- Pre-assess: Assessment drives instruction. Figure out how you will pre-assess your students. Find out if the district has a pre-assessment plan or if you can make up your own. Learn how to read and understand the assessment so that you can tailor your instruction.
- Create a calendar for the year: Although you might not stick to it, map out the year. This allows you to create a timeframe for each unit/topic. It also allows you to learn the curriculum as a whole.
- Over plan: Plan more than less. You can always use the materials and lessons you did not cover the following day or even when you are absent. If students have “down” time, behavior issues may arise.
- Set your expectations high: Set high expectations from the beginning. If you expect only a little from your students, they will give you the minimum. If you expect a lot from your students, they have a goal to achieve. Not every student will reach your expectations, but each student will have grown.
- Create a child-friendly learning environment: Allow your students the ability and willingness to take risks. Never put them down when the answer is wrong, but say “good try” or “let’s have someone else in the class help you.” Also, manage inappropriate behaviors quickly and firmly to ensure good class control for the entire school year.
Christina Sciarrotto has been an elementary school teacher for 13 years and currently teaches first grade in New York. She also serves as a mentor teacher and has served as a summer school principal for 8 years.