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