Tired and Frustrated New Teacher...

Discussion in 'Elementary Education Archives' started by kcbutterfly, Aug 11, 2006.

  1. kcbutterfly

    kcbutterfly Companion

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    Aug 11, 2006

    I am a new Kindergarten teacher, and this week was the first full week of school (last Friday was the first day). I am already so tired and frustrated. :( I always thought that I would have a very orderly classroom where students knew what was expected of them and behaved appropriately, but I feel like I have been constantly reminding kids to behave and disciplining. Today my class was about a minute late for lunch (Do you know how long it takes Kindergarteners to go to the bathroom, wash their hands, and line up in alphabetical order?! :eek: ), and a 4th grade teacher really chewed me out about it. Our school is a Reading First school for the first year, and so we are required to have 120 minutes of reading instruction. 60 minutes of that is straight from the basal (Harcourt), and of course the kids don't have the attention span to sit through the lessons. It's so hard to get through the hour long basal lesson every day. I don't think the kids are having any fun, and I don't think any of them like me at all. My parapro is constantly criticizing me, and she has made me feel like I am not doing anything right. I just wish I could see a light at the end of the tunnel. :(
     
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  3. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    KC- I've been there. Don't feel so bad. You will get through this. These children are young and you have to teach them everything. Right down to the smallest detail. You can do it. Just don't let the pressure break you. As for that other teacher, that is her problem. It's acutally none of her business. It is especially hard when the kids are that small and have to have such a rigid schedule like you mentioned. I know you can do it. It will get easier. Your parapro sounds just like how mine used to be. Be careful of anything you say to her. I have a feeling she is not to be trusted. Just do the best you can.

    Hang in there.
     
  4. bigcat

    bigcat Rookie

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    Aug 11, 2006

    HANG IN THERE!!!!!!!

    You can do this. Remember to teach the kids to do everything. Take these next days and weeks to practice lining up, sharpening pencils, raising hands to talk......EVERYTHING. PRactice...practice...practice. You have to model it all for them as well. Try not to take what others say personally....they were new once as well and need to remember that. I bet you are doing great.....don't beat yourself up. Remember two things...you know more than the kids and laugh and smile with them. You'll have a great year.:love:
     
  5. chicagoturtle

    chicagoturtle Fanatic

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    Aug 11, 2006

    It takes awhile to get used to the routine. Keep your chin up. Think of a few positvie things that did happen at the end of the day. Unfortunatly in most places, student teaching doesn't prepare you much for the real world. I agree watch what you say to the para, try to have an open conversation with her (I AM HORRID) about these but trying to help split some job responsibilites. Maybe you could do the bathroom in 2 groups of boys and girls? Or something... It will get better. If some of your babies didn't go to pre-k they have NO CLUE what they are supposed to do. It will get better. I remember having a few days where I just bawled my eyes out my first year. Seriously like 10 - 15 times AT SCHOOL! Last year I don't think it happend at all (same school). Don't let the stress get to you and remind yourself to take sometime for you.
     
  6. roxy1

    roxy1 Rookie

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    Don't worry too much. I remember my first few years of teaching kindergarten. I moved a few years ago and now teach upper elementary and oh how much I miss kdg. How many students do you have? Do you have 1/2 day or full day kdg? I can give you some tips which helped me over the years. One way to get your students quickly to lunch, specials is to line up abc order-where ever you go. It takes much practice. Practice in your room or outside at recess time. Make it fun-tell them you want to see how long it takes them to line up. Have students walk abc order in your classroom or halls-like follow the leader. Also line up 15 minutes before lunch. If you need to take them to the restroom then add 15-20 minutes. You may want to change your restroom time. To help with classroom management-students not listening-have them put their heads down and wait for complete silence-I know one teacher who told her students to bury their eyes- it seemed to work quite well. Try to use some kind of positive reward system. I used tickets last year and it worked well. I gave students tickets for good behavior, completed work, homework turned in on time, etc.. The students wrote their name on their ticket and then it went in a drawing. The students really liked it. These are just suggestions. Don't be so hard on yourself. If you have any questions feel free to ask. I taught in some of the toughest kindergarten inner-city schools in Cincinnati. Enjoy your weekend!!!!
     
  7. kcbutterfly

    kcbutterfly Companion

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    Yeah, several of my kids didn't go to pre-K. Also, over 1/2 of my class are ESL learners, and so that makes it even more difficult.
     
  8. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    I on the behalf of all fourth grade teachers in the United States of America apologize. You seem like you are caring so much about what you do! The thing is... I have been teaching three years, and I've done better this year than ever on procedures, yet I have a very social, talkative class, which isn't against me at all (and I constantly remind myself of that). What I am going to say is take some quiet time to really think about everything- and realize that the big things work out gradually. I know in my mind and heart that by the end of the year these students will be prepared for fifth grade- and will put their talkative nature to GOOD USE.
     
  9. NYSTeacher

    NYSTeacher Companion

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    Boy do I hope I get 5th graders who do exactly that....put their talkative nature to good use. :D For 5th graders can be very chatty from what \I've seen w/subbing in the past.
     
  10. k.contreras

    k.contreras Companion

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    Aug 11, 2006

    Give it some time...it is only the 1st week. Just keep reinforcing the rules and procedures.

    As far as the Reading, the school I teach at is a Reading First School and we also use the Hartcourt Program. Have you thought of breaking them into groups and rotating them through centers. That will give u about 15-20 minutes with each group to teach them the lesson (which is their attention span). Then they rotate through centers were the activity is still based on the Reading concept or story for the week. That is what our Reading Coach told the grade levels we have to do.
     
  11. leighbball

    leighbball Virtuoso

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    Aug 11, 2006

    Don't give up...I taught kinder my first year, and I felt like the first month was spent on behavior and discipline...but then we got into my lessons and the kids got better behaved and knew what to do. They are not used to being in school (most of them) and even those who went to Pre-k may find kinder to be a shock. Most of all, have fun and enjoy your kids!! They just need time to adjust to school.

    I agree with the centers idea...I don't know if I could sit through 1 hour of reading...I get so fidgety in my grad school classes!! If you can't do centers then, maybe you could break it up every 15 minutes by doing some reading and then a movement activity...only problem is settling them back down. My kinders loved our alphabet actions and stuff like that. I'm not that familiar with Reading First schools...are your lessons scripted or can you do them how you want? Keeping the kids engaged is obviously important...maybe doing some type of interactive activity will help. My kinders loved doing retellings with puppets.

    You sound like a great teacher...just don't give up on yourself. The first week is always hard. The collge professors forgot to mention that!!

    Also, if you're not tired at the end of the day, then there would probably be something wrong! I don't know of any dedicated and passionate teachers who go home with lots of energy at the end of the day:) So you're not alone there!!
     
  12. srh

    srh Devotee

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    Aug 11, 2006

    I'm going into my second year of Kinder....not an expert, but at least a "little bit" better than this time last year!!

    With your mix of EL students and low pre-K students, why don't you just focus on a couple of routines for a couple of days: maybe lining up (since that happens ALL through the day!) and how to sit on the carpet during whole group (criss-cross, applesauce?). And then heavily compliment a few who are doing exactly what you want. Trust me, when you say, "Millie, I really like how you're sitting criss-cross and ready to listen..." they ALL perk up and sit just how you want. It is so cute to watch. They are absolutely darlings at this age and simply want to please!!

    If your EL students are having trouble understanding you, perhaps you could learn a couple of important phrases in their primary language "Please sit like this...." "Please" "Thank you" to help them feel you are talking to them. Hope this helps. Good luck, and I KNOW you will come to love your class with all your heart. I already do. And all I have so far this year is the roster!!
     
  13. loves2teach

    loves2teach Enthusiast

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    Aug 12, 2006

    I don't know if this has been mentioned- but have you asked the other kinder teachers what they are doing for reading time. 60 minutes is a long time to expect the kids to sit & listen to you- is there any way you could break the 60 minutes up (30 at the start, and 30 at the end of the time or something like that?)

    We have 90 minutes of reading time & I am having 30 min of whole group time, 45 of group time, and 15 minutes of spelling.

    Good luck!! Do not let the others get you down! Just paste a smile on and keep on trucking!
     
  14. kcbutterfly

    kcbutterfly Companion

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    Aug 12, 2006

    We have 60 minutes of literacy centers, and then 60 minutes of whole group instruction time. There isn't anything I can do about that, because it's a requirement under our Reading First grant. We do have a 15 minute break in between those where we do music and movement, but that's the only break we are allowed to have during that time. The whole group lessons are very structured and have to come straight from Harcourt. They are not very interactive or engaging, and all of the teachers I have talked to are having the same problems. Our literacy coach is working on a solution and seeing if we can adapt some of the Harcourt material to make it more kid centered/interactive. Thnaks for the positive comments everyone.
     
  15. Teri22G

    Teri22G Rookie

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    Relax. Explain every little step to the kindergarteners. Find yourself a teacher that you can talk to - not the one who critized you. Being new, teachers in that school should be offer you help not critizing you. Do some fun things with the basal. Find the color red and then find the color red in the classroom. Find the letter a and find something that starts with the letter a. Talk to the kitchen and tell them you may be a little late now and then because your students are learning the procedure. If you talk to them they usually understand. When school first started I went with them through the lunch line and taught them what to do including saying yes please or no thank you when the servers asked a question. It takes while for you and the students to adjust. Be creative with your lesson plans. Find some movement for them to do with the basal until they get used to sitting still longer. Reward them - not necessary with things or gifts- with the small things they accomplish. If you need any other help, do not hesitate to ask.
     
  16. Teri22G

    Teri22G Rookie

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    I find that if you want the children to have clean hands before lunch, use waterless soap and squirt a little in their hands as they are lining up. Then they are not in the bathroom playing with the water when it is time to get moving.
     
  17. sevenplus

    sevenplus Connoisseur

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    Aug 12, 2006

    First, let me just say "congratulations!" for surviving your first week of kindergarten. I am about to begin my 7th year of K and the first few weeks are ABSOLUTELY EXHAUSTING. People who have never done it have no idea that you have to teach them everything. There is no such thing as saying "line up." I am hoping that the teacher who snapped at you was just having a stressful moment and unfortunately took it out on you. I can only assume that she was able to tell her students, "It's time for lunch. Line up." and they got in line quickly. That is not at all like the K experience, whether you've been teaching one week or 30 years. And you were only one minute late??? She should have been patting you on the back, not criticizing!

    It will get easier. You just have to hang in there. I know you know this, but be firm, fair, and consistent. Have your expectations clear in your mind. Remind students continually of what you expect. They won't all be able to do it right away, but don't let up. At the same time, praise, praise, praise for every little thing.

    Make procedures as much fun as you can. Set things to music, make up your own songs, be very dramatic, and just a little bit goofy. Have as much fun as you can. When you build a positive rapport with your students, most of them will want to please you.

    That statement really stood out to me. That is NOT a realistic expectation for the FIRST WEEK of K. It honestly takes a good 4 weeks or more for them to really understand what is expected of them. Your students are 4, 5, and 6 years old (I assume) and that age needs constant reminders.

    Your description of your reading program infuriates me. 60 minutes of whole group instruction is not developmentally appropriate for kindergarten. Trying to adhere to that is going to stress out both you and your students. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do. Sometimes you have to close your door and do what is right for the students. I know as a first year teacher you are walking a fine line. You must find advocates for yourself and your students.

    If I were you, I would teach to the spirit of the program and cover the material as best you can. But don't make you and the students miserable in the process. The 60 minutes could be a goal to work towards, but at this stage in K, even 10 minutes of focused instruction is pushing it. They can handle 30 minutes or so by the end of the year.


    Oh, and instead of criticizing, your parapro (is that an assistant or a mentor) should be helping you. Take a moment to have a serious discussion with her about your concerns and what you are struggling with.

    Please, don't be too hard on yourself. The first year of teaching is SO HARD, but you will survive. And the beginning of K is draining (physically and often emotionally). Find ways to recharge yourself. Keep posting here, talk to teachers who can relate, and remember to have fun.
     
  18. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    That is just insane! 60 min is too much. What are the other K teachers doing? How are they handling things?
     
  19. K-Mo

    K-Mo Rookie

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    On ething you could do as a whole group is "Getting to Know You." This activity focuses on phonemic awareness by using the kids' names. Kinders are centered around themselves, so using their names is a great way to catch thier interest. You use one kid a day, and talk about the letters in thier names, how long their name is, who else has that letter, etc... Have that kid try to spell his/her name with magnetic letters. Then talk about how the that kid looks and how you would draw him/her. Have the whole class draw a picture of that student. My Kinder team did this last year in 2 cycles, and the kids really liked it. I have the 2 cycles in detailed steps if you're interested. It could help break up some time, and it is a great phonemic awareness activity.
     
  20. benemma

    benemma Rookie

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    Wow! Sounds like you've had a tough first week! Just wanted to say that it will get better! Just keep at the procedures and tell your para to shut up. :D Okay, maybe not....but I would tell her that it is not her place to criticize you. Pretty bold, I'd say. Anyway....hope it gets better for you~:love:
     
  21. maestra75

    maestra75 Rookie

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    Hello!
    I have one question for you.... do you have a mentor? I am a brand new teacher as well, and will start next Tuesday, but my mentor has been wonderful, which gives me a lot of confidence. Also, the principal has implemented a school-wide management plan, which helps greatly, specially new teachers.
     
  22. Lime

    Lime Rookie

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    Hey- I'm actually jealous you have a kinder class as a new teacher! that's what I wanted but got 3rd instead. I've student taught and TA'd kinder though and know what you're talking about- it WILL get better. We had that 60 minute L.Arts thing at the start too- did not work. I hope your school can find a way around it.

    Can you pair up kids to read as partners? After you assess them you could put the higher w/lower in the meantime. Also, give yourself 10-15 minutes more than you think you need for transitions. We always had them regroup on the carpet and select a few to share what they did, learned etc. before lining up.

    And to repeat- practice everything. Take an absurd amount of time. Demonstrate yourself how to do it. Have them line up one at a time and lavish praise on who does it well, have others who don't sit back down. Demonstrate keeping your hands to your side. I read somewhere on this site (thought it was darling) that the kids put their hands on their hips (to keep them to themselves) and puff up their cheeks (to keep quiet).

    Doesn't it suck when "mentor" teachers are nasty? I've had several bad experiences w/master/mentor types who think they're gods gift to teaching and set unrealistic expectations on new teachers. It's her problem not yours.
     
  23. AZKinderTchr

    AZKinderTchr Comrade

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    The year will get better as it goes along, the beginning of kinder is very tough.

    I just came from a reading first school with the mandated 60 minutes. Your kids can do it -- ours did. What worked for me was to do a 'brain break' between each area of Harcourt. For instance after the phonemic awareness section, do 2 minutes of simon says. After shared reading do something else. I got most of my ideas from Dr. Jean. Check her website.

    Just make sure they move and smile for 1-2 minutes between each section and they'll make it through the 60 minutes. :) I am going to miss my kinder kids this year as I am teaching 3rd. Good luck.
     
  24. ms_chandler

    ms_chandler Comrade

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    Aug 12, 2006

    Kindergarteners aren't used to routine yet. You may have to drill them for a month or so. I don't understand why being ONE minute late was such a big deal!
     
  25. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    Aug 12, 2006

    Oh my goodness I'm so sorry your first week was so stressful. Will you post your schedule for us? Maybe we could all give you some ideas to help out.
    That stinks about the Read First litearcy thing. I went to a read first conference this summer and was impressed but never realized they made kinders sit for so long!
     
  26. KIF

    KIF Companion

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    Aug 12, 2006

    Are you doing anything for yourself??????

    KC,

    Last year was my first year teaching (5th grade) and I may be able to relate to what you are going through on a different level. At the beginning of the year I was so stressed. I was at school from 6:45-6 and then would take work home with me. I wasn't eating good and was simply not happy. I started going to my gym and treated myself to fresh foods and prayed for the strength to cope. I adjusted my attitude to seeing my class as a "life laboratory" and was testing things out to make this coming year better. I still did as much as I could, but basically said to myself that I was doing what I could and started looking forward to the next year. We start next week and I know exactly what I need to do in the first 5 minutes, hour, day, and week to ensure more success.

    Granted, I didn't have a parapro saying things or even other teachers. Don't worry about them........are we going for the super-teacher award or are we there for the kids?

    Good luck! Take care of yourself. It's a job, don't let it take over your life!
     
  27. kcbutterfly

    kcbutterfly Companion

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    Aug 12, 2006

    Here's my schedule:
    7:50 - 8:15: Calendar
    8:15 - 9:15: Reading Block (Tier II Literacy Centers/Small Groups)
    9:15 - 9:30: Break (Bathroom and Music and Movement)
    9:30 - 10:30: Reading Block (Tier I/Whole Group)
    10:30 - 11:00: Recess
    11:00 - 11:30: Math
    11:30 - 12:00: Writing
    12:00 - 12:30: Lunch
    12:30 - 1:25: Team Time (Science/Social Studies/Reading First Intervention) - this won't start for a few weeks, right now we are having a rest time
    1:25 - 2:05: Specials
    2:05 - 2:20: Prepare to go home
    2:20: Dismissal
     
  28. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    They are doing centers already??? How is that working????

    Rest time- seems a little long, which could get out of hand. What are they actually doing at that time?
     
  29. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    I would suggest you talk to the other kindergarten teachers about what exactly what they do during this 2 hour time period. Feel them out and see if you could figure out which one has a good handle on their Reading routine. I would then go to the principal and ask to observe this teacher for 2 hours - sit back and take notes.

    I know it is early in the year but maybe you could offer to take a 1/2day personal day to do this. One new kg. teacher offered to do this at my school and the principal thought it was a good idea and let her observe a couple of kg. teachers without using her personal time. Now all new kg. and 1st grade teachers get to observe verteran teachers in action ( they decide what part of the day they would like to observe) for 1/2 a day and more if needed.
     
  30. lovestoteach

    lovestoteach Rookie

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    Aug 12, 2006

    Hang in there! I taught K for the past two years (I just moved to a new school and a new grade level). I have 2 ideas to share about lunch:
    1. Lunch graph - I printed pictures of all the lunch food choices. I put the choices (brown bag for lunch from home, mik carton (for milk only), pizza, or turkey sandwich for example)at the top of a pocket chart. As the kids entered in the morning, they would pass in there BEE folders to me, grab there name and place it on the chart. When it was time to line up for lunch, I would call each choice and line them up that way.
    2. Use wipes to clean their hands before lunch. It is much faster than soap and water.
    Just remember that it takes longer for K kids to learn routines because they have never done it before. Use lots of positive praise for the kids that are doing well. Good luck. If I can help in any way let me know. I may have only taught K for two years, but I have been a teacher for 11.
     
  31. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    As for the 4th grade issue again, I really think that teachers should understand how your students are just adjusting to school. We eat lunch with kindergarten right before us... so we had to stand behind the longest line on Thursday, where the k teacher was showing her students exactly where to walk and what the nametags were for. I smiled and told my line leader to hold on for a minute because he was once in that position, too.
     
  32. tward

    tward Rookie

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    I have been teaching 13 years and for the first 7 or 8 I probably cried the first week (at home in the evenings) I was always so overwhelmed at how immature and unruly my new students were compared to the ones I had just finished with in the spring. I teach fourth grade and it took so long to get them use to how I did things, and what I expected as far as behavior was concerned. I imagine most of us have had tearful moments. The first weeks of school are always stressful. It WILL get better! :)
     
  33. sevenplus

    sevenplus Connoisseur

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    Aug 13, 2006

    On behalf of K teachers, everywhere, THANKS!
     
  34. mrs a

    mrs a Companion

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    Aug 13, 2006

    KC,
    SO many replies to your because you have really hit a soft spot for teachers. A new teacher with a bad first week and someone telling you how to teach. It is tough, but you will find your own way to handle these things. Throughout your day, keep your focus on what can be handled as a classroom job for a student and what you can add or eliminate to make your days easier. If you have a student or two that require more discipline, give them a job that will occupy them during those bathroom breaks, such as wet wipe holder. Kindergarten takes getting used to but it is important to establish expectations first and foremost. They DO NOT hate you. They are just testing the waters. GOOD LUCK and keep us posted on your progress.
     
  35. jeanie

    jeanie Companion

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    Aug 14, 2006

    I think you should try to back off of the reading series for perhaps (at least) this week yet. Go back to teaching routines... lining up... working with supplies, storing supplies, listening quietly, not touching others, cooperation, playing quietly, using inside voices, hand washing, etc. This is standard learning for Kindergarten and it can all be done in a fun and playful way. Model everything. Take time to really talk to the kids and enjoy what is on their minds. Teach the kids by allowing play, doing artwork, writing and or illustrating stories about themselves, singing songs, freely exploring (selected) materials in the classroom. Things are probably frustrating for you because they are frustrated and pressured by the demands placed on them. It's not YOU.
    At the very least right now, take some of that team time in the afternoon and do some sort of art activity. Or simply allow them to play with the things that are in the classroom. You can make observations about children while they are doing these activites if you feel you need to justify it to anyone.
    As for the teacher who reprimanded you for being late... definitely don't worry about that. Only one minute late... even 3 minutes late on the first day would be pretty good for ME! Ahh.. . breathe deeply and know that one day you will be giving advice to some newbie. This week will be better.
     
  36. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    Aug 14, 2006

    I love the support you people offer those that ask for it.
    The lady that said to go to the gym is right on.
    Exercise is a great stress reliever. Epsecially aerobic. Get
    on a machine breathe hard and sweat. Push some weights.
    My best friend, a retired navy vet (male) taught Kind. for
    20+ years. I used to watch him the first few days/weeks
    of school with kindergarten (before the preK days) and wonder
    how he did it. YOU HAVE TO TEACH them everything. I would
    get them for PE just 30 minutes and be amazed at how little
    some knew. K teachers need a bonus just for those first few
    days. Keep your head up and ask for HELP at your school.
    And realize that 5 year olds need lots of help and patience.
    GOod luck. Keep posting and asking.
     

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