So you have taken the time to get to know the key people at your site (principal, grade level/department colleagues, custodial and office staff) now you need to get familiar with the curriculum. You may have already researched the standards your school/district is using but you will need to go a little deeper. Caution—as much as you may want to pin every lesson on Pinterest find out the following information so you don’t develop a lot of materials that you may not be allowed to use.
Talk to your grade level colleagues and ask them what are the adopted curriculums.
Most districts are going through a transition into the National Common Core standards so even if there is an adopted program you may not be so tied to it like you would have been in the past. Find out how much of the adopted curriculum are you mandated to use and how much can you replace or support with your own materials.
If there is an adopted curriculum that you are tied to go straight to the teacher’s manuals, especially if you don’t have a lot of time before school starts. Don’t worry about going through the boxes of teacher support materials. Often those are created to get approval from state adoption committees and, in my experience, are not key to getting the basic lessons taught.
Inquire if there is a scope and sequence that you are required to used. Is it already done, developed as a team, or can you create your own?
If the sequence is predetermined, can you go at your own pace? Can you go at your own pace but are required to cover specific standards by a certain time (ex. an assessment window)?
Investigate what kinds of student materials are available. Do you have enough copies? Will you need to make copies? Can you even make copies of the materials? Will students have to share? How will you manage that?
Get comfortable with what you will have to be teaching, materials available, and any site or district mandated procedures first. Once you have accomplished that let yourself go crazy in the land of Pinterest, Teachers Pay Teachers, and have fun creating your lessons.
If you would like more organizing tips check out our book The Uncluttered Teacher.