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The First-Year Teacher's Checklist: A Quick Reference for Classroom Success

Julia G. Thompson

ISBN: 978-0-470-39004-7 April 2009 Jossey-Bass 224 Pages


This easy-to-use reference—with hundreds of helpful, classroom-tested answers, ideas, techniques, and teaching tools—will help you on your way to a successful and productive school year. Designed to be flexible, the book offers a choice of ideas and approaches that best fit your classroom situation. Master teacher Julia Thompson shows you how to:
  • Develop successful relationships with students, colleagues, administrators, and parents
  • Manage professional responsibilities and develop career skills
  • Create an orderly classroom where students are courteous and respectful
  • Motivate students to become independent learners
  • Use proven strategies to prevent misbehavior
  • Design instruction that will appeal to every student
  • Set up a classroom for maximum comfort and learning
  • Thrive in the world of high-stakes testing

About This Book xvii

About the Author xviii

Acknowledgments xix

Introduction 1


Chapter 1 Professional Development Begins with You 7

List 1-1: Be Guided by the Principles of Professionalism 8

List 1-2: What Is Expected of You 9

List 1-3: How to Take Charge of Your Career 10

List 1-4: Set Professional Goals with These Easy Steps 11

List 1-5: Develop a Professional Demeanor 12

List 1-6: Master These Important Workplace Skills 13

List 1-7: Manage Your Time Wisely with These Strategies 14

List 1-8: How to Use Best Practices in Your Classroom 15

List 1-9: Strategies to Help You Prepare for Evaluations 16

List 1-10: Learn to Weather Career Ups and Downs 17

List 1-11: How to Build Your Confidence 18

List 1-12: Reflection: The Key to Becoming a Successful Educator 19

Chapter 2 Learn to Work with Other Educators 21

List 2-1: Schools Require Teamwork 22

List 2-2: Tips on Cultivating Professional Relationships 23

List 2-3: How to Fit In at School 24

List 2-4: Successful On-the-Job Communication Skills 25

List 2-5: Professional Courtesy 26

List 2-6: Suggestions for Working Well with Your Supervisors 27

List 2-7: Guidelines to Help You Develop Productive Relationships with Mentors  28

List 2-8: Work in Partnership with Substitute Teachers 29

List 2-9: How to Deal with the Demands of Your Colleagues 30

List 2-10: Dealing with Difficult Colleagues 31

List 2-11: Join Other Educators in Online Learning Communities 32

Chapter 3 Create a Link Between Home and School 33

List 3-1: Benefits of a Positive Relationship with Parents or Guardians 34

List 3-2: Questions You Should Ask Your Students’ Parents 35

List 3-3: What Parents Expect of  Their Child’s Teacher 36

List 3-4: Tips on Establishing Productive School-Home Relationships 37

List 3-5: How to Make Constructive Home Contacts 38

List 3-6: Strategies for Managing Formal Parent Conferences Successfully 39

List 3-7: How to Handle Conf licts with Parents or Guardians 40

List 3-8: Courteous Interactions with Non-Nuclear Families 41

List 3-9: How to Manage Student Information 42


Chapter 4 Make Your Classroom a Productive Learning Environment 45

List 4-1: The Essentials of a Productive Learning Environment 46

List 4-2: The First Step: Evaluate the Room 47

List 4-3: Create a Safe Classroom 48

List 4-4: Arrange Your Classroom for Learning 49

List 4-5: Create Effective Seating Arrangements 50

List 4-6: How to Organize Your Own Work Area 51

List 4-7: Make Your Classroom Greener by Using Paper Wisely 52

List 4-8: Basic Teaching Supplies and Professional Documents You’ll Need 53

List 4-9: Create a Student-Centered Environment 54

List 4-10: Inexpensive Bulletin Board Materials 55

List 4-11: Don’t Just Decorate, Instruct! 56

List 4-12: Display Student Work 57

Chapter 5 Forge Positive Relationships with Students 59

List 5-1: Characteristics of an Appropriate Teacher-Student Relationship 60

List 5-2: What Students Expect of You 61

List 5-3: The Greatest Gift: High Expectations 62

List 5-4: Tips to Help You Gather Information About Your Students 63

List 5-5: Respect Your Students’ Dignity 64

List 5-6: Strategies to Help Students Who Are Reluctant Learners 65

List 5-7: Strategies to Help Students with Special Needs 66

List 5-8: Strategies to Help Students with Attention Disorders 67

List 5-9: Teach Good Citizenship 68

List 5-10: Strategies to Make Every Child Feel Valuable 69

Chapter 6 Create Opportunities for Student Success 71

List 6-1: The Principles of Motivation 72

List 6-2: Positive Teacher Attitudes That Create Student Success 73

List 6-3: Questions to Help You Provide Opportunities for Success 74

List 6-4: Questions to Help You Provide Opportunities for Enjoyment 75

List 6-5: Questions to Help You Provide Opportunities for Students to Feel a Sense of Belonging 76

List 6-6: Quick and Easy Motivation Strategies 77

List 6-7: Suggestions on Using Rewards and Praise Effectively 78

List 6-8: Appealing Tangible Rewards 79

List 6-9: How to Encourage Your Students 80

List 6-10: Suggestions for Incorporating Intrinsic Motivation in Instruction 81

Chapter 7 Take a Proactive Stance to Prevent Misbehavior 83

List 7-1: Be Prepared: Know Why Students Misbehave 84

List 7-2: Prevent Misbehavior with These Common sense Strategies 85

List 7-3: Avoid These Discipline Mistakes 86

List 7-4: Support Student Self-Management 87

List 7-5: Make Things Run Smoothly with Classroom Procedures 88

List 7-6: Enforce Your School’s Code of Conduct 90

List 7-7: Create and Teach Classroom Rules 91

List 7-8: Strategies to Help You Enforce Classroom Rules 92

List 7-9: Strategies to Help You Monitor Student Behavior 93

List 7-10: How to Redirect Students Who Are Off Task 94

List 7-11: Strategies to Prevent Cheating 95

List 7-12: Strategies for Creating Successful Seating Charts 96

List 7-13: Help Students Make Successful Transitions 97

List 7-14: How to Have Fun with Your Students 98

Chapter 8 Minimize Disruptions Caused by Misbehavior 99

List 8-1: Sound Discipline Principles 100

List 8-2: Misbehaviors You Should Handle Yourself 101

List 8-3: Don’t Punish; Solve the Problem Instead 102

List 8-4: General Strategies to Minimize Disruptions 103

List 8-5: Be Alert to the Potential for Violence 104

List 8-6: How to Respond When Students Fight 105

List 8-7: How to Refer Students to an Administrator 106

List 8-8: Control Your Reactions When Students Misbehave 107

List 8-9: Questions to Ask Yourself When Students Misbehave 108


Chapter 9 Plan Effective Instruction 111

List 9-1: Your Goal: An Active Learning Community 112

List 9-2: Steps in Planning Instruction 113

List 9-3: How to Create Unit Plans 114

List 9-4: How to Create Daily Plans 115

List 9-5: How to Assess Your Students’ Prior Knowledge 116

List 9-6: Adapt Instruction to Meet the Needs of All Learners 117

List 9-7: Create Enduring Understanding with Essential Questions 118

List 9-8: Include Activities That Will Appeal to Your  Students 119

List 9-9: Use Resources That Take Students Beyond the Text 121

List 9-10: How to Plan for Nontraditional Schedules 122

List 9-11: How to Create Backup Plans 123

List 9-12: How to Adapt Lessons for Less- Proficient Learners 124

Chapter 10 Deliver Effective Instruction 125

List 10-1: Your Enthusiasm Creates Students’ Success 126

List 10-2: Strategies to Help Make Instruction Relevant 127

List 10-3: How to Build Background Knowledge 128

List 10-4: Incorporate High-Level Thinking Skills 129

List 10-5: Gear Your Instruction to Students’ Preferred Learning Styles 130

List 10-6: Suggestions on How to Use Technology for Instruction 131

List 10-7: Tips on Making Effective Electronic Presentations 132

List 10-8: Tips on Making Interesting Presentations 133

List 10-9: How to Make Your Handouts Appealing 134

List 10-10: How to Prepare for Traditional Field Trips 135

List 10-11: Virtual Field Trips 136

List 10-12: Tips on Making Homework a Success 138

List 10-13: Tips on Using Collaborative Activities in Class 139

List 10-14: How to Help Groups Control Their Noise Levels 141

List 10-15: Strategies for Using Games to Help Students Learn 142

List 10-16: Ask Questions the Right Way 143

List 10-17: Strategies to Focus Attention at the Start of Class 144

List 10-18: Use the End of Class to Reinforce Learning 145

List 10-19: Strategies for Increasing Students’ Retention Through Review 146

List 10-20: Promote Academic Success by Teaching Study Skills 147

List 10-21: Create Helpful Study Guides 148

Chapter 11 Assess Your Students’ Progress 149

List 11-1: Types and Purposes of Assessments 150

List 11-2: Alternative Assessments 151

List 11-3: How to Manage Portfolios 152

List 11-4: How to Create Beneficial Tests 153

List 11-5: Traditional Question Types 154

List 11-6: The Versatile Multiple-Choice Question 155

List 11-7: What to Do If Many Students Fail a Test 156

List 11-8: Constant Informal Assessment 157

List 11-9: How to Give Constructive Feedback 158

List 11-10: Strategies for Student Success on Standardized Tests 159

List 11-11: Attitudes That Will Help You Keep Testing in Perspective 160

List 11-12: Keeping Up with Grading Paperwork 161


Chapter 12 Twenty-First Century Issues for All Teachers 165

List 12-1: Education of Students Who Are Not Native Speakers of English 166

List 12-2: Growing Concern over Literacy 167

List 12-3: The No Child Left Behind Act 168

List 12-4: Project-Based Learning 169

List 12-5: Laptops for All 170

List 12-6: The Internet as a Teaching Resource 171

List 12-7: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences 173

List 12-8: The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards 174

List 12-9: The Theory of Constructivism 175

List 12-10: Proliferation of Gangs 176

List 12-11: Response to Intervention: Early Identification and Assistance for Students with Learning Difficulties 177


Chapter 13 Resources to Help You Become a Better Teacher 181

List 13-1: Professional Organizations for Teachers 182

List 13-2: Resources on Classroom Management and Discipline 183

List 13-3: Resources to Help with Teaching, Instruction, and Lesson Planning 184

List 13-4: Resources on Assessment 187

List 13-5: Resources to Help with Time Management, Organization, and Workplace Skills 188

List 13-6: Resources to Help You Work Well with Others 189

List 13-7: Resources for Classroom Arrangement and Decoration 190

Chapter 14 Resources to Help You Work with Students 191

List 14-1: Resources to Help You Connect with Your Students 192

List 14-2: Resources on Helping Students with Special Needs 193

List 14-3: Resources on Improving Student Literacy 195

Index 197


"Thompson's work helps beginning teachers?even those with no prior teaching experience?to understand the basics of effective teaching. The First Year Teacher's Checklist makes it easy for educators who are just starting out to understand what it will take to become a successful teacher. I will definitely make this book required reading for my teacher interns."
?Bill Snead, director of Alternative Certification Programs, Harris County Department of Education, Houston, Texas

"A must-have resource for new teachers and interns. Easy to read, discuss, and implement, it will improve your instruction along with helping you manage your to-do lists, your classrooms, and all of the new tasks and items involved with your first year of teaching. Keep it handy!"
?Mike Rogers, president,, a PEAK Learning Systems Company

"New teachers and those who support their success will thrive on Julia's succinct delineation of the daily business of teaching."
?Layne Ferguson, teacher development specialist, Department of Teacher Leadership and Professional Development, Prince George's County Public Schools, Maryland

Strong track record: Builds on the success of two best-selling books: The First-Year Teacher’s Survival Guide for content (over 92,000 copies sold in two editions) and The ADHD Checklist for format (45K+ copies sold).

Huge market: More than 3.9 million new teachers will be needed in U.S. schools by 2014 due to teacher retirement, attrition, and recent increases in student enrollment (source: Nat’l Educ Assoc).

Packed with value: Gives new teachers a wealth of information, tips, and resources to prepare them for the classroom and help them become effective educators. Two-color internal design makes for attractive packaging and easy-to-navigate material.

Quick, easy reference at an affordable price: For the many teachers who are intimidated by or too busy to read larger references like The First-Year Teacher’s Survival Guide or Wong's The First Days of School, this slim, accessible book will offer fast, reliable information at a low price.