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Getting Started—A Checklist for Beginning Teachers


Before the First Day
On the First Day
Throughout the Year


Before the First Day

Ask your principal about the school's policy and procedures with respect to these matters:
  • class lists
  • computer program for tracking such things as attendance and marks
  • enrolment/parent information forms
  • field trips
  • fire drills
  • homework
  • hospitality fund
  • library resources for students and teachers
  • opening day
  • opening exercises
  • paper and other supplies
  • petty cash
  • photocopies
  • registration
  • schedules and timetables
  • school arrival and dismissal times
  • school assemblies
  • school council
  • school handbook
  • school keys and security
  • school-wide rules
  • staff meetings
  • staff parking
  • student evaluation
  • student fees
  • substitutes
  • supervision responsibilities


Familiarize yourself with the ATA Diary, which contains the following information:
  • a daily calendar for the school year
  • a copy of the Code of Professional Conduct
  • a copy of Rights and Responsibilities of Teachers
  • a list of members of Provincial Executive Council
  • a description of Association services


Review the program of studies and relevant curriculum guides and teacher manuals to understand how they support learner expectations.


Rehearse your first lessons by being organized and over prepared.


Get organized by carrying out these task:
  • duplicate materials you will need in the first few days
  • obtain a receipt book in case you need to collect money
  • make a checklist of forms that need to be returned
  • make signs for the room
  • organize your daily plan book to include general/specific learner expectations
  • create a textbook distribution record
  • plan activities for the first day in detail
  • prepare an outline for the first week
  • prepare a class list
  • decide how you will arrange your classroom
  • establish a seating plan
Prepare your files by creating a folder on these topics:
  • late and absent notes
  • parent correspondence
  • record keeping and examples of student work
  • staff bulletins and memos
  • substitute teachers
  • student marks and grades
  • emergency lessons
  • each unit that you will begin at school opening


Get to know your students by doing the following:
  • learn as many names as possible
  • find out which students are receiving special help
  • prepare tentative groupings for instruction
  • read the cumulative records for each student
  • review your provision for individual differences


Produce a welcoming newsletter that includes these features:
  • a brief introduction of yourself
  • a summary of your philosophy of discipline
  • an explanation of how parents might be involved in the classroom
  • important dates
  • an invitation to parents to call or visit the school


Prepare a package, containing the following items, to send home with students on the first day:
  • a copy of your welcoming newsletter
  • forms required by the school
  • a list of supplies that the school provides and a list of supplies that students need to buy (include costs)


Assemble the following items:
  • appropriate books for reading or reference
  • attendance materials
  • classroom art supplies
  • supplementary teaching materials
  • textbooks and accompanying materials


Set up your classroom by doing the following:
  • arrange the desks or tables to meet the needs of the students and your teaching style
  • arrange equipment
  • decide where to store supplies
  • decide where students will hand in assignments and pick up handouts
  • post your name and a class list outside your door
  • set up learning centres
  • assign space on bulletin boards for displaying announcements, a calendar, current events, materials relevant to each subjects, student ideas and student work


Carry out these final preparations:
  • review your lesson plan
  • review your behavior-management plan
  • review your schedule for the day
  • ensure that you have run off all necessary materials and that they are ready for distribution
  • prepare name tags or desk tags
  • prepare student supplies for distribution
  • check room arrangements

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On the First Day

Because it can set the tone for the remainder of the year, a well-planned first day is crucial. Here are some suggestions to help make the first day memorable and interesting:

Be organized and well-prepared.
Communicate with your class in a friendly, business-like manner.
Explain the morning routine.
Have students engage in some get-acquainted activities.
Learn students' names as quickly as possible so that you can personalize your teaching.
Establish classroom rules. Classroom management works well when you provide the framework for classroom behavior and then develop rules in collaboration with your students. Outlining expectations in a positive way is more effective than telling students what not to do.
Give students an overview of some exciting projects they will be doing.
Read aloud.
Create a birthday chart.
Assign new students a student "guide."

Survey students to find out their interests.


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Throughout the Year

An effective way of improving your teaching practice is to engage in self-reflection. Self-reflection is a process that involves (1) asking yourself why you made certain choices as opposed to others, (2) observing the results of your choices, (3) considering other alternatives and (4) asking yourself how you feel about your work and about yourself.

To get into the habit of self-reflection, consider keeping a journal. Write to yourself each day and look back occasionally. You'll feel good about how much you've grown. However, keep in mind that, under the provisions of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, your notes, memos, anecdotal comments and even private reflections could be considered school board records. Therefore, write with the knowledge that your words might be read or quoted by others.

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� The Alberta Teachers' Association
Page last modified 2001 11 14