So, you’ve accepted a classroom mid-year, and the big question is, “What now?” Having worked closely with friends and fellow educators who’ve taken on this challenge, here are the invaluable insights they wished they had sooner. Let’s explore the absolute must-do’s if you find yourself starting teaching mid-year.
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1. Start Over
When stepping into a classroom mid-year, the inclination is often to hit the ground running. However, this might lead to interruptions due to unexpected behaviors. Instead, consider treating it like a fresh start for everyone. Dedicate a couple of days to establish your classroom expectations, rules, and procedures. Think of it as laying a solid foundation for a successful second start to the school year.
2. Procedures Matter
Procedures are the unsung heroes of classroom management. They define how you want your students to interact with each other, materials, and various areas in the room. Take time to teach these procedures explicitly. Follow a simple model: demonstrate what it looks like and sounds like, discuss it, show the wrong way and discuss why, and then practice. Important procedures to cover include getting in line, turning in items, getting attention, restroom breaks, grabbing extra materials, and using ready signals.
3. Community Building
Joining a class mid-year means your students have established relationships that you haven’t had the time to nurture. This is why community building is crucial. It sets a positive tone for everyone involved. Engage your students in activities that foster a sense of community, such as “Would you rather,” “Four corners,” “Who am I 5 fingers activity,” or a “Cup stacking activity.” Building relationships is not just beneficial for your students; it’s also an opportunity for you to get to know them better.
4. Look at Data
After establishing a community, delve into any available data as soon as possible. This could be state testing results, monthly progress monitoring, or recent assessments. Understanding your students’ current skill levels helps tailor your lessons to match their needs. It also guides you in identifying students who may require additional support.
5. Be Kind to Yourself
Perhaps the most crucial point: be kind to yourself. It’s tempting to dive headfirst into the challenges of a mid-year start. Remember, teaching is a long-term profession. Burning out on day one doesn’t benefit anyone. Pace yourself, prioritize self-care, and acknowledge that it’s okay not to have all the answers immediately.
In summary, these are the 5 must-do’s if you are starting teaching mid-year:
- Starting over
- Emphasizing procedures
- Community building
- Looking at data
- Being kind to yourself
If you’re eager to delve deeper into setting up your classroom, effective teaching strategies, and managing your classroom from day one, consider joining the Classroom Kickstart Mini-Course. It’s a 4-week self-paced program covering all aspects of starting strong in the middle of the school year.
Or check out the Ultimate Classroom Setup Guide where I share the top things to consider as you set up your classroom for a successful school year.
As always remember: