See Me After Class: Discussion Questions for First-Year Teachers

Discussion and Reflection Questions for First-Year Teachers
See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers by Teachers
By Roxanna Elden

General Questions

  • The author mentions teacher movies several times in her book. In what ways does she seem think these movies are helpful to real-life teachers? In what ways does she suggest they hurt? Do you agree?
  • Which chapter did you find the most helpful? Why?
  • Which chapters would you recommend to someone who hasn’t started teaching yet? Which are more helpful after a few months in the classroom? Explain.

Chapter-by-chapter questions:

  1. What this Book is… and is Not
    In the first chapter of the book, the author addresses the three types of books on the market for new teachers: Professional development, inspirational stories, and general guidebooks. What does she say are the weaknesses of each type of book? Do you agree?
  1. Ten Things You Will Wish Someone Had Told You
    Which of the advice in this chapter had you heard before you started teaching? Which lessons have you had to learn on the job? Do you agree with this advice?
  1. First Daze
    In this chapter, the author lists and answers frequently asked questions about the first day of school. What were you most worried about as you approached your first day as a teacher? Were you worried about the right things?
  1. Maintaining and Regaining Your Sanity, One Month at a Time
    Chapter four charts the morale of teachers at different points in the school year. Do you find that your own morale followed this pattern? Explain.
  1. Piles and Files: Organization and Time Management
    In this chapter the author talks about her own struggles with organization, and shares the filing systems she eventually developed to deal with the inflow of paperwork. Did you have a system for staying organized at the beginning of this year? Has that system held up over the course of the year? If so, what suggestions can you offer others? If not, what changes might you make in time for next year?
  1. Your Teacher Personality: Faking it. Making it
    This chapter suggests building a teacher personality that rests on personal strengths and works around weaknesses. What personal strengths have helped you as a teacher? In which areas do you think you need the most work? In what ways can you (or do you) use your personal strengths to work around weak areas?
  1. Classroom Management: Easier Said Than Done
    In this chapter, the author details potential pitfalls in management principles like consistency and positive reinforcement. Have you had any experiences in which common management wisdom fell short? How did you deal with these situations and what did you learn from them?
  1. Procedures that (Probably) Prevent Problems
    Chapter eight suggests that readers “beg, borrow, and steal” classroom procedures from other teachers, “… then adapt” those procedures to their own classroom. Have you ever tailored another teacher’s ideas to fit your own classroom? What procedures have you observed in the classrooms of other teachers that might work in your own classroom? What details will you change to make the ideas work considering your personality, age group, and subject area?
  1. The Due Date Blues: When High Expectations Meet Low Motivation
    Here the author talks about the heartache of watching students miss major assignments. Has this happened to you this year? How did you handle it? What do you plan to in the future to encourage student responsibility?
  1. No Child Left… Yeah, Yeah, You Know
    In chapter 10, the author discusses difficulties with individual students. She also says that many teachers have a specific type of student in mind when they choose their career, and are sometimes more effective with their favorite type of student. Which students were easiest for you to connect with this year? Which were the most difficult? What can you do to connect better with these students in the future?
  1. Parents: The Other Responsible Adult
    Chapter eleven includes many stories involving difficult parents, but the tone of the last two stories is different. Why do you think these stories were included? What helpful advice have you heard about dealing with parents?
  1. The Teachers’ Lounge: Making it Work with the People You Work With
    Chapter twelve describes difficult types of coworkers, including those who are overly negative, but also those who are positive to the point of bragging. Is there such thing as too much positivity? What do you believe is the proper balance between positive and negative when teachers talk about work?
  1. Please Report to the Principal’s Office
    Chapter thirteen discusses actions by administrators that make teachers’ jobs harder. How can teachers work with or around administrators who do these things?
  1. Stressin’ About Lessons
    Here, the author discusses reasons that seemingly well-planned lessons go wrong. Has this ever happened to you? How did you handle it? What activities might you use if left with extra class time after a lesson?
  1. Observation Information
    There are two schools of thought about dealing with observations: “Always teach like you are going to be observed,” and “the dog and pony show.” What are some potential pitfalls of each of these ways of thinking? At your school, are you expected to stay ready for company, or prepare your best sample of teaching for scheduled observations?
  1. Testing, Testing
    Chapter sixteen deals with the unintended consequences of high-stakes testing. Which of the consequences mentioned in this chapter have you experienced? How can teachers balance creativity and hands-on learning with the increasing demand for test preparation?
  1. Grading Work Without Hating Work
    Which of the grading tips in this chapter were helpful? What other strategies do you use to keep up with grading? What strategies do you plan to use in the future?
  1. Moments We’re Not Proud Of
    In chapter eighteen, teachers share their low-points. Which of these stories did you find most memorable? Were there any stories that other teachers shared this year that you found especially helpful?
  1. Dos and Don’ts for Helping New Teachers In Your School
    In this chapter, the author comes down hard on teachers who say things like, “That would never happen in my class.” What do you believe are the qualities of a good mentor teacher? Who do you turn to for teaching advice and why?
  1. Making Next Year Better
    What are the main lessons you will take away from this book? How do you think you might have reacted differently to the book if you read it before, rather than after, your first year as a teacher?

© Roxanna Elden

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