Getting Started-A Checklist for Beginning Teachers

Prior to the First DayTop of page

Ask your principal about the school's policy and procedures regarding
  • computer programs for attendance, marks and so on,
  • class lists,
  • dismissal and signout,
  • enrolment and parent information forms,
  • field trips,
  • fire drills and other emergencies,
  • homework,
  • hospitality fund,
  • library resources for students and teachers,
  • opening day,
  • opening exercises,
  • paper and other supplies,
  • personal and student safety measures,
  • petty cash,
  • photocopies,
  • registration procedures,
  • schedules and timetables,
  • school arrival and dismissal times,
  • school assemblies,
  • school council,
  • school handbook,
  • school keys and security,
  • schoolwide rules,
  • staff meetings,
  • staff parking,
  • student behaviour expectations,
  • student evaluation,
  • student fees,
  • student supervision duties and
  • substitute teachers. 
Assign bulletin board areas for displaying
  • announcements,
  • bulletin board ideas created by students,
  • a calendar and current events,
  • different subjects, and
  • student work.

Prepare your classroom in these ways:

  • Arrange the classroom and prepare a seating plan.
  • Duplicate materials needed for the first few days.
  • Have a receipt book ready if money is to be collected.
  • Make a checklist for forms that need to be returned.
  • Make signs for the room.
  • Organize your daily plan book to include General and Specific Learner Expectations.
  • Plan a textbook distribution record.
  • Plan the first day in detail.
  • Prepare an outline for the first week.
  • Prepare a class list and post a copy.
  • Put your name outside the classroom door with a class list.
  • Set up learning centres.
  • Know the fire exit route.

Prepare your files by setting up folders for:

  • late and absent notes,
  • parent correspondence,
  • record keeping and student behaviour,
  • staff bulletins and memos,
  • substitute teachers,
  • student marks and grades,
  • emergency lessons, and
  • each unit that you will begin at school opening.
Get to know your students through the following activities:
  • Learn as many names as possible.
  • Find out which students are receiving special help.
  • Prepare an inventory to find out student interests.
  • Prepare tentative groupings for instruction.
  • Read each student’s cumulative record.
  • Review your provision for individual differences.
Prepare a package to send home on the first day that includes:
  • a welcoming newsletter,
  • forms required by the school,
  • a supply list and costs, and a list of what the school provides.
Assemble the following items:
  • Appropriate books for reading or reference use
  • Attendance materials
  • Classroom art supplies
  • Supplementary teaching materials
  • Textbooks and accompanying materials
Know your materials and how they support learner expectations by:
  • reviewing the program of studies and relevant curriculum guides and teacher manuals.
  • reviewing curriculum materials in the school library.
Rehearse your first lessons:
  • Be organized. 
  • Be overprepared. 
Set up your classroom:
  • Arrange the desks or tables to meet the needs of the students and your teaching style.
  • Arrange equipment.
  • Decide where to store supplies.
  • Find a place for students to hand in assignments and pick up handouts.
Complete pre-employment paperwork:
  • Sign forms for health benefits and Alberta Teachers’ Retirement Fund.
  • Sign contract of employment.
  • Apply for a statement of teacher qualifications.
  • Obtain your interim teaching certificate or letter of authority prior to commencing work, otherwise the collective agreement does not apply to you, nor are you a member of the ATA.

On the First DayTop of page

A well-planned first day is crucial—it can set the tone for the remainder of the year. Plan for a memorable and interesting day. Learn students’ names as quickly as possible in order to personalize your teaching.

On your first day of teaching, you should begin in a friendly, business-like manner. Classroom management works well when you, the teacher, provide the framework for classroom behaviour and then establish rules cooperatively with the students. Communicate your classroom rules to the students. Expectations worded in a positive way have greater effect than a list of things not to do.

  • Make final preparations before the first day:
  • Review your lesson plan.
  • Review your behaviour management plan.
  • Review your schedule for the day.
  • Run off all materials you need; have them ready for distribution.
  • Prepare name tags or desk tags.
  • Prepare student supplies for distribution.
  • Check the room arrangement.
  • Post your name and room number.
Make your first day a meaningful one for you and your students by being organized, prepared and welcoming. One of the most powerful tools you have for learning is self-reflection. This means examining what you do and asking yourself why you make certain choices over others, what you observe the results to be and what else you might do. It means asking yourself how you’re feeling about your work and yourself.

You might reinforce this self-reflection by starting a daily journal that you occasionally reread. You’ll feel good about how much you’ve grown. Keep in mind that teachers’ notes, memos, anecdotal comments and even private reflections can be considered records in the control and custody of the school jurisdiction under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA). As a precaution, write as though the information might be accessed or quoted in other documents.