Make Floating Work For You

Being a new teacher in a middle or high school can be intimidating. Getting to know a large number of new students, adjusting to a school’s culture and being prepared for something new every class period is enough to challenge even the most prepared teachers. On top of the normal stresses that come along with being an educator, many new teachers also must adapt to being a floater; that is, a teacher without a classroom.

Due to overcrowded schools, many teachers (usually newbies) are tasked with teaching in a different classroom each period of the day while other teachers are out for planning periods and lunch breaks. Floaters are easily identifiable in school hallways, usually pushing a cart filled with an entire day’s materials. While the challenges to floating teachers are numerous, there are strategies and systems that can make even the most hesitant floater a star teacher. Here are some ideas from other successful floaters – be sure to check out the links for more practical advice:

1) Organization is key – Make sure that you have the correct materials on your cart at the beginning of each day. Making extra stops to pick up materials between classes will only add to your stress and likely make you tardy to class.
2) Build relationships with other teachers – You’ll get to know many other teachers by spending time in their classrooms. It’s important to cultivate relationships with them so that you can co-exist in the same classroom space and both teach effectively. The time spent in their rooms also gives you a chance to understand what else your students are working on outside of your class.
3) Be time conscious – Although switching classrooms can be tricky when hallways are crowded, make getting to class on time your top priority. Your students will take notice if you’re late, and they’ll recognize your commitment to them if you’re consistently on time (even if you sometimes arrive out of breath).
4) Be honest with your administration about the support you need – Your job of a floating teacher is definitively easier with strong support from your administrators. If your home base is too far from your classes or you have a conflict with a teacher whose room you teach in, be sure to broach the issue with administrators before unnecessary strain becomes a problem.
5) Keep a positive attitude – Although it may sound cliché, a positive outlook on your position as a floater is imperative. There will be challenges and unexpected issues will arise, but dealing with them in a calm, professional manner reflects well on you, and sets a great example for your students.

Does your school utilize floating teachers? If you’ve been a floater, what advice can you offer teachers who are still adjusting to it?