Things to Accomplish While in Your School

pdf-icon-transparent-background2You can download a PDF version of the list below for easier access.

Practical Stuff

  • Where should you park?
  • What time are teachers required to be in their classrooms?
  • What is the daily bell schedule? What variations exist?
  • Are you required to wear an ID badge? If so, where do you obtain one?
  • Can you register as a substitute teacher with this school and district?
  • Which events (e.g., prom, sporting events, holidays, special school days, etc.) disrupt teaching?
  • Get a copy of the school/district calendar. Note holidays, grading periods, teacher work days, early-out days, and other events that might affect your students and your teaching.
  • Where’s the library? Who’s the librarian?
  • Where is the faculty restroom?
  • Where should you keep your materials?
  • When do the grading periods/terms end?
  • When is your cooperating teacher’s preparation period?

Things to Do

  • Give your cooperating teacher your email address and phone number.
  • Get a copy of your teacher’s teaching schedule
  • Schedule a time to talk with your teacher about the 377 assignments you must complete in her classroom.
  • Get a copy of the seating chart for the classes you’ll be teaching.
  • Schedule times to plan (or to review) your first lesson and to teach it.

Copy procedures

  • Where in the building do you access copy machines? Do you make copies yourself or does the school have a copy aide?
  • Are there limits to the number of copies you can make?
  • What about transparencies? Can you make transparencies from copies or laser printers?


  • What technology resources are available at the school? (Computer labs, LCD projectors, DVD players/TVs, etc.) How do you schedule the use of these? How are these resources scheduled by teachers?
  • What form of electronic gradebook does the school/district use? So students/parents have access to this gradebook?
  • What access do students have to technology? (at home, via computer labs, etc.)


  • Who are the principals/assistant principals in the school? Are they responsible for different areas of school administration? (scheduling, discipline, extra-curricular, etc.)
  • Is there a protocol in place for referring students to the administration for discipline or other concerns?
  • What is the name of the English department chair?
  • Who are the secretaries? What jobs do they have that might impact your work?
  • How do you arrange for a substitute teacher (interns)? Whom do you contact at the school if you’re going to be sick and/or must miss school?
  • How are counselors in the school assigned to students? What’s the procedure for discussing a student with a counselor?

School Policies

  • There should be a faculty handbook or other document that outlines school policies for students and faculty. Spend some time reviewing the handbook, especially looking for these thing
  • What are safe-school violations and how are you to handle these as a teacher?
  • Is there an attendance policy? What is your responsibility with regards to that policy?
  • How often are you expected to update grades and attendance for classes?
  • When/Where/How often are faculty meetings held?

Disclosure Documents

  • Collect and read the disclosure document of your mentor/cooperating teacher. Look for these things:
    • What philosophical beliefs about teaching or content does the disclosure reveal?
    • How does the teacher handle late work or excessive absences?
    • What rules are outlined in the disclosure document?
    • What other important policies or issues are covered?
  • If possible, collect and read disclosures from multiple teachers and compare them.


  • What textbooks are available in the classroom? Which are being used?
  • What collections/classroom sets of books are available?
  • Which of the language arts (reading, literature, grammar, writing, listening/speaking, media) are emphasized in this class?
  • What are the primary literary texts used in this class?
  • Are there any packaged programs (e.g., Accelerated Reader, My Access, Read 180) used in this class? If so, how are they used?
  • How is the library used to support teaching and learning?
  • Have there been any recent attacks on books or films used in this school? If so, which texts were attacked and why?
  • What curricular material is covered in the grades immediately before and after this class? For example, if you’re in a 10th grade class, what novels or plays are read in 9th and 11th grade? What writing forms are emphasized in 9th and 11th grade?


  • What novels and other literary works will be taught this semester? What will you be expected to teach next semester?
  • What additional texts are available or will be used?
  • What are the students’ general strengths?
  • What are the students’ general weaknesses?
  • What topics has the class already studied?
  • What topics will be studied in the next 3 months?
  • How is instruction organized: thematically, by genre, by language art?
  • What are the daily routines in class?
  • What skills are emphasized by District or State Core Curriculum for this class?
  • What might you teach for your lessons this semester?