. It's very helpful to have another adult or two to help you tie! I usually don't have help, so I plan the activity so that I can tie the necklaces while they are in specials or at lunch and then we continue the activity later...

4. When everyone has a necklace the kids should all put them on. Then they flip their papers over and go around the room answering the questions by looking at everyone else's necklaces.

5. Helpful tip: Tell the kids that they will probably want to wear the necklace again, especially at the end of the year. (For some reason they always do...although some will wear theirs throughout the year). Anyway, I always tell them to find a safe place to hang it at home so they won't lose it!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The First Day of School Plan

"What you do on the first days of school will determine your success or failure for the rest of the school year. You will either win or lose your class on the first days of school."

-Harry Wong

Advice from the Peanut Gallery to help prepare for the first day of school

Maria Mallon (1st grade) says, "First day of school - it's here - be prepared - have every minute planned. Have books ready to read, projects ready to work on, and fun games to play (whole group). Make sure you know how every child is getting home. Greet children at the door - thank parents for coming and remind parents that school is starting (and they have to leave.) I like to have bins set up outside the classroom for supplies that come in - labeled with item names.
Rituals and routines for looping classes are reviewed. New classes are taught these for the first few weeks - how to go to the bathroom, Fire drill, how to line up, lunch room expectations, dismissal expectations, how to sit in hallway in the morning, how to come into class in the morning, what is expected when a visitor is in the classroom, jobs list, etc. Visit the lunch room and the table before lunch and talk about lunch room manners.

The day will fly by. Have treats (ice pops) for children after recess - it is so hot the first few weeks of school. I think that if you are having fun and are excited, then the parents and children will feel the same way. It is a brand new school year -- how great is that!! I suggest getting with someone you feel comfortable with - ask questions -- and have the best year ever!! We were all in your shoes, we know what it feels like, and we are glad you are going on this journey with us!!"

Debbie Harbour (1st grade) says, "The day goes by faster than you think. Do some type of game to get to know the kids. I read a book about the first day of school pretty early in the day. I always do some type of scavenger hunt. For kindergarten we have clues to follow from Chester Raccoon to learn all the different places around the school. Then at the end they find a treat. For first grade we will use clues for each place but we will leave the teachers small treats to say welcome back and then find treats waiting for us. (ice pops work well since it is hot outside). Make sure you take time for recess as well. Don’t forget the important things like bathroom and dismissal discussions. Above all, remember things always take longer that first day than expected."

Denise Evanko (2nd grade) says, "On the first day have a cart with a label that says, "SCHOOL SUPPLIES". I was amazed at how much stuff I got. Have a place in your room to store it all because it will come in all week long. Also, let them know where you want papers to be turned in. Have a checklist of all the forms that need to come back. Providing incentives really helps getting all the papers back quickly! Talk to your team and run through your first day with an experienced teacher. They can help tremendously!

Christy Constande (4th grade) suggests, "I would try to run the first day of school as close to your daily routine as possible. Of course you want to include creating your list of behavioral expectations for the classroom, the special 'first day' activities that we will have, and any theme related or team building activities you have up your sleeve, but I would also include a Readers' Workshop, Writers' Workshop, at least one read aloud, and a math lesson. Establishing the rituals and routines from the minute the students walk in the door has helped me tremendously.

You will be receiving " loads" of supplies and paperwork. Ask around. Many teachers have a system for collecting the goodies and important paperwork. My teaching partners and I don't take teaching time that first day to collect. We set up areas for the students to deposit their supplies, and then we organize it after they leave.

Students will also be bringing back lots of paperwork from the first day packet that is sent home. Just ask, many teachers have set up a spreadsheet for the paperwork that is collected. That way you can keep track of who has brought it in and who hasn't.

Vicki Groves (1st grade) says, "Day 1 must-do activities: How to use the restroom and where it is... Tour of school... (practicing lining up and walking in a line as a class)... Where to sit in the Dining Room and how to get lunch... How to go home... Where to come and what to do on day 2... Most important...How do you get home today? I fill in the rest of day with recess, at least one read aloud, a few "getting to know you" games/activities, a Readers' Workshop and a Math Workshop.

Tom Ruark (5th grade) suggests, If I had any advice for a new teacher, it would be as follows: However you can (write it on the board, call on the phone, send a note, wear a sticker...) let the students and parents know that you will take care of these children as if they were your own! In fact, they will be yours before you know it.

I will probably say the following affirmations many times on the first day:
You guys seem so bright. I am so lucky!
Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the planet!
We are going to have a great year!
Collectively, we are going to break some IQ records!
You guys are so bright I need shades!
I can't wait to get to know you guys better.
If you ever feel a little lost, that's a good thing. If you knew everything, you'd be bored, and I wouldn't have a job!
My goal is to create a classroom where everybody feels safe to participate. Any ideas on how we can do that?
Confusion is a sign of great learning!
Let's have a golf clap and a princess wave for Mr./Miss_______."