No Classroom at All
Being a “floater” is one of the worst situations a new teacher can be placed in. This means that you do not have a permanent classroom, but move into classrooms when other teachers have planning periods. In other words, first period might mean you are in Mrs. Smith's classroom because she has planning first period. Second period might mean you move to Mr. Jones's classroom because he has planning at that time.
And you keep moving from classroom to classroom throughout the day. Obviously, this is not conducive to helping you feel comfortable your first year, and it can pose some real challenges. Yet, if you can face the challenges of “floating,” you will be that much closer to becoming a truly effective teacher.
One of the first keys to success is to create a system of organization. Typically, a school will provide a “floating” teacher with a cart. Create sections in your cart and permanent places for important information. For example, keep your lesson plan book and your attendance papers in the same spot every day so you can easily access them.
Because you are moving from class to class and you have little if any time to catch your breath, you will find that staying organized can be a real challenge. Since you will probably be packing up your items after the dismissal bell rings, you will have little time to use a complicated organizational system. Go for simplicity.
You should purchase a portable file box to take with you from class to class. This allows you to keep student work and your papers organized and private. Remember that it is your obligation to protect the privacy of your students' work.
A teacher's planning period is a truly important part of her day. For one thing, it is typically a time to come off the “stage” of teaching and take a silent break. It can be a peaceful, regenerative experience if treated correctly.
However, as a “floater” it can be difficult to find a peaceful place to do your planning, grade your students' papers, or even just to catch your breath. Some schools make sure to provide teachers with the space to work before and after school and during planning. However, some schools leave “floaters” to find room for themselves. It is important that you spend some time finding this personal space and that you treat it as such.
Issues with Other Teachers
One of the biggest problems for “floaters” is interacting with other teachers. Since you are using someone else's room, you will face many issues not encountered by teachers with assigned classrooms. Many teachers feel that their room is their personal space, and by entering it — even reluctantly — you are violating their space. You make them move for their planning so they cannot even work at their desks. You sit at their desks. In other words, you are an intruder.
To avoid problems with teachers while you are “floating,” spend the last two to three minutes of each period straightening up the classroom and picking up trash. Many teachers who are unhappy sharing their room will focus on the condition in which you leave it each day.
It's possible you will find some hostility on the part of teachers whose classrooms you will need to borrow, especially if they are veterans. Some teachers may even be downright rude to you. Through it all, make sure that you treat each room you enter as your own. This means that you give some thought to picking up and taking care of everything in the room.
In the end, remember that no teacher “owns” a classroom. They are assigned a room by the administration. If the principal wanted to, he could change all room assignments each year. Even though you should continue to be thoughtful, do not become a doormat because of other teachers' issues.