Teaching: The First Weeks and Beyond
During the first few weeks of school, it is important for every new teacher, or even an experienced teacher new to a building, to learn about that school.
The following check-list of questions will help you, whether you ask them of a mentor teacher, an administrator, or simply another member of the school staff who may be in the know. We encourage you to print this check-list, ask the questions, and keep the answers close at hand for future reference.
Questions every first year teacher should ask before the first weeks of school:
Materials and Learning Tools
- Where and how do I get supplies?
- How do I check out textbooks?
- How do I sign my class up for the library?
- What's the procedure for computer use?
- Where is the computer usage policy form?
- What machines are available for me to use-copier, computer, VCR, DVD, laminator, etc.?
- What is the school policy for using supplemental materials? Can I bring in books, articles, etc.?
Procedures and Routines
- What are the procedures for taking a class to an assembly?
- When am I responsible for locking my room?
- How do I make arrangements for a field trip?
- What are the attendance accounting procedures for students, and what are my responsibilities in attendance record keeping?
- Is there a formal or informal dress code for teachers?
- What are the emergency procedures for the school?
- What is the rule regarding guests in the building?
- What should I do if I must leave my room during class?
- What should I do in case of a medical emergency in my classroom?
- Whom do I call to let the school know I am sick?
- What is the school's policy regarding substitutes?
- How do I apply for personal, professional, vacation, or sick leave?
- Is there a policy for use of e-mail, computers, Internet? What is allowed and prohibited? Is there a form I need to sign? (If so, read the form carefully so you know exactly what you can and cannot do.)
Teaching, Grading, and Learning
- What are the grading guidelines for the school system? What documentation must I provide?
- What are the timelines and procedures for report cards?
- What curricular and other support is available to back me up with special needs students?
- To whom do I report serious problems with a student's health or behavior?
- What student records must I maintain in cumulative folders?
- Is there a school sponsored "homework hotline” or other formal communication tool between parents and teachers?
- What procedures do other teachers in my school follow for contacting parents by letter or phone?
- How often am I evaluated? Is there advance notice of performance evaluations?
- Where can I get a copy of my master agreement? (Also known as your contract or collective bargaining agreement. You need to READ your contract carefully!)
- How do I handle a fight between students?
- How do I report a disciplinary problem?
- What is my personnel file and what is in it? (Read your contract concerning your personnel file.)
- Where do I go if I am having trouble?
- Who is my local union president?
- Who is my union building representative? Have I met this person?