Countdown to Your First Year: What Are Students Supposed to Learn?

New Teacher Survival Guide

I know it’s both exciting and terrifying to think about being in charge of an entire group of children soon. On top of that, you’re also responsible for their learning! But the best way to combat the anxiety is to get prepared. Start by figuring out exactly what your students will learn next year. Don’t worry about long-term planning quite yet, just look at this as an exploration into the content of your grade level. Act as an observer before figuring out exactly what you’ll teach.

To get started, follow these 5 tips:

1. Review Curricular Materials: Browse all the curricular materials provided by your school or district. Don’t get stressed thinking that you’ll have to do everything that’s covered in them. Just browse and soak in the kinds of things that students in your grade level or subject might be working on.

2. Check Out Standards: Read up on the Common Core State Standards, the Next Generation Science Standards, and/or your state’s content standards. Also, check out Tch‘s Let’s Chat Core series as an introduction to the Common Core. As you read, note which standards seem to fit together. For example, you might see connections between reading and writing standards, or math content standards and math practice standards.

3. Browse Teaching Channel Videos: Use the filters on the left side of the Teaching Channel videos page to home in on and explore videos of your grade level/subject area. Just watching several teachers teach your grade level/subject’s content will give you a sense of what students are supposed to learn. Watch the students in the videos to get clues about your future students’ abilities, challenges, and maturity.

4. Explore Scope and Sequences: Scope and sequences lay out both the content that you will teach and the order in which you will teach it. Looking at existing scope and sequences lets you see how other teachers have planned out their years. You can create your own scope and sequences later (we’ll get into long-term planning in my next blog post), but begin by taking a look at the ELA, math, and social studies materials available from DC Public Schools, and the math scope and sequences from Agile Mind.

5. Connect With Other Teachers: Did you student teach with any teachers of your grade level/subject? Is your great aunt Mary a long-term teacher of your grade/subject? Reach out to experienced teachers and chat about what you can expect to teach (and maybe ask to copy helpful materials too!). Twitter can also be a great place to connect with other educators. Check out these 15 popular ed chats curated by the International Society for Technology in Education. The chats cover a variety of subjects, grade levels, and topics (including new teachers).

How are you learning about your grade level/subject? Share ideas, suggestions, or questions below!

Lily Jones taught K/1 for seven years in Northern California. She has experience as a curriculum developer, instructional coach, teacher trainer, and is also a contributing writer for Teaching Channel.

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