Big change. Where do I start?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by K-5_teacherguy, Jun 30, 2017.

  1. K-5_teacherguy

    K-5_teacherguy Companion

    Dec 7, 2014
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    Jun 30, 2017

    A few days ago, I was offered a 1st grade position in the only district I would have left my current school for. It's the same district I grew up in and graduated from, and all of my family lives in this area as well, so I'm very excited! However, my first two years of teaching have been in 5th grade. Now the excitement of the job offer is wearing off, and the reality of teaching 1st grade is setting in.

    While I am very excited for the new challenge, I'm not sure I could possibly anticipate everything that will be different working with kids so much younger. Obviously they will be much less independent, and the content will be more foundational. But are there any tips or experiences anyone can share to give me a better idea of what 1st grade will be like? I'd love to hear from anyone who has moved down several grade levels, or anyone who has any experience at all teaching primary grades. Thanks in advance!
  3. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

    Apr 25, 2007
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    Jun 30, 2017

    I have no advice as I've only taught upper grades, but after a decade in fifth, I can relate to your nervous feeling about moving down to first. Can you contact any of your new team members and try to pick their brains?
  4. SaraFirst

    SaraFirst Cohort

    Jun 7, 2006
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    Jul 1, 2017

    First grade is great! They need lots of modeling and explaining directions several times. Teachers must be very patient with them. You will have to show them how to line up, how to move to the carpet, remind them where to put things (finished papers, etc.). They are not very independent, especially at the beginning of the year. There are tons of first grade blogs with lots of good ideas you could check out.
  5. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

    May 29, 2007
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    Jul 1, 2017

    This is the advice I gave in a different thread:

    I made the same move my third year of teaching - from 6th to 1st. Grade 1 is magical, you are going to love it!! Here are some tips - please note that I did not have a formal management plan, like a clip chart or anything like that.

    1. You have to explain every step of everything, then model it and then practice it, over and over. There are no blanket instructions at the beginning of grade 1 or anytime you introduce something new. It goes something like this:
    "Boys and girls, in a minute I am going to invite you all to sit on the carpet. When you move to the carpet, you will walk quietly the whole way and then sit down with your legs crossed like this (model sitting cross legged). Who thinks they can show the class what that will look like? Alright Timmy, show us how to move to the carpet. That was perfect, Timmy walked carefully and quietly and then sat down in the spot I showed him. Look at how patiently he is sitting now. Wow! Does anyone else think they can come to the carpet as nicely as Timmy?"
    You will feel like a cheerleader all day long!!

    2. I had a set of chimes that I used for transitions. I trained them to start cleaning when they heard the chimes, so it was a nice nonverbal cue for them.

    3. We had a marble jar - when everyone was on task, I added a marble or two to the jar and when it was full we celebrated with an activity of their choice.

    4. I sang nearly all day. I made up songs about what we were doing and they loved following my song directions.

    6. Get a digital timer. They will do just about anything to "beat the timer". Also, I used it to help them build stamina to work independently. It goes something like this, "Today when you go back to your desks to work, you are going to work all by yourself for 1 minute. That means for 1 minute there will be absolutely no talking. Not even whispering. If you need help, you will put up your hand quietly and I will come to you. Who can show us what that will look like? Jenny, can you show us. Let's all watch Jenny. Wow! She walked to her desk so quietly and look how she is getting her pencil and starting on her work right away. (Pause) Now listen, not a peep! That is perfect. Who thinks they can work as quietly as Jenny?"

    Send students to their desks and praise them for moving quietly. "Alright class, now I am going to start the timer and for 1 minute no one is going to talk, we are just going to work." If someone does talk, restart the timer. After 1 minute of quiet work praise, praise, praise!! Work on 1 minute until they are successful three times in a row and gradually start to increase the time. By the end of grade 1, most of my students can work for 15-20 minutes by themselves. It's rare that we would do that, but it is nice to have that trick up your sleeve, because sometimes you just need it to be quiet for a few minutes!!

    5. Mostly it's about coaching, cheering and meaning things the first time you say them. Like classroom management at any grade level. They just need super explicit instructions! I can't keep up with a fancy plan consistently, so I run my classroom as "I'm the adult and just gave you an instruction. I know you will follow it on your own. If you don't, I will help you."

    Oh and one thing I was not prepared for was how long it takes them to get ready in the winter. Not sure about your climate, but our Arctic weather requires a lot of outdoor gear. We spent most of Nov-March just putting on and taking off our outdoor clothing!
    otterpop likes this.

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