Kindergarten has to be one of hardest and most rewarding grades to teach. I like to tell people you either love it or you don't! I have absolutely loved every second of it! Today I am linking up with Sharing Kindergarten to share some tips for teaching Kindergarten! Make sure and click below to read all of the great tips!
If your classroom is totally running before October, you are probably not modeling enough! It takes me WEEKS to really teach all of the routines, procedures and centers. And honestly, you are constantly reteaching and remodeling the whole entire year. I think it's so important for students to have lots of time to practice what is expected of them and it really pays off later. It is so crucial that my students are working independently during literacy centers because this will be the time that I eventually meet with guided reading groups. If I don't spend the time getting them working independently at the beginning, then my guided reading groups will crash and bomb because I will be constantly redirecting unwanted behaviors.
Our first field trip usually happens in October and I literally set up a pretend bus with chairs in my classroom. We practice only talking to the person next to us, how to sit on our bottoms and face the front, etc. It makes a HUGE difference!! Just like adults, they want to be prepared for what is going to happen too!
It can also be really fun for them to model what not to do or if you pretend to be a kid too. My kids LOVE when I show them how NOT to get my attention. I sit on the carpet, wave my hand wildly and yell, "Mrs. Chesworth! Mrs Chesworth! Pick me! Mrs. Chesworth! ME! ME! ME!" Then I always have them show me what they should do instead. They LOVE it! If you feel like a silly goose, you are doing it right!
We all take a million pictures right? USE them in your classroom! Visuals make them independent! I put their picture on everything at the beginning of the year and it really helps them recognize names!
Visuals can also be really powerful strategies for behavior reminders. This year I had a sweet friend who struggled with sitting on the carpet. When I noticed him doing it right, I made a huge deal and took his picture. I printed it out with a few reminders and kept it on my desk. Whenever he needed a reminder, I would simply show him the picture and that was all he needed! I eventually made an entire social story using these pictures to help him. I have a post on social stories coming soon! : )
Taking lots of pictures is also great for end of the year gifts!
I think one of the things I love most about Kindergarten is that you are the start! You are their very first teacher. What a special thing! It is also important to remember that you may be the first person a parent has left their sweet baby with! Make sure you communicate and keep parents in the loop! At the beginning of the year, I give parents a magnet with all of my contact information and the school phone numbers. I also put together a classroom handbook that explains how my classroom runs. I think it answers a lot of parent's questions and it's perfect when you get a new student in the middle of the school year.
A weekly newsletter is also a good idea!
As a Kindergarten teacher,you are going to receive a lot of notes, pictures, and random objects. Make yourself a little place to keep them! I have a 12x12 scrapbook box from each year. It's so fun to go pack and look at all of the special treasures I have gathered. Sometimes I even write down cute things they say on post it notes or take pictures.
I think I might talk about my fur babies Lexi and Luke too much...
I love all of the random things too. This year one of my little friends ran in and told me she had a BIG surprise for me! She pulled a little ZIploc bag out of her backpack with a peach and a quarter in it. It was so sweet and worth so much. All day long she asked me if I "ate the fruit yet" and "what I was going to buy." Those are the moments that make teaching Kindergarten priceless...