Saturday, 28 May 2016

Tips for Changing Teaching Assignments

As the end of the school year approaches, it's often safe to say that someone you know is about to change teaching assignments.  This could very well be you.  When the teaching assignment change is by choice, it becomes exciting.  But when the assignment is due to a surplus in staffing, then the anxiety sets in.  Here are a few tips to help you ease into your new assignment and to think about ways to prepare for the upcoming school year :

Make your lists as soon as you know which grade you are teaching.  Think of it as a "to do".  If you're unsure about what a particular grade needs, do ask for some feedback from same grade teachers.  Teachers often love to give advice and are willing to help out a colleague.  Never think you have to plan and begin the school year in isolation.  If you are still at your present school, do ask to shadow a teacher who is teaching the same grade you will be the following year.

Know your curriculum.  Spend time learning what the expectations are.  Before you look for resources, look at what needs to be covered.  Often, scope and sequence charts are created by jurisdiction.  These will help assist you in seeing what the students should have known the year before and what they will learn the following year. They are also useful when teaching combined grades.

Establish routines from the beginning.  Ask same grade or division partner what routines have been established prior to your assignment.  If you are working with older students, routines and expectations can be co-constructed together if routines have not been set in place by division.  Students love when they have some voice and some choice.  It gives them ownership of the class and makes for a better transition from their last grade.

When you are able to, reach out to parents.  Remember this is partnering of education. Begin the school year with a newsletter and start a website. I used the Remind101 app to keep in touch with the parents of my students.  The app is free and parents loved knowing I would give them a friendly reminder for field trips, forms, book orders, etc.via text message.  What I love is that the app never gives out my own number.  I am assigned a number through the app.  Do make a call after the first week to touch base and let parents know the lines of communication are open.

Remember that you can create a caring classroom community wherever you are placed.  A transition is challenging at any grade level.  Remember to team up with other members in the school and community.  It's ok to ask for help.

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