Extremely Overwhelmed!!

Discussion in 'Kindergarten' started by christine89, Jul 11, 2011.

  1. christine89

    christine89 Companion

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    Jul 11, 2011

    Hi
    I'm a first-year teacher and I'll be teaching combined preschool/kindergarten. The preschool is half-day and K is full-day. I just went and picked up all my teacher's editions today and I'm on planning overload. Plus, this is the first year the preschool has been combined so I have all that to figure into the planning. I'm wondering what the best way to do that is and it's basically up to me to figure that out.
    There's just a lot to plan... Math, Reading, Language, Phonics, Handwriting, Science, Social Studies, Art, etc. I'm feeling really overwhelmed and not sure where to start. Any advice? I haven't started planning yet, just looking through the books so I'm basically at square one here.
    Thanks!
     
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  3. mrsrooney

    mrsrooney Rookie

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    Jul 11, 2011

    That's a tough situation but I'm sure you'll do well. To me that is a ridiculous split grade but you have to work with it and make the best of it.

    Are there more preschool and kindergarten classes in your school so you are getting the high preschoolers and the lower kinders and they will be closer in ability and skill levels? In the reality of all classrooms you are going to have a wide range of abilities anyway so it's best to be able to differentiate right from the get go and set the tone for your career. I would see if you can take a workshop or go to a conference on Differentiated Instruction over the course of the year. SDE (Staff Development for Educators) is a good company that does workshops and conferences and I have enjoyed all that I've attended.

    Personally I would probably try to do some basic literacy and math in the mornings as well as your science, social studies, art... and then build on the math and literacy for the kindergarten students in the afternoon. You could do literacy work stations and math work stations at that time, guided reading and maybe revisit your morning message for shared or interactive writing too. I really try to focus on math and literacy and see where I can integrate the other subjects into them so that I don't have to teach them separately. For example: If you must cover the life cycle for science, then use that in your read alouds, shared reading and writing. Try to get more bang for your buck in everything you do and combine things. You can cover a lot of math concepts (especially preschool ones) at calendar time with counting, one on one correspondence, patterns, even geometry (I like to use flips, slides and turns with my calendar pieces)... I do my calendar at math time for this reason.

    I am very willing to help you out with ideas if you ever need any or have a question. I know what it is like to be overwhelmed in your first year and it is only now in my 8th year that I am really, really confident in what I am doing (doesn't help that I have taught every grade between k and 8, covering mat leaves part of that time...) Don't be afraid to ask questions of your co-workers and seek out the ones that are positive and willing to help. The number one thing I would suggest is not to get too carried away with cutesy crafts and activities that have no link to the curriculum. With young ones they do need to learn to cut and develop their fine motor skills but you can still link creative projects with literacy or math, again - more bang for your buck:)

    Take care and best of luck:)
     
  4. myKroom

    myKroom Habitué

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    Jul 11, 2011

    Are you the only one at your grade level? If not, definitely ask your coworkers for ideas! How many hours do you have your prek kiddos?

    Best advice I can give you for the beginning is to not overdo it! Start simple! The beginning of the year is all about routine, procedures, and rules! Academics will come, but you must establish these things first! With so many little ones at varying levels this will be incredibly important for your classroom management!!!

    I learned the best advice this year (my fifth year)...IF YOU WANT IT, TEACH IT! You can't expect (assume) that they know how to do things at this age (example-walking in a line), you have to teach them each step that you want and then practice, practice, practice!
     
  5. Pre-K Teacher 1

    Pre-K Teacher 1 Comrade

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    Jul 12, 2011

    YES! This is absolutely true. Take the time at the beginning of the year to establish routines consistently. This means practice, practice and practice some more. It's up to you to set the tone for the year. I've taught kinder and preschool but never combined. NEVER assume that the kids know how to do things. Make a schedule of your day and then go through it with a fine tooth comb looking at every transition and moment that the kids are in your class and make a plan that you will teach them to follow. This is so important...do it consistently so that the children learn the routines of the day. If you spend time doing this, things will go much more smoothly for the rest of the year. Use your team if you have other kinder and preschool teachers at your school.
     
  6. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jul 12, 2011

    Christine, do you have any sort of syllabus for each of those subjects? State standards? Pacing guide? Any sort of written list of what you're supposed to cover?
     
  7. zoey'smom

    zoey'smom Cohort

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    Jul 12, 2011

    I have no advice. I also teach both Kindergarten and preschool, but not together. I teach morning Kindregarten and after lunch I go and teach the half day Preschool. Another teacher comes in and teach my Kindergarten class. I hate it, but I got to say I think I would hate your situation more. Good Luck! I wish I could help with advice. If you have general questions about preschool and Kindergarten I would be glad to help.
     
  8. christine89

    christine89 Companion

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    Jul 12, 2011

    Thank you for your advice thus far. Yes, I was given a list of pre-K standards/concepts that I have to follow. However, that was pretty much all I was given as this is the first year they are doing the combination. It is a small school so I am the only teacher at my grade level. In the morning, I will have a total of 14-15 students and in the afternoon it will go down to about 7-8. I know I can do it, it's just going to take some time and research to find plenty for the pre-K to do.
    I have plenty for the K to do and I can combine some things. The thing is I don't really want the pre-K to be doing exactly what K is doing as far as worksheets and stuff like that mainly because they will see those at the K level next year and I don't want it to feel like 2 years of K for them.
    Thanks again! I'm sure once I really dig into things, I'll feel better.
     
  9. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jul 12, 2011

    OK, here's what I would do.

    I would start with a chart. (Sorry, I'm a math teacher. I LOVE charts!!!)

    3 columns: topic, Pre-K, K

    List all the concepts you have to cover and check off who needs to see it. The concepts that hit both groups are your morning work. They don't have to hit the same level of difficulty, but you can give an overview to the whole group, then break them into Pre-K/ K groupings for more individualized instruction. The K kids could even start off a topic by explaning what they know to the Pre-K kids-- I bet there are some standards in there about explaining or public speaking or something. And, if not, it would at least allow you to determine just what they know and remember on the topics.
     
  10. mrsrooney

    mrsrooney Rookie

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    Jul 12, 2011

    At that age group I wouldn't be doing very many worksheets (if any) anyway. You can accomplish all the same things in a more meaningful way with games, small group activities and work stations.
     
  11. teacherSMK

    teacherSMK Habitué

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    Jul 13, 2011

    Hi there! I teach a combined, full-day pre-k, kinder class. I love it! It was super overwhelming to me at first, as well, but as I have learned over the last few years, it really is "do-able!"
    I have also found that my pre-k students are very ready for kindergarten when the time comes, and they do well even on items that we may have covered the previous year.
    The best advice I can give is when you are doing your planning, block out what you will be doing for each group. Many of my activities are combined, but I level the individual work differently. For instance, I may have my pre-k's working with an alphabet flashcard game while my k's are working on an alphabet worksheet.
    You can do this!
    If you have questions, feel free to pm me!
    :hugs: good luck!
     
  12. myKroom

    myKroom Habitué

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    Jul 13, 2011

    At least you have small numbers...that will help!

    Maybe do a large chunk of your centers in the morning. That will make it easier to differentiate for the different levels and get some small groups in. It will also get in a lot of that social/play/academic that the prek kids need, but also allow you some academic time. Then your afternoons you could focus more on your deeper academics with the kinders!
     
  13. christine89

    christine89 Companion

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    Jul 13, 2011

    teacherSMK - Thank you so much!! It's so nice to find that someone else is teaching this type of combination. I'm starting to come down from being so overwhelmed and really see how this will work. My mind is slowly working it's way toward exactly what you said in your post. Thanks so much for your insight!
     
  14. MrsM7

    MrsM7 Rookie

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    Jul 14, 2011

    I have taught K/1 and 1/2 classes in the past and loved it (especially K/1)!! It is very overwhelming at the beginning, but it will get better.

    I would always start with a large group literacy or math lesson, then differentiate in small groups. For example, we might all work on how to print a letter together in my large group lesson then in small groups they print in their own grade level materials or texts. My math always started with Calendar Math together and then we would work on math at their own level in small groups. Hopefully, you have an aide who can teach small groups or supervise the kids you are not meeting with.

    For science, social studies, and art I taught everyone together in a two-year curriculum cycle.

    Let me know if you have other questions! Good luck!
     
  15. teacherSMK

    teacherSMK Habitué

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    Jul 15, 2011

    You are very welcome, CHristine! Feel free to PM me if you have further questions. ;)
     
  16. MzMooreTeaches

    MzMooreTeaches Cohort

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    Jul 15, 2011

    Hey. I teach a combination class prek/k. But I'm also at a public Montessori School. Initially it does sound extremely overwhelming. Before I didn't do this as much as I should have. But focus on routines, classroom management, expectations and model how you want everything done. practice lining up, quiet voices, walking int he hall, walking in the classroom etc. Try to find fun songs to sing and role play these.

    Just like someone else said the goals that all need in the morning work on those. Counting, letter and sound recognition, writing names, etc for morning activities. Will you have a co-teacher?

    See if you can create work in your classroom that will allow for students to work on independently so that you can pull small groups throughout the morning work cycle.

    Your afternoons, those skills that only kindergarteners need is when you have intensive afternoon work for them. Reading group, social studies and math goals.

    We can talk more if you wish and I can share some ideas...

    Breath easy. At least the first week its going to be all about classroom management and teaching them your expectations... and modeling how you want them to work in the classroom.
     

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