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Beginning your first year of teaching can be exciting and overwhelming all at the same time. Getting a classroom ready and planning those first few weeks can be all encompassing. Here are a few suggestions to make your transition to teaching in Jordan District a little easier:

1. Create an account in JPLS:

Here’s a new acronym for you to learn: Jordan Professional Learning System (JPLS). This is the district portal to find professional development classes offered in the district. To set up your account, you will want to contact the Help Desk at (801)-567-8737. The link is: https://jpls.truenorthlogic.com/U/P/Channel/-/Guest/Login

2. Sign up for a JPAS class:

JPAS (Jordan Performance Appraisal System) is our district evaluation system. Each year the JPAS department offers classes to help new teachers and veteran teachers learn how to work through the evaluation. New teachers even receive a stipend for taking the course if you attend the face-to-face version. Now that you have an account on JPLS, you can sign up for a class! Here’s their course schedule: http://jes.jordandistrict.org/educators/trainings/

3. Become familiar with Employee Access:

Do you know where to enter a sick day? Employee access is where you can find out how many days you have, what your current salary is, and even get a check estimate for what your next paycheck might look like. If you need help figuring this out, your mentor may be a great resource. (Have you met your mentor yet?)  Here’s the link for Employee Access: https://skyfin.jordan.k12.ut.us/scripts/wsisa.dll/WService=wsFin/seplog01.w

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Congratulations! You made it to the end of the school year! During the craziness of the final days, it is important for teachers to take a moment to reflect on the past year and begin to plan toward the next. There are multiple ways teachers reflect. Elena Aguilar, an instructional coach in California and author of The Art of Coaching: Effective Strategies for School Transformation (Jossey-Bass, 2013), shared an article with Education Week titled Reflecting on a Year of Learning (2014).

Aguilar suggests two ways we reflect are through talking and writing. "Some people like to talk more than they like to write; some like to write more than talk. Most of us benefit from a mixture of activities." She encourages teachers to find someone to reflect with (possibly a school team), and as you reflect to use talking and writing to expand your ideas.

She also suggests teachers can draw out their year and map it from beginning to end visually using art. Reflect on the whole year and design symbols or pictures to show important events.

Need help getting started? Here are some questions to ponder and begin the reflection process:

  • What is something you accomplished this year that you are proud of?
  • What did you try for the first time this year that was successful?
  • Which student in your class showed the most improvement? Why did they do so well? What did you do to help them?
  • What caused you the most stress this year? Are there things that can help eliminate that stress or make it more bearable?
  • What things do you plan to try differently next year? What support might you need? Is there someone in your building or district that can help you?
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Although the best way to adapt a lesson for your students who are less proficient at mastering material quickly is to respond to them as individuals, sometimes you may find that several students are experiencing difficulties. In the following list, you will find some ways to adapt lessons so that all of your students can be successful.

  • Vary the learning modalities in a lesson that will make it easier for all students to learn and use their preferred learning styles.
  • Provide more examples, models, and demonstrations.
  • Build on students’ prior knowledge.
  • Build students’ self-confidence by encouraging their efforts as well as their achievements.
  • Allow students to work with peers in mixed-ability groups.
  • Supply students with support materials such as word banks, graphic organizers,  technology practice, and outlines.
  • Give more time to complete an assignment.

Helping struggling students in a variety of ways will guide them on the road to success and make your classroom a fun and interesting learning environment for everyone.

Adapted from The First-Year Teacher’s Checklist: A Quick Reference for Classroom Success by Julia G. Thompson

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You’ve survived the craziness of the holidays and have had some time to relax. It’s a new year and with it comes new hopes, new dreams, and new possibilities.

As you reflect on your experiences so far this school year, are there things you would like to change? While all teachers can adjust their instruction, management, and teaching style at any point during the year, the beginning of a new year is always a great time to do this.

Take a few minutes to consider these tips to help you start 2018 as an even more effective and confident teacher:

  • Focus on curriculum development and teaching strategies using your newfound confidence and energy.
  • Try something new with your students and talk about the results with other teachers, even if it didn’t work out the way you had expected it to.  Now that you have made it through some difficult times, you have valuable experience to share.
  • Expand your professional network to include new and experienced teachers. Pooling ideas from multiple sources gives you many more ideas.
  • Go back and examine your vision of successful teaching.  Honestly evaluate your teaching efforts from the beginning of the school year to see how far you have come as an educator.

These questions can help you recognize your successes and determine your future actions:

  • What worked?
  • What didn't work?
  • What’s next?

Make the new year a fresh start in your classroom for you and your students.

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How Do I Spend My Legislative Money?
Have you ever wondered what is best to buy with your legislative money?

Rules Regarding the Use of Legislative Money

  1. The money should be spent PRIMARILY on consumables that you cannot purchase through the district warehouse, or that you wish to buy above and beyond what other funding allows
  2. Non-consumable items you purchase will follow you through the school district.  However, if you pool your money and purchase items with a colleague or team, the items should stay at the school where they were purchased.
  3. If you leave the school district, any items purchased with legislative money will remain at the school you leave.  Remember, this is only if you leave the district.
  4. Be sure to turn in receipts ONLY for the total amount you are given.  Anything spent over that total amount belongs to you and can go with you if you move districts.
  5. It can be helpful to write "purchased with legislative funds" or "purchased with personal money" on non-consumable items you buy.
  6. Check with your secretary for the final due date and protocol for submitting receipts,  as procedures will vary by school.

Purchasing Ideas

markers giant sticky notes
colored pencils dry erase markers
glue vis-a-vis makers
scissors mini white boards
crayons class sets of approved books
organization tubs books for classroom library
candy (for incentives and rewards/activities) picture books for teaching
pens bookshelves
pencils wire baskets
class sets of highlighters technology tools
post-it notes paper
jump drives notepads
classroom posters teacher guides
dry erase paper workbooks
rubber bands stapler
3 ring binders electric pencil sharpener
3 x 5 note cards 3-hole punch
classroom set of calculators storage crates
binder clips name badges
push pins awards

 

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Why should teachers have students practice routines? If you have ever had the chance to observe kindergarten, especially at the beginning of the year, you may see a lot of repetition of directions. Kindergarten teachers know that their students need to  practice basic skills a lot: sitting in their seats, moving to the carpet, raising their hands to talk, sharpening pencils, lining up... you name it. Kindergarten teachers are pros at establishing routines.

Routines should be established and built in all levels of teaching. It is important for teachers to set these expectations and practice them with their students, even with older grades and students in secondary schools.

In this TED Talk, How To Use A Paper Towel, Joe Smith teaches adults how to help the environment by using paper towels more effectively. Watch the video and see what techniques he uses to help his audience remember the directions.

When we give directions, we should try to follow these basic ideas:

  1. Get the student's attention and make sure you have it!
  2. Give clear, positive directions with high expectations.
  3. Limit the number of directions and steps to the directions. 
  4. Vary the way directions are given (teacher modeled, student modeled, using phrases like, "When I say go...", students repeating directions). 
  5. Be consistent and follow through.
  6. Give students time to process.
  7. Repeat directions if needed.

If you find you are struggling to have students follow directions or they struggle to do routine tasks, try using some of these ideas to help your students remember the routines and procedures for your classroom. It is never to late to polish up routines and procedures to help students be successful!

 

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During their first year, new teachers experience some extreme phases of teaching. According to the New Teacher Center, teachers experience five phases.

This time of year, our new teachers may discover the disillusionment phase. They begin to realize the amount of time teaching takes, their management and planning may not be going the way they had envisioned, and they might question why they became a teacher in the first place. As a mentor or colleague, you may witness your provisional educator "express self-doubt, have lower self-esteem, and question their professional commitment" (New Teacher Center, 2017).

Disillusionment

Our department recently worked with lead mentors in Jordan District to illustrate the phases and share strategies to help teachers through them. Mentors and colleagues can provide emotional support for their teachers by genuinely listening to them, encouraging them, giving positive feedback and helping them with perspective.

Instructionally, mentors can help plan lessons, observe their teaching and model lesson ideas for them, and help provide ideas to help with management challenges.

Mentors can also help new educators with logistical items, such as making copies, offering advice on parent teacher conferences or evaluations, assisting them with grading, and finding books or materials that will help them with areas the new teacher is concerned with.

If we can support our new educators through the disillusionment phase, we have a better chance of retaining them. As mentors look to support their new teachers and provide the emotional, instructional and logistical support they need through the phases, they can make a huge difference for new teachers.

Resources:
New Teacher Center. (2017). From surviving to thriving: the phases of first-year teaching. 

Mentor Training New Teacher Phases document

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