Although I don't think I'll ever feel like a master teacher, I have taught middle and high school science (grades 6 - 9) for 8 years in two states. Most recently I spent a year as a math and science instructional coach working with new math and science teachers. There are a lot of aspects of teaching that are learned best through experience, however many systems and approaches can be shared and can save new science teachers a lot of trouble. I hope to share these systems as I walk through important steps throughout the year.
Hopefully you know what grade level you are teaching and specifically what topics you will be covering. If you are in a public school or your school has students take state tests, your content is essentially provided for you. The calm before the storm of school starting can be overwhelming and difficult to know where to start.
Here are some initial ways I get organized:
- Buy a lesson planning book or use an online calendar that will carry you through an academic year with both a macro and micro viewpoint.
- Access your school's academic calendar and mark holidays, testing days, and other important school events.
- Access the science state standards or other standards that your school uses for curriculum.
- Access practice or old state tests (or other end of year assessments) for your grade level and content area. If your grade level isn't tested, but something is tested a year or two later, access that one so you can work backwards.
- Familiarize myself with how to order science materials so I can have materials ready before the first day of school.
Yearly Curriculum Template
You may need to collaborate with others and share your yearly overview. Here is a template I use when working with teachers to map out the year. Send me a message on Facebook or Twitter (@MsBrownTeacher) if you'd like me to email you a downloadable excel version of the template!
Don't Forget Target!
One thing I always do around now (early August) is stop in to a Target, Walmart or any other big school supplier store and take advantage of their ridiculously good back-to-school prices. I stock up on markers, tape, scissors, colored pencils, pencil sharpeners (especially the quiet, individual ones!), folders, lined paper and composition books. I buy 20 or so folders and composition books for students who cannot afford them or will not be able to get one soon after the year begins. Some may argue that I enable them, but I find comfort in knowing I can start ALL students in their composition books by the second week of school!
Other Great Resources
The following books have been go-to resources for me as a teacher and coach and I would highly recommend looking through them before your school year begins:
- Teach Like A Champion by Doug Lamott
- All of NSTA's Uncovering Student Ideas in Science books
- Maia Heyck-Merlin's The Together Teacher
- NSTA membership and a subscription to the elementary, middle or high school science teacher journal
Stay tuned! Next I'll walk you through how to plan your yearly curriculum map!
In the meantime, please add your ideas or anxieties to the comment section.
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