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Everyone loves Before & After Pictures, right?  So, here we go!

These pictures are just what my room looked like at the very beginning of the year.  At the end of this post, I’ll post some pictures of what my room eventually evolved into throughout the year.

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And now for some details.

My Desk Area

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This table below is to the right of my desk, and where I keep my Master Notebook.

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The Student Center

The Studnt Center is located right at the entrance of the classroom, to the left of my door.

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The clipboard hanging on the wall is what my school uses for Hall Passes.  At the beginning of the year, I kept generic school information on here, but this later became my Data Wall, where I would post student grades anonymously, using their Student IDs.

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The green flower was used as decor at a little boutique I used to work at and that went out of business.   I designed the letters myself using this template, which you can feel free to grab and edit to your liking:

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Here are my inboxes for each period.  In addition to the bins, I also use decorative folders.  They help keep the papers more tidy and organized, and I can just grab a class folder and take it to my desk.  This is also where our shared classroom supplies live — tape, stapler, and 3-hole punch.  I also keep the tissues and hand sanitizer here (high schoolers actually use A LOT of hand sanitizer and tissues, so don’t be afraid to put those things on your Materials List at the bgeinning of the year, or even offer Extra Credit for kids who bring stuff like that in), as well as where I collect Bathroom Passes.

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These are my two Student Notebooks, which the students have access to at all times.

The first one is the “Make-Up Work Notebook,” which students consult when they are absent.  For each week, I type up a page of everything we did on each day, including Bellwork and any notes or activities we did. I also list what materials they need to either get from me, or copy from a friend.  The actual worksheets and assignemtns are in the “Absent Bin,” which is also labeled by day.

The second one is the “Extra Creit Notebook,” which holds several Extra Credit opportunities and assignments, so that students can choose the assignment that best suits them.  I offer Extra Credit all year, but students can only get a certain amount of Extra Credit points per quarter, and they are excluded from Extra Credit opportunities if they have too many missing assignments or homework, and if they have too many behavior warnings and issues.

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Here are my covers, which again, you can feel free to grab and edit.  The original can be found here, at Living, Laughing, and Loving.

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And the original:

Originally from Living, Laughing, Loving

Originally from Living, Laughing, Loving

Aaaaand, here is the Student Center later in the year, with a dry-erase calendar and Student Data:

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The week before I started teaching was cah-razy — I had less than a week before pre-planning.  The first thing I did was immediately drive the three hours back home to my mom’s house to steal all of her relevant school supplies that I thought I could use.

My dear mother has been teaching elementary school for 35 years, and had just retired a mere couple months earlier.  Miss Sammie, my twin sister, and I had driven down to help her clear our her classroom, and put aside anything we thought might be useful in a middle or high school Social Studies class.  Luckily, she happened to have tons of history-related posters and even more generic school supplies, as well as some cute classroom decor.  I grabbed everything I thought I would need for the first couple of weeks, as well as some elementary-related things for my roommate, and headed straight back to Orlando.

I was hired with enough time to attend the generic orientation at the district office (finger-printing, paper work, insurance, etc), but it was too late to attend the 3-day new teacher orientation.  So, throughout the course of my first year, on top of everything else I had to worry about, I was also required to attend 3 or 4 “mini-sessions” to replace the new-teacher orientation.  I didn’t mind at all, though, because I am a total school/knowledge nerd, so I sign up for every training that I possibly can anyway.

My mother followed us back to Orlando a couple days later to help me and my roommate get our classrooms set up, and since Miss Sammie hadn’t applied for a job yet, she helped out a lot, as well.  And really, without the extra help, it would have been almost impossible to get everything done on time.  A bulk of pre-planning time is devoted to faculty meetings, new teacher meetings, department meetings, and faculty lunches or other activites.  On each day, I really only had a couple hours to do actual work in my classroom.  So, while I was at meetings, my mother and Miss Sammie started setting up my room.

Not only did I have the other new teachers to bond with and hang out with this first week, but my Social Studies and World History PLC (Professional Learning Community) were also invaluable to me those first couple weeks.  I always had someone to sit with at meetings, we went to lunch together a couple of times, and I got to pick their brains about first day and first week stuff almost immediately.

Here’s a preview of what my classroom looked like when I got it:

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Stay tuned for my post about how I eventually ended up setting my room.

Okay, so here’s how I got my first job and how I dealt with the stress/anxiety/craziness.

I got my Master’s Degree in May 2012, and started applying for teaching jobs even before that.  I easily applied for probably about 50 jobs just in Orange County (Florida), and only got three call backs.  My roommate, who was getting her Elementary Education Master’s degree at the time, was also applying for jobs and having similar bad luck.  And this is with a Master’s Degree!  Ridiculous.

First Attempt:

My first interview was for a high school in a rougher part of town.  I live in a major metropolitan area, so there are definitely parts of the city that are less than savory.  The school itself had just been rebuilt, but as I was driving to the interview, I was certainly getting nervous about the surrounding area.  Like, I was not feeling safe.

I actually used to live near this area at one point, and it was the worst area I’ve ever lived in.  I would not go out to the store or to the gas station by myself if it was dark out.  There were regular reports of shootings and stabbings in the area.  Overall, it was not good.

So, when I arrive at the school itself, it is beautiful and I’m actually sort of excited to have the opportunity to teach somewhere where I’ll be “most needed.”  As a new teacher, I knew the probability of me getting hired at a “rougher” school was pretty high, and I looked at it as though it was sort of my duty, or just dues I would have to pay as a new teacher.

This principal, though.  Oh, this principal.  First of all, she looked like she was out of a 90s rock music video.  Bedazzled jeans and giant belt, high black boots, hair frizzed out to there.  Apparently, she was a new principle, and she had a very specific view of who she wanted to hire.  She went on to pretty much scare the crap out of me about working there — talking about how police and security have to regularly use tazers to break up fights, and how students are forced to the ground and arrested from campus on a daily basis.  Then, she basically admitted that she was looking for a bulky, male teacher.  That she didn’t think I looked like I could handle it.

Well, after that description, I wasn’t so sure myself.  In fact, my boyfriend forbid me from taking the job, even if they offered it to me.  He would rather work an extra job than have me working at that school.

Looking back, I’m even more annoyed by this experience, because I have since met a teacher who used to work there.  According to her, the kids were really great and she said she wouldn’t consider it any “worse” than the school we currently teach out.

Obviously, I did not get hired.

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Miss Cordy: cordyjay@gmail.com
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Since: Summer 2013
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