Was a New Kg Teacher but Crashed and Burned

Discussion in 'Early Childhood Education Archives' started by KindergartenCop, Dec 5, 2004.

  1. KindergartenCop

    KindergartenCop Rookie

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    Dec 5, 2004

    Hi There!

    I was a new teacher in Kindergarten this past August. I was not well prepared for the classroom and I ended up resigning. I did NOT enjoy a single day I was there because I was never able to do the things I thought I should be doing.
    Two points:
    1. all of the other K Team members (including grade chair) were brand new.
    2. When I mentioned that I only had a rocking chair for house keeping I was told that we would be "De-emphasizing play and Focusing on Academics." :eek: (I am still stunned by that remark, but I'd like to focus on what I need to do to get back in the classroom - Read on, that topic is for later)

    Looking back I realize that I was not teaching to the students at their level (i.e. 5 year olds). I felt ENORMOUS pressure to complete assessments, teach rules, and get three mixed ability reading groups *fully* functional by week 3. My principal felt I did not have "good classroom management" so I was sent to training. But really, I could control the class, I just did not seem to be able to keep their attention during lessons. (So the started to "act up" because they were 5 years old and bored.) I am substituting until a new position opens up.

    This is my second career. I was a Geographer in my previous life. I can't take a year off and go back to school. (An MS in Early Childhood Education would be nice but I still have to support my family.) I can substitute in intermediate (4th and 5th) and I do well, but I *REALLY* want to teach in Kdg. The children and class environment are so rewarding to work with.

    So my question is, how can I prepare myself for teaching Kindergarten? Are there online resources / classes available? What would work or wouldn't work? A friend of mine is going to let me observe her in her Kdg classroom next week. Does anyone have any other suggestions? :confused:

    Thanks

    Mike
     
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  3. sandimreyes

    sandimreyes Comrade

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    Dec 5, 2004

    I'm so sorry to hear that you had such a terrible experience. Kindergarten is the toughest grade to teach, but it is also the most rewarding and can be a magical experience for the teacher and students, when it works.

    There is NOTHING that will completely prepare you for Kindergarten, but there are a few resources that may help. There are tons of kindergarten sites on the web. Go to www.google.com and type in "kindergarten" and then browse through the sites. You will have more information than you will ever be able to take in, but sort through and decide what you like and take that with you.

    Next, there are a few different good workshops out there that you can go to, provided you are willing to spend the money. I highly recommend the "I Teach K" conferences put on by SDE. I just attended the 2 day FL conference and they are terrific. The speakers are all Kindergarten teachers or have worked with K age children, and ALL the teachers are K teachers. Just the networking alone makes it worth it. Here is a link for you:


    SDE

    Third, try volunteering in local Kindergarten classes on days when you are not subbing. If you are lucky enough to sub every day, then be sure to make friends with the K teachers in the buildings where you sub and pop into those classes on your breaks and after school. Ask them questions, note how the classes are set up, and get some good ideas.

    Lastly, you will need to accept the fact that what you experienced is happening everywhere. We are all being asked to downplay the play and focus on academics. We are all required to hold reading groups and the students are expected to be reading when they leave Kindergarten. We ALL know that we are asking too much of them and that much of what we do is not at ALL developmentally appropriate. Unfortunately, it is not Kindergarten teachers that are setting the rules! :(

    There are a couple of tricks that I can pass on to you. I hope you find them helpful. Although we are all under a lot of pressure and we are all being held to similar standards, different administrators take different approaches to running a school and managing teachers. My principal is terrific. He makes it clear that we are to adhere to certain guidelines and use certain county-adopted series, but that's as far as he goes. As long as those specific things are incorporated into the day, and the state standards are being taught, he leaves us alone to do it in our own way. This is the kind of administrator you want. In order to get them to respect you, though, you need to be able to justify everything you do in your room with state standards and benchmarks.

    That said...

    Academics can be fun! The key is to integrate things the best way that you can. Want to teach sight words? Put them on big pieces of paper and index cards. Have students draw out an index card and jump to the sight word as they say it. This combines the movement that 5 year olds need with a reading activity. Want to teach left to right directionality? Develop games where the students move themselves or objects in that manner. As long as they are practicing left to right, they are working on a reading skill, even if no words or letters are involved! You can have students sort words and letters by so many different rules. This is math and reading together, but they think it's a game! The bottom line is that you will have to be very creative in order to get their 5 year old brains to learn the higher level skills, but it CAN be done and your students CAN have fun and behave and LEARN at the same time.

    Good luck!
     
  4. mccwen

    mccwen Comrade

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    Dec 6, 2004

    Mike,

    I, too, am sad to hear you did not have a good experience teaching kindergarten the first time around. Speaking as a former 4th grade teacher, I never would have thought I would love teaching kindergarten. My first year was also a difficult one. I had a challenging class and it was difficult for me to make the transition from 4th to K. I stuck with it and now after 5 years I'm finally comfortable with the curriculum and all the heavy expectations that are placed on our shoulders. I understand the demands you are talking about. I teach 2 half-day sessions- just 2.5 hrs per session- and my children are expected to read 25-50 words by the end of the year. We have a reading program and I also do reading groups. I know I'm asking a whole lot from my kids and constantly thank them and praise them when they rise to the challenge.

    I'm also sorry your administration wasn't very supportive. I think that is a key piece to having a sucessful year. I agree that volunteering in a kindergarten class is a good idea. Find someone who is a veteran teacher who really has their day run like clockwork. Remember that no teacher starts out with a classroom like that. It takes years before teachers really feel comfortable with their teaching style, curriculum, and even the kids.

    Volunteering will also help you to see if it's' really for you. Maybe even a different grade level might work better for you. Just give it some time.

    Good luck,
    Wendy
     
  5. teacherkasey

    teacherkasey Cohort

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    Dec 6, 2004

    It sounds like the reason for your "crash and burn" was not yourself or anything you were doing but the administration and lack of support you were receiving. It sounds like you were on the right track with what you were doing and you sound so enthusiastic about working with Kindergarten children. I wouldn't give up that dream, however, I would try to find another school/district to work in. I know,easier said than done, but to save your sanity you need to stay away from the school you were in.

    I got some great advice from someone on this board about the questions to ask during an interview to see if you will be working in a supportive, stable environment.
    First, ask about the other grade team members. How long have they been there? How much experience do they have in KG?... If they are new to the school or the grade it might indicate a high turnover rate which may in turn mean a lack of support from administration and a not so great environment to work in.

    Second, ask what of support you will receive as a new teacher in the school. Will you have a mentor or someone you can go to with questions or concerns? What resources or other support does the school offer to new (and tenured) teachers?...

    If I can think of anything else I'll try to post them later if you think it would be helpful...
     
  6. KindergartenCop

    KindergartenCop Rookie

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    Dec 6, 2004

    I wouldn't give up that dream

    I never give up. The Marines taught me that.

    Retreat is Not an Option.


    Thanks for the support and ideas.
     
  7. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Dec 6, 2004

    Where in South Florida are you?
     
  8. MisterG

    MisterG Comrade

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    Dec 7, 2004

    I hear ya. I am a new teacher...first year...graduated this spring and was teaching fourth until I was surplused and ended up going to Kindergarten...which I had no experience with. I had a hard time adjusting...and sometimes still am. I can feel it taking its toll on me as I am stressed more than I should be...but I look at what my fourth graders are doing now...which is much more than they would be doing if I was with them...so I am happy in that sense. Even though I didnt really know what to do when I came down here...I completely changed the class around from being unstructured...to much more structured. I basically lay down the law and the students must listen to me. Teachers and parents have complimented me and my class on how much they have changed. While I still dont know what is expected of them by the end of the year...I am working day by day to help them learn.

    I had some parents, that sounded like your principal...they said they felt their children werent learning anything in the classroom. My room is an exact replica of a veteran K teacher next door and I do mostly the same things she does. That alone doesnt mean they are learning...but this is Kindergarten. The students arent freakin supposed to know advanced nuclear thermodynamics...but they need to know the procedures. That is what I am learning (Im learning too) K is alot about.....procedures. For them...they havent been in a classroom setting...if they have...its been in a preschool which still isnt as structured as K...so there is lots of time to adjust. K is about procedure, and behavior...and getting them ready for 1st grade. Back to what those parents said. I told them everything we do and are going to do this next trimester...I explained to them the centers and how they work...and that their child is learning...and I really had a good time pointing out the unifix pattern block train that her daughter was making on the floor and saying "see...she is making a pattern, which is what I want her to do and what she is supposed to do...and on that note...we will be making patterns using our calendar as well. While they learn alot here at school...its a combination of both home and school that will be the most effective. Also...just because it looks like they arent learning...that doesnt mean they are not. You can look and see them playing...but I look at the magnet center and see them putting simple words together...I look at the library center and see them starting to understand the basics of a book and how to read, I see them in the blocks center as they put patterns together to make wonderful mosaics. I see them listening at the listening center and following along with a book. I see them in the art center making an art project...the thinking center having to use thier brains...and the writing center where they have to practice their letters and drawing." That basically shut them up.

    I dont know what that principal was thinking...but the academics are learned in K through play.

    I am enjoying it...and I know the kids are...despite the fact that I can be rather stern with them...they still come and give me hugs.
     
  9. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    Dec 9, 2004

    Don't give up! I never thought that I would teach kindergarten, but I love it!! Unfortunately, with NCLB, the curriculum is developmentally inappropriate part of the time.

    When you can volunteer in different kindergarten classrooms. See what they are doing.

    When you interview for positions try & meet the administrator that you would be working with. Can you work that person? Do they have a mentoring program? What is their curriculum like?

    When you do get in the classroom you need to be strict for the first 6 weeks. Think before hand about the procedures you will need, visualize them in your mind & when you get the kids practice, practice, practice. That may be all that you really accomplish the first couple of weeks, but then, if you remain consistent, it will pay off.
     
  10. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    Dec 10, 2004

    Don't ever give up on the dream to teach. However, keep an open mind to the grade level. When I graduated I wanted 1 or 2 (my certification is 1 - 8 so K wasn't an option). I ended up student teaching in 3rd and the job I was offered was in 4th. I took it with the understanding that if a 1 or 2 job came up I would be offered it. I never looked back. 4th is my place. When I got here and started teaching I realized that I had found the perfect grade for me. Maybe through the subbing you will find that there are other grades that reach you, or you may find that K is definitely the place for you. Take the opportunity to find out. Sub in K classes in other schools. That would give you a feel of how the programs work in those schools.
    Good luck!!
     
  11. KindergartenCop

    KindergartenCop Rookie

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    Dec 10, 2004

    Broward County ;)
     
  12. KindergartenCop

    KindergartenCop Rookie

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    Dec 10, 2004

    Thanks,

    It is very clear that I am a teacher. I can't imagine doing anything else. I have subbed in all grades from PreK - 12 & Adult Ed. I love teaching in the primary grades. (K - 3) And I've thought alot about 'to K' or 'not to K' and I do like other grades in Primary. But every time I look at the activities in Kindergarten, from the lessons to the hugs to the way the children overreact to someone cutting in line :eek: I realize that I just love teaching Kindergarten and working with 5 year olds.

    Teaching is, in one way, just like any other job. Deadlines, pressure, unreasonable demands, weird co-workers (none of you all, of course) ;) The thing that separates it from other professions, for me, is the Teacher-Student relationship. I've never had that before. It's different than my own kids (I have 2 daughters) or my friend's kids. Its really a neat thing to be able to interact with and reach these children.

    Thanks for all of the replies.
     

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