For Help Desk

Fellows Meeting 1: Classroom Management, Class Discussions

Fellows and New Teachers Wiki (Includes Curriculum)


What should I do when I arrive on campus?
Many of us will be away in July, so the best thing to do when you arrive is to head to the Main Office and see who is on hand to help you settle in. Ask your neighbors too; buttonhole anyone you come across on campus. We are a friendly bunch and want to help you with anything you need to know. If you know when you will be arriving, just let me or Liz Thornton know (see below), and we will make arrangements for someone to welcome you.

Essential resources will be Bicente DeLeon, who maintains our campus, and Sandy Bartholome, our Business Manager. I've asked Bicente to put a "campus set" of keys in your mailbox; he can also answer questions about your housing. Sandy is your main point person for “human resources” issues and, most importantly, for your paycheck. You are most likely to find someone in the Office during usual daytime business hours.

How do I order/track books?
Although it may not necessarily be the first thing that you should think about when designing your classes, selecting and ordering books is probably a high priority for you in July. This year, 2010-2011, due to budget constraints, we have been asked to continue a moratorium on book ordering. Thus, you should make use of books we already have on hand, if possible, and order replacement copies only when necessary.

Each teacher is responsible for inventorying and ordering the books and materials needed for his or her classes. If you can place orders for replacement copies in July, you should be in decent shape for the beginning of school on August 16th. Copies of books we have in inventory are in various classrooms and closets around the campus, usually in the classroom where the book was last taught. You may need to look several places. If you are out of town and you need us to check inventory for you, let me know. Also, if you need help with ordering, let me know. If you wish to choose different books for your courses, please check the inventory of books that we already have copies of on hand.

All orders for replacement copies, teacher's editions, and other classroom materials, should be made by the individual teacher. Teachers have pre-approval to buy items to start the year -- up to $200 for full-time teachers and $100 for part-time teachers (including Fellows). See my general email to the faculty for further information on books and materials.

From a curricular perspective, I'm happy to recommend and discuss with you any materials or resources you need for your classes.

Whenever you are ordering books, please consider the most economical alternative that serves your needs. You can often request review or desk copies from publishers – but be sure that you check the terms because some must be returned or you will be charged for them. Teachers often order used copies of books on their own and submit receipts for reimbursement. and are good resources for this. We also have accounts with many major publishers. Check with Sandy ( ) if you have any questions. I have also set up an account with Prestwick House, where many English/Language Arts books can be purchased at good prices. We have a corporate account with Amazon as well, which works for used or new books. See Sandy if you need to be added to that account.

Generally speaking, we charge students only for workbooks that cannot be used again or lost books or books returned in unusable condition. Most books are expected to be used multiple years, and students are not charged for them. It is the teacher’s responsibility to keep track of the books for his or her class and to notify Sandy of any charges for replacement copies that need to be made to students' tuition.

We may be able to order additional books with "wishlist" funds from the fundraiser in February. This is often true for English/LA books. Thus, new book choices for the spring or for the following year may be funded in this way. Also, feel free to research grants and other resources for books.

Books can be shipped to Chinquapin’s main address. Boxes are usually stacked in the library as they start to accumulate throughout the summer. When you ascertain that the correct number of books have been shipped, you should okay the packing slip with your signature and put it in Sandy’s box.

How many students are in each class or grade?
6th: 20-21 students
7th: 28-30 students (all classes are split into two sections)
8th: 28-30 students (all classes are split into two sections)
9th: 28 (all classes are split into two sections)
10th: 23 (Math and Spanish are split by placement – query about numbers)
11th: 20 students (Math and Spanish are split by placement – query about numbers)
12th: 22 students (only Math is split by placement – query about numbers)

Expect to need a couple of extra copies for any students who might be admitted during the summer or for students who lose their books during the year.

What about purchasing materials or supplies for my classroom?
Once you know your classroom assignment, you should check it out to see what is already on hand. Check with Bicente for furniture in the storage area. We have many basic supplies in the Office as well.

These orders are subject to the same economic considerations and review as are your book orders (see above). Check with Sandy regarding prices at Staples online, with whom we have an account, for general office/teaching supplies; deliveries are usually received the next day. Be sure that you get tax exempt numbers/forms from Sandy for your purchases -- the school does not reimburse for taxes paid. Give any receipts to Sandy for reimbursement; don't forget to put your name on them!

If you have some needs for bigger ticket items, consult with Susan; consider putting them on your Wishlist for submitting to our donors at our annual fundraiser.

How should I begin designing my courses?
The best place to start is to consider the “essential questions” for each of your classes. What are the key concepts or skills that you think your students should grasp by the end of the year or semester? What do you really want them to remember or retain in future years as they continue their education and their lives?

The concept of “essential questions” is one of the basic tenets of the backwards design process, which is gaining a huge following in education circles these days. For more information, see //Principles of Backward Design.//

Another key idea to consider is Bloom's Taxonomy of cognitive thinking levels. A revised version of this classic, one that also focuses on 21st century learning, can be found at

Some other good resources for beginning teachers include: “What to Expect of Your First Year of Teaching,”, and MiddleWeb's “The First Days of Middle School,” .

Next, consult any information about your course that may be available at our curriculum wiki: . Additional materials may be available for you to review on our faculty folder on the shared network drive. These are in a folder labeled “Course Materials” and are further sub-divided by the teacher who taught the course previously.

Begin organizing your course into units of study based on your essential questions. Your syllabus can be developed from there. I recommend starting with an outline of the course by quarter and then breaking it down by weeks. You will probably not want to create a detailed or daily syllabus for more than the first few weeks – this will allow you to get a sense of your students and the daily rhythms of Chinquapin life. For more information on designing a syllabus, see “Syllabus: Organize Your Teaching" and adjust to the appropriate grade level. In addition, I recommend browsing Edutopia for ideas about any aspect of teaching you wish to explore.

What should I have prepared prior to the Fellows Training, New Teacher Orientation, and opening faculty meetings?
I will be back in the Office on August 2 -- and Liz is planning a welcoming cookout for the Fellows (other new teachers welcome too!) for that evening. Liz and I are finalizing the Fellows Training, which will be held August 3-5. New Faculty Orientation, for Fellows and other new teachers, will be held on Friday, August 6. More details later. I encourage you all to begin working on at least an outline of your sylllabus or overview of your classes prior to that first week of August. We will be workshopping those course plans during the Fellows Training (other new teachers welcome), and I will be scheduling meetings with each of you individually for August 6th to discuss your course designs and materials.

Here are some things you may wish to include: course goals, book selections, classroom policies, schedule. If you want to see copies of mine, for the sake of reference, let me know. (Keep in mind, mine are being revised constantly!)

Faculty Meetings begin with a retreat at my house on August 9th. You'll receive an agenda/schedule later in the summer.

What should I do when I'm feeling overwhelmed, need support, or just want to share my ideas and excitement?

In the next week, I will be creating an online community for the Fellows Program in NIng. Look for an invitation to join to arrive in your email. I hope that this will be a place for us to share what's on our minds, talk about what is happening in our classes, and explore new ideas about teaching. This online community will continue throughout the year, and if we make the most of it, should provide a place to look for and give the support that we all need as we work with students.

Meanwhile, I have created a Chinquapin Fellows page on the curriculum wiki. I'll post a copy of these FAQs there. Feel free to consider it an ad hoc "help desk" and to add resources or topics of discussion as they present themselves to you.

I am starting to collect some resources for you in Diigo. (Only one articles so far, but this will grow!) You'll be invited into the Chinquapin Fellows group I've created there. Most of these resources will be used later -- so don't feel as if you have to read them all as they appear! I just want to give you access to them and invite you to contribute as well. When you feel so moved, I hope you will comment and stir up some conversation.

How can I access my Chinquapin email and other technology resources?
Francisco Perez will set you up with access to our shared network folders and provide access to the school website during the New Teacher Orientation on August 6th.

If you are interested in developing your course in our “distance learning” resource, Moodle, prior to the start of school, let me know your needs and I can create courses for you to play with.

The school's online calendar is accessible when you sign in to your Chinquapin email. Be sure to highlight the calendars on the left of the page to access what you need. More details on using the school calendar will be part of the New Teacher Orientation on August 6th.