New Teacher Information & Support

SchoolWelcome to Castle Rock School District. We are thrilled to have you as a part of our team! Please feel free to contact your mentor and myself at any time for support, ideas, or just someone to talk to. I know you will do a great job with our Castle Rock Students!

Patty Gelbrich, Director of Teaching and Learning

PREPARATION: This is key!

PREPARATION:  This is key!Preparing for Day One of School! We know the first three days of the school year are vitally important. Here are some tips from Rebecca Alber...

  1. Be organized, tidy and ready!!! This will immediately stand out to students. Wow, supplies are all organized and labeled, books are on shelves, and look at her desk! Everything has its place and all is in order.

    Be sure to also have ready your procedures and hard rules so you can share them at the very start of the day. Explicitly teach everything!

  2. Have too much and too many of everything! Make extra copies, just in case. There is really nothing worse than being one or two copies short. Panic! Need name tags or construction paper? Get the extra large pack (you can use the leftovers for another project). Have a surplus of pens or pencils handy for those kids who have already misplaced or lost theirs. It WILL happen!

  3. OVERPLAN the lessons! Timing is everything. And the last thing you want is for there to be six minutes left before the lunch bell and have little to nothing for students to do. You don't want them to see you scrambling for a sponge activity not connected to the prior teaching so overplan the day. And the best part about this? You'll have most of the next lesson already done.

  4. REHEARSE! If your "welcome to this class" speech includes new material (a new procedure or content -- something you've never introduced before), practice. If you are a new teacher, this is imperative. By rehearsing, this gives you an idea on pacing, one of the greatest challenges for most beginning teachers. Keep a PERKY PACE!

    If you are using technology, arrive early to make sure all is in place and working.

  5. Be ready for anything and EVERYTHING! Don't think you will need the principal's phone extension that first day, or that replenished first-aid kit, or have to directly address name-calling with a student five minutes after the bell? We wish, but unfortunately, it happens. Students will be impressed if something goes awry and you handle it quickly, and with wisdom and grace. So, be ready for anything!

  6. Start learning names immediately! The sooner you dive in on this task the better! I am a visual learner so making a seating chart right away and using their names as much as possible helps. Many teachers will tell you that getting names down as soon as possible helps with discipline and, sure, this is true. However, I believe that rather than assisting in an authoritative way, it more importantly sends the message loudly and clearly that you are interested and that you care. That is what students need to know - you care about them! Learning Names Activities

Most of all - have fun, keep the day upbeat, but be extra structured, organized and explicitly teach absolutely everything you expect!

ROOM ENVIRONMENT: Your home away from home!

Create Classroom Learning Zones! Veronica Lopez shares tips for creating the perfect classroom environment. Check it out...

TIPS: Think about classroom space fundamentals! (by Todd Finley)

    • Flexibility: Students should be able to easily transition to functional spaces, such as a class library, literacy center, computer area, stage, reading nook, etc.
    • Belonging: Learners should feel like the space is theirs. Put up pictures of kids and exemplary work. Put up posters that feature diverse faces.
    • Interaction: By turning their seats, students should be able to quickly work with a small group.
    • Attention: Show off valued materials. (Elementary school teacher Chris Weaver displays books by inserting them into inexpensive vinyl rain gutters attached to her walls.)
    • Neat: Supplies, tools, furniture, and books should be stored instead of left out (see Scholastic's Survival Guide and list of clutter busters, and Pinterest's DIY Classroom).
    • Concentration:
      • In 2011, Kenn Fisher, head of the OECD Programme on Educational Building, stated that air quality, temperature, and lighting are linked to student behaviors and academic performance.
      • A number of studies on temperature with office workers (not students) demonstrate that excessive humidity and class temperatures above 77 and below 72 degrees Fahrenheit degrade mental output and attention span. As the instructor, you might be hot from continuously moving all day. So set the temperature for your students.
      • Sound-absorbing materials will help students focus. (Ask your administrator to buy Roxul Rockboard 80, Mineral Wool Board, or other low-cost acoustic insulation. If a parent or administrator asks why, explain that noise can release excess cortisol, which impairs the prefrontal cortex's ability to store short-term memories.)
      • Do fluorescent lights negatively impact cognition? Dozens of studies on the subject since the 1940s offer contradictory conclusions.

Also, your classroom walls are important learning real estate -- spaces to fill with content-related murals, posters, banners, whiteboards, and bulletin boards.

Make Sure Bulletin Boards Are Teaching Tools

My first classroom bulletin board featured a hundred hand-colored carp. Sadly, my tribute to oily freshwater fish had nothing to do with second grade curriculum. This would have displeased a high-strung principal that I talked to a while back -- he bragged about making an instructor tear down a bulletin board that didn't display standards-based content with clear visual communication. Bulletin boards today are expected to reinforce concepts, skills, rules, and routines; to present exemplary work; and to showcase students' photos and awards. The best of them are also decorative, alliterative, and playful.

Consider creating a graphic organizer on a bulletin board in front of students while introducing a new concept. As the display grows more elaborate, students' conceptual knowledge will deepen. Later, you can refer students back to the display. Conversely, challenge them to collaboratively design a display that visually organizes their content understanding, using something like Heidi McDonald's book report templates. But check to ensure that no misconceptions or misspellings have been posted.

To enhance eyeball appeal, Kim's Korner suggests making bulletin board borders with wide ribbons, hot-glued crayons, or laminated wrapping paper cut into strips.

Find more bulletin board inspiration at the following sites:

Middle School Classroom Videos

High School Classroom Videos

  • Don't miss Ms. Navarro's purposeful bulletin boards, whiteboard organization, bins with self-trackers, and other classroom design innovations.
  • Alejandra Costello helps a high school math teacher organize her class.
  • Classroom Caboodle shows teacher supplies that you can buy at a Dollar Store.

CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT: Start out strong with classroom management! It will pay off in the longrun.

CLASSROOM MANAGEMENTNew Teacher - Classroom Management Fundamentals

5 Quick Tips and Ideas for Classroom Management (by Rebecca Alber)

1. Use a normal, natural voice

2. Speak when students are quiet and ready

3. Use signals and non-verbal cues

4. Address behavior issues quickly and quietly

5. Plan engaging, well-designed lessons, and have a back-up plan

Specific Tips for the Primary Grades

Specific Tips for Middle and Secondary Grades

Establishing Effective Rules and Routines

Struggling with issues related to managing technology in your classroom? The following posts will help you tackle common issues:

Managing Disruptive Behavior

No matter how engaging the lessons, every teacher is bound to encounter disruptive and off-task behavior in class from time to time, and it's important to develop strategies and interventions to prevent learning from getting derailed. The following posts should help.

Gaining and Keeping Student Attention

Strategies for gaining attention are an important part of any teacher's classroom-management toolkit. The following resources include attention-grabbing ideas for elementary, middle, and secondary classrooms:

Once you have student attention, how do you keep it? For more resources on engaging students, explore a variety of resources on Edutopia's Student Engagement page; consider starting with Edutopia's "Student Engagement: Resource Roundup."

Building Relationships and Creating a Positive Climate for Learning

Fostering strong and consistent relationships with students can help new teachers build a solid foundation for other classroom-management strategies. Not sure where to start? The following articles and posts describe specific, concrete strategies that new teachers can implement:

Students learn best in environments where they feel respected, supported, and valued. To help students thrive in a safe, positive, and open classroom climate, consider the following tips from experienced educators:

Words of Encouragement From Experienced Teachers

Whether you are a new or a more experienced teacher, know that if you're experiencing challenges, you're not alone. These posts offer some encouragement:

  1. For teachers who need a pep talk in advance of another day of performance, read Todd Finley's "You're Gonna Hear Me Roar: Overcoming Classroom Stage Fright," full of useful tips for working through fear.
  2. After a rough day in the classroom, it might help to read "Don't Quit: 5 Strategies for Recovering After Your Worst Day Teaching."
  3. In the face of classroom-management challenges, it's important to take a moment to regain perspective. In "Like a Wood Duck: Finding Peace in the Classroom," Ben Johnson offers some suggestions to help you regain your serenity.