First Year Teachers Start Here

by Dawn Gernhardt, 3/13/2013

As teacher candidates, many of us are already thinking about grants for education and technology for our future classrooms and our schools. Veteran and first-year teachers are often balancing many priorities. During a conversation with Dr. Katherine Hayden, Interim Director, CSU San Marcos School of Education, College of Education, Health and Human Services—who has not only reviewed and approved grants but she’s also written numerous school, district, and college-level grants for hundreds to millions of dollars’ worth of funding—she mentioned several ways to help first-year teachers focus their energy in their pursuit of improving learning for our students.

After you’re hired at a school, start with your school and district. Here are some steps to follow.

1.       Inventory what’s in your classroom

2.       Explore what’s in your school

a.       For example, are their digital cameras, digital probes, do other teachers of other subjects have technology in their classrooms, could you collaborate with them?

b.      What access do students already have to technology, or where they could get access?

                                                           i.      Consider equitable access for all

3.       Find out what the “Tech Plans” are at your school. What are the school’s technology goals? What are they targeting for technology over time?  

a.       All schools must have tech plans that list technology goals for infrastructure and technology. Funds come through E-rate based on the number of students in need.

4.       Create a wish list with documentation

a.       Documentation should include your own pilot or research and rationale into your dream for making education better for students. For example, I borrowed 20 laptops/ipads/ipod touches from the science lab. I had 20 students work with them for completing assignments for 5 weeks. The students found 50 applications. We used ten of those applications for the 5 weeks and found that these two are the best for completing the steps in the writing process. We’d like to have a classroom set of 40 laptops/ipads/ipod touches for this reason.

5.       Share your wish list with your principal.

a.       Funds come and go in a flash. If you communicate your wish list with your principal, they are more likely to help you fund your dreams when the money comes in.

Most of your funds, at first, can likely come from your school, district, PTA, and fundraising.