Right now I've been reflecting on my first year teaching Kindergarten. There were many things that went great that I can't wait to do again, and there are some things that I need to work on. Luckily this Link-up is packed-full of very helpful tips and tricks from tons of K- teachers.... I love Kindergarten. It's the best. I love experiencing so many "firsts" for kiddos. First time they read a word to their first book, how independent they become, and just seeing them grow. Teaching Kindergarten may seem like a nightmare to some, but to me it's a blessing. Even though I am a first year teacher, I do have a few tips that I hope you can relate to or that you may take with you into your next (or first) year teaching Kindergarten!
1. First let me begin by saying that my mother teaches first grade. I remember sitting in her class one day visiting her (I think I was in high school) and she was lining her kids up to dismiss them to go home. As each student walked out the door she gave them a hug and told them she loved them. I asked her why she did that, just to hear her response though I knew, and she said "this might be the only time they ever get to hear that". That really stuck with me. I don't think a day went by at school when I didn't tell my kids I love them. It really is so true. I want my classroom to be a safe place where they go to learn and to feel loved. I want their parents/guardians to know that they are with someone who genuinely cares for their child. A lot of children go home to very broken homes, they may get tossed around to different people, or go through custody battles that are messy, etc. I want to have a consistent relationship with them where they come in to my room, have a great day, and the last thing they hear when they leave my room is that someone loves them.
2. We have a lot of GoNoodle time in my classroom. I think mini breaks are very essential in Kindergarten because they need to move their little bodies as often as they can. If you are familiar with GoNoodle then you know that is full of funny dances and songs to get kids moving and laughing! Sometimes during GoNoodle I'm transitioning for the next activity. But most the time, I'm busting a move with Koo Koo Kangaroo, doing yoga with Maximo, or "running like a kitty kitty". Why? The kids love when you join in with them! They think it is awesome that their teacher is being just as silly as they are. Also, It's a bit of stress-reliever if you ask me! Don't be scared to be silly!
3. If you ask your students if they remember doing that super cute Thanksgiving sight word practice worksheet you created for them, you'd probably get a bank stare. But if you ask them if they remember doing that awesome science project during the first weeks of school with the Mentos and the Diet Coke, their eyes will light up and they will be so ecstatic to tell you all about it! We love doing AS MUCH hands-on learning as we can in my class. Whether it's writing our sight words in shaving cream, various science projects, or simple sidewalk chalk CVC words, they are glued! They absolutely love putting that pencil down and learning outside the box. Even though it's easy to make a run to the copier than busting out the shaving cream, try to make time to do things like this in your room. I started doing Worksheet-Free Wednesdays last year, second semester after seeing a post from Elizabeth Hall about it. My kids looked forward to that day so much!!!
4. Just like Sharing Kindergarten said, it is so important to pray for students. Most of the time I pray in my car on my way to school. I pray for us as a class, me as their teacher, the ones who I know are going through struggles at home, and anything else that comes to mind. My morning prayer usually goes like this. Keep in mind I'm probably speeding and trying to chug down coffee while praying haha.... "Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for this beautiful day. Thank you Lord for giving me the opportunity to work at this school and with these amazing students. Lord please help me do the best for my students today. Lord please be with my kiddos today and help them to be on their best behavior (never hurts right?), and if they aren't please help be very patient. Lord please be with those that are going through hard times at home and help me have understanding for their behaviors and be able to help them with whatever it is they're going through. Lord please make sure my kiddos feel loved at home and know that you love them and are there for them. Thank you for leading me to be a teacher." And all Gods K Teachers said? Amen!!!