How to Survive Your First Week of Teaching Early Childhood

Posted on September 7, 2010. Filed under: educational, Kindergarten, teaching and learning |

Now, before you go on reading the rest of this post, know that I am not a seasoned veteran in this area.  In fact, last week was my first week of paid teaching- ever.  But holy cow- did I learn alot.

First– I learned that prep is KEY to the success of your day.  I knew every teacher has prep to do, but I didn’t realize it was so dang important.  For example, on my school supply list, I asked for the students to send a 2 litre washed out milk carton to school.  I was planning on cutting them in half and making them into their “pencil boxes.”  The first day of school, the children coloured pictures.  These pictures were going to decorate the outside of the milk container pencil box.  This was fine except that I didn’t pre-cut the children’s construction paper to size, and I didn’t ask for their milk cartons to be cut in half.  Sounds simple, but those two tasks took me so much extra time those first two days of school.  Time that could have been better spent organizing other things- like children.

Second– I learned that I need to emphasize that parents need to bring their children ON TIME those first two days of school.  In Kindergarten, we stagger-start the children on the first two days so there are not too many children at one time.  This is a great idea, but it doesn’t make things any easier when parents are bringing their children in a little bit late.  I understand that things come up, and I’m not mad at parents for bringing their children in late, I just realized how much more smooth things could have gone if everyone showed up at the same time.  The problem I ran into is that on the first day of school, everyone’s emotions are running high, parents and children, and it’s best if the children don’t have time to sit by themselves and think about how much they miss their parents.  Let me explain: The first thing I did on the first day of school was have the children come in and find a spot on the carpet.  When everyone was sitting, I had them all turn around and wave goodbye to their parents.  This worked excellent, and it helped the parents know it was time to leave.  The only problem was that just as I was introducing myself and beginning our normal carpet routine, a parent would walk in, and I would have to leave the other 9 children on the carpet to welcome them and tell them what to do.  Now the new timid children are on the carpet by themselves, they don’t know the routines yet, and they have just seen a child that still has their parent with them.  That’s not the ideal scenario I’d like to be in.  I feel like I could have survived those first 10 minutes a lot easier if I had all the children at one time.

Third– I learned that before the children can do a good job of taking care of your classroom, they need to know HOW.  During the day, the children have a play time where they get to play at different centres.  The first day, I let the children play at whatever centre they liked, and switch whenever they want.  What a gong show!  The centres were left really messy, and I couldn’t keep track of who was at each centre, even though we have a little pocket chart for them to show which centre they are playing at.  After school, I talked to the pre-school teacher and she suggested that for the first little while, they aren’t allowed to switch.  I liked the idea, and tried it the next day.  Even though by the end of the centres time, some of the children were getting a little bored of their centre, the structure of keeping the same centre was so much better.  I also decided to take a couple minutes each day and have the children go to the centre and learn how to clean up properly.  I showed them what I expected the centre to look like, and it worked like a charm!  The children just didn’t know my expectations earlier.  It is exactly a week later, and the children are cleaning up the centres the way I would do it! What a relief!

Obviously there are more things that I learned last week, but I thought these 3 were some of my bigger “ah ha” moments that I could share with other teachers.  Please comment if you have any other “need to know” information for surviving your first week at school!

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