Wednesday, April 27, 2016

101 Questions That All Teachers Should Ask About Their Jobs (Updated April 2016)

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As the school year is coming to a close for many teachers, the season of hiring, retiring, and reassigning is getting into full swing. Some of you may be undertaking a new position soon, and planning for a new school year in a new room with a new curriculum in a new school or district...well, that's a lot of news to cover!

Where is...? Who does...? When should...? How does...?
Inquiring teacher minds want to know!
This week, I'm updating a popular post from 2013 in which I listed 101 questions that all teachers should know about workplace policies, procedures, and other helpful information related to their employment expectations. If you're like me, you want to learn the ropes of a new position as soon as possible. The more I know, the more confidence I have, and I know that makes me better teacher to my students. For those of you who are facing new work places, spaces, and faces soon, I hope this post will be a time-saving and confidence-building resource for you as well. Even if you haven't secured a teaching position yet, these questions would also be useful for job interviews as well. As a bonus, you'll find a FREE printable version of these questions at the end of the post!

Original Post from July 2013

When I started my first teaching job, I had the opportunity to sit in on the class of the teacher whom I was replacing. When I walked out, I had literally 10 pages of notes and questions about the processes and procedures of the classroom and the school. This is definitely my personality when it comes to dealing with new and unfamiliar situations. I have to know as much as I can about how everything works so that I feel as comfortable and confident as possible (translation = possible control issues). The "newbie" stage is always awkward and full of anxiety for me, so the faster I can learn the ropes and get with the program, the better!

One of the best things about having your own classroom is that you are the expert. As the teacher, you figure out how you want things to work in your classroom. However, outside of your classroom, there are policies, procedures, and information that you need to know to help you function as an employee of a school and district--especially if you are a new teacher, have been reassigned, or have moved to a new job elsewhere. Teaching is unique in that there often isn't a training period like other jobs. You're hired, the year starts, and you hold on for dear life. Every school and district is different, so even student teaching or your previous teaching positions can only prepare you so much. Teaching is a lot of on-the-job training. You may not even know you have a question until a situation that requires an answer comes up.

Here are 101 questions to which teachers, as staff, should know the answers. I've divided them up into categories for easier reference. Maybe you've asked these, or maybe they've yet to come up. It's my hope that these are useful in many ways--asking them during a job interview, preparing for a new job or reassignment, or even just brushing up. 


LESSON PLANS

1. What is the lesson plan format?
2. How detailed should lesson plans be?
3.When are lesson plans due?
4. Who should get copies of lesson plans?
5. How should lesson plans be submitted?

CURRICULUM

6. On what standards is the curriculum based?
7. Is there a curriculum map in place?
8. Do I have to teach certain material at certain times of the year?
9. What flexibility do I have in creating curriculum?
10. What textbooks are used?
11. What supplemental materials are used?
12. Is there a contact person for curriculum questions?
13. Are we permitted to take students on field trips?
14. If so, what are the conditions of these field trips?
15. Is there a department or grade-level chairperson?
16. What opportunities are available for cross-curricular teaching?
17. What opportunities are available for team teaching?
18. Am I permitted to purchase supplemental materials such as weekly news magazines or class sets of books?
19. Are there departmental or grade level meetings?
20. How often are these meetings?

ASSESSMENTS

21. Are students assessed for grade-level benchmarks at specific times of the year?
22. If so, who creates these assessments?
23. What types of grade or school-wide assessments are given?
24. Which subjects or skills do these assessments cover?
25. When are the assessments?

GRADES

26. What is the grading scale?
27. Where and how are grades kept (a computer program, a grade book)?
28. How often do grades need to be updated?
29. What is the grade card schedule?

SCHEDULE

30. What daily hours am I required to be at school?
31. What does my daily and weekly schedule look like?
32. When are my prep periods?
34. Will I have an aide available to assist me?
35. During what time of the day will an aide be available to me?
36. When do students arrive in the morning?
37. When do students leave in the afternoon?
38. Is there a schedule of assemblies, parties, and other special events for the year?
39. What weekly or monthly meetings can I expect to have in my schedule?

DUTIES

40. Do I have additional duties?
41. How often are those duties?
42. What are my responsibilities?

PARENT COMMUNICATION

43. What school-sponsored parent communication goes out?
44. Are monthly class newsletters or the like required?
45. Is there a procedure for handling hostile parents?
46. Is there a standardized documentation form for all parent communication?
47. When are parent-teacher conferences?

ROOM DÉCOR

48. When am I allowed into the classroom to set it up?
49. What materials must be visible in my room?
50. Are there constraints about where posters and other materials may be hung or placed?
51. Are there materials or items that are not permitted in the classroom?
52. Do I need to supply paperwork for any materials or items I bring in for my classroom?

SUPPLIES

53. Is there money available for me to purchase supplies, or can I be reimbursed?
54. What is the procedure for purchase orders?
55. Are there common supplies that can be used by all teachers?
56. If so, where can I get those supplies?

TECHNOLOGY

57. How do I set up my e-mail?
58. How do I set up my voice mail?
59. How do I use the copier?
60. Are there student computers in my classroom?
61. Is there a school computer lab?
62. How do I schedule time in the lab for my class?
63. What other technology is available to me for instructional use?

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

64. What professional development does the district provide?
65. Does the district provide professional development days for me to attend seminars, conferences, etc.?
66. What is the process for getting approval for professional development course work?
67. Is there reimbursement for expenses? What can be reimbursed?
68. Is a mentor teacher available to me?
69. Who is my contact person for professional development questions?

SUBSTITUTES

70. How do I request a substitute?
71. What am I responsible for providing the substitute?
72. What is the district’s philosophy on having a substitute in the classroom?

SPECIAL EDUCATION AND SUPPORT SERVICES

73. What support services are available?
74. With whom will I work in respect to special education students?
75. What is the referral process for special education and additional support services?
76. What is the IEP process?

SPECIALS

77. In which specials will my class participate?
78. What are the procedures and policies I need to know about in those specials?

PERSONNEL AND STAFF PROCEDURES

79. What is the procedure for requesting time off?
80. Is there a call chain for delays, cancellations, and other important information?
81. What is the procedure for addressing a maintenance need?
82. What is the procedure for addressing a technology need?
83. Are there regular staff meetings?
84. Is there a staff contract with procedures, policies, etc. available to me?
85. Am I required to join the teachers' union if there is one?
86. What is the dress code for staff?
87. What are the procedures for emergency situations?
88. Where do I take my class during an emergency if we are not in our room?
89. Are there grant opportunities available to teachers?
90. How can I access my classroom during non-school hours and weekends?

SCHOOL PROCEDURES

91. What are arrival procedures for students when come into school?
92. What are dismissal procedures for students when they leave school?
93. What is the school- or district-wide discipline plan?
94. What are the procedures for students as they travel outside of the classroom and through the building?

TEACHER EVALUATIONS

95. What is the teacher evaluation process here?
96. Will I be observed in the classroom?
97. Who will observe me and how often?

STUDENT INFORMATION

98. Where are student files located?
99. How long should I keep my own student files?

COMMUNICATION WITH PRINCIPAL

100. What is the best way to contact my principal?
101. When is the best time to contact my principal?

Click on the image or here for a FREE printable version of these questions.


Are there other questions that you think teachers should know? Leave them in a comment below!


3 comments:

  1. Some of these questions are also good to ask at an interview. Thanks for providing such a comprehensive list!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Exactly! Glad you can use the info.

    Kristen

    ReplyDelete
  3. Nice set of questions. Thank you for linking up at Teaching Heart!

    ReplyDelete

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