I learned the hard way what is and is not classroom management. Hired three days before school started, one day of “orientation” that covered HR’s responsibility to tell me about my benefits and where to find the district policy handbook online, then I was handed the keys to my classroom, shop, and computer lab on Thursday afternoon. Friday was my only day on campus before school started on Monday. I had nothing, literally nothing figured out. No textbooks, no lesson plans, no class lists or seating charts. I was emailed a school rules PowerPoint that was to be shown on the first day in my “Homeroom” class, called “Falcon Time”. I was hired to teach three different classes, one for sixth/seventh grade students, Exploring Careers. Technology Education for seventh/eight grade students and Principles of Construction for eighth grade students that conferred high school credit.
I spent the first week vamping and trying to find textbooks, lesson plans, TEKS and the scope and sequence that the state of Texas and my district wanted me to teach. Everyone kept telling me, “The first year is the toughest, hang in there it will get better.” Someone suggested I pick up a copy of Harry Wong’s “The First Days of School, How to be an Effective Teacher” about a month into my first semester. As I read and turned the pages of this book it became very clear to me that I had really gotten off on the wrong foot. I had no classroom rules, no policy or procedure, only the school and district policy that was in the PowerPoint emailed to me on the first day. I begged my administration for help and was given the opportunity to visit a few other schools in the district and observe experienced teachers that taught the same classes I was teaching. That could have been a really great experience, but I showed up at the first school I was sent to visit and was directed to the teacher’s classroom. When I said “Hello” and shook her hand, she gave me a very puzzled look. She had no idea that I was going to come visit her classroom that day! Typical of most teachers, she was generous with her time, talents and resources, as were the next three teachers I “dropped in” to observe. I did come away with loads of great advice, web sites, information, some lesson plans, but most importantly a few email addresses and experienced teachers in my corner!
I survived my first semester and most of my classes were only one semester long, so I had the opportunity to remake myself and begin with a new set classroom procedures and rules when the new semester began in January. I greeted my students in the hall, shook their hands and said “Hello”, there was a PowerPoint slide on the front screen that directed each student to their assigned seat and listed the agenda for the day. I had now created a “House Rules” PowerPoint and started my class with a discussion about the rules at their homes. My classroom now has rules, routine, and procedures. I can tell you, both students and teacher are learning more every day!