I'm linking up with SHARING KINDERGARTEN to pass on:
Tips to a Kindergarten Teacher,
From a Kindergarten Teacher
As the school year comes to a close, it's great to reflect on what worked well. Here are some of my thoughts on how to have a great year in kindergarten.
Relationships are key to maximizing the growth of students. Parents and students must know that you love and care for them. This year I had the most amazing support from parents who were on my side. I was able to talk to parents about areas that I wanted to target for growth - from behavioral issues to phonemic awareness. Parents trusted that I wanted what is best for their children so they supported me and followed through at home. I had one struggling student who came back after the weekend and moved up 3 whole levels on my sight words (he learned approximately 75 new words over the weekend). Without parental support - there is no way that this would have happened.
There are lots of rough days in kindergarten - but it really helps to remember that all behaviors are ways for students to communicate and they serve a function. When a child yells at another, it's probably not because they are mean-spirited. They might be communicating with others in a way that they have learned at home or they might not have the words to express refusals. Sharing is something that we always work on in class. Let's pretend that student A is playing with Legos and student B takes some away. Student A will likely need to be coached on how to tell student B that they are using the toys. Without proper coaching, the students might get into an argument about how to play with the same toys. Student A might need help telling student B that they are building a structure and is using a toy or they might need help learning how to play together. I always try to assume positive intentions and look at the function of behavioral issues. When you start realizing that behaviors are functional - you can be pro-active and prevent a lot of problems.
Two heads are better than one. I've learned that it's beneficial to collaborate on lesson planning with a team of educators. Each person that I have worked with has had particular strengths. I have learned wonderful teaching strategies from experienced educators. I love working on team goals and picking the brains of my colleagues. They always have something to share that I haven't tried.
I have also been able to push my grade level team out of their comfort zone to try new strategies. I think it's important to use your co-workers to your advantage and really learn from one another. At my school we teach systematic English language development. At first my colleagues were not sure what teaching ELD should look like. As a licensed ESOL teacher, I was very confident in this area. One day I volunteered to move my class outside to the patio and I did a demo lesson while 2 teachers and 60 students gathered around my class as if in a fishbowl. Both the students and teachers saw how we used particular partnering routines and how easy it was to implement. It is important to make sure that your teaching is intentional and purposeful. And you have to be willing to share and learn from others.
Ok, this is super important!! Teachers must be super organized. You don't want to be scrambling
for guided reading books or digging through a pile to find where you put your read-aloud book. You must plan ahead and keep your teaching resources organized, filed, and easy to access. What happens when you turn your back to 30 5-year olds? Well, you don't want to know! If you spend 5 minutes a day looking for teacher "stuff" that adds up ... just think that by the end of the day that's 25 minutes of wasted time! Think of how much teaching you could pack into 25 minutes! Now, if you are like me, you might need to use your mid-day prep time to catch your breath and chug your water bottle. But I always come in to work a little early or stay a little late to make sure that my lessons are prepped and ready to go. I know some teachers who zip around their rooms during their prized prep time and are able to prepare their lessons in that time. As long as you're ready to go - that's the important thing. Show your students that you care about them and that their time is valuable by planning ahead and being on top of your teaching game!
Now hop over to SHARING KINDERGARTEN to read more tips for teachers.