10 Truths About Teaching Kindergarten!
1. You have to really want to be a kindergarten teacher. And for that reason alone… those who teach kindergarten usually love it! Call us crazy – but we have a passion for learning basic skills and wiping boogers! We choose this job and trust me, it’s not for the pay! We may seem a little frazzled or kookie sometimes, but they say teaching kindergarten is like herding cats! Can you imagine herding cats?
2. Kindergarten teachers are always on. When you have 25 kindergarteners in front of you, you are always on-stage teaching! Every moment must be filled with a song, a rhyme, a direct instruction with follow-through from me as the teacher. It can be and is often very exhausting! You know when you are having an off day and you just need a moment to regroup? Yeah – we don’t really get those moments as a kindergarten teacher. (We can however use moments like this as a teaching opportunity to model how to deal with life.)
3. In no other grade level will students come in asking for Kool-aid and leave reading. I will never forget little Ray about 7 years ago! He had spent his days prior to kinder with his grandma and so he didn’t quite understand why I would just not give him a glass of Kool-aid every time he asked! He could not hold a crayon, walk in a line, or sit at the carpet when asked to do so. He really was the sweetest boy with the biggest most contagious smile and dealing with these things is our job! In his heart, he wanted to just go with the flow but he had just never been in an environment where he was expected to do things like and so every little thing had to be explained to him. By the end of the year, Ray was reading above grade level! In no other grade level do you see this level of growth by your students and for that I LOVE IT!
4. We don’t play all day. And we don’t nap. We work hard from bell to bell! Nothing worse than telling someone you teach kindergarten and have them think you get to play with kids all day! Doesn’t that sound nice… playing all day? The truth is – many kindergarten classrooms today don’t have very much play in them all! Kitchens, blocks, and dress-up are big no-no’s in many districts! We do, however, find ways to make the academic content seem more like play! We work extremely hard and there is no time for naps!
Now you can order your very own We Don’t Nap #Kindergarten shirt! Great for staff meeting or planning days! Start spreading the message!!!
5. Kinder teachers typically don’t get lunch the first month and a half of school. Nope. We have 25 kids who need to get lunch on their own and most of them have had it served to them their entire lives (understandably so.) Lunch is hard for kinders at first. It’s the first time that most of these kids have been left to do something independently and so that takes training. If you are lucky, your administration will get you the help you need to maybe have a 15 minute lunch, but for the most part you are shoving food in your mouth on your way to pick them up from the playground right after you drop them off for lunch!
6. It’s hard for the kids to remember what we did during the day. This is developmental and normal. We have your students usually 7 hours a day! During this time we teach about 5 full lessons on different topics, go to recess, eat lunch, go to specials, and visit the library. And then there are fire drills, nurse visits, behavior things that come up, and classroom interruptions. The list could go on and on! So your students may not be able to tell you what they did during the day. Considering everything your child did during the day, “what did you do in school today” is a very broad question!
7. Sometimes as a teacher, I can’t keep it all straight myself. I just taught 25 5-year-olds 5 content areas. I hit all my objectives, ran small groups, had active engagement throughout the day, and remembered the schedules of who goes where when. Oh and remember, I missed my lunch because my kiddos still needed help opening their milk cartons. I have read that teachers make over 1500 decisions a day. It’s exhausting. That being said, just being honest, I may not remember every little detail of the day when put on the spot! I might have to stop and think about it. It’s not because it’s not important, it’s because we deal with a lot each and every day! Since we are being completely truthful here, my downfall is always who went home which way and how. And then you add another person’s class in that mix. Oh my goodness! (Don’t hate on me… I know my areas and so I have a clipboard and it may take a few extra minutes but it will get done!)
8. After school I need to regroup. You just read the above two, now do you see why we need to regroup? After school what is best for me is to sit in my quiet room at my table and just reflect. I put some things away, I make my notes for what I need to document and just process everything that happened. I don’t turn people away if they have questions or concerns at that time, but in my perfect world, I would get this moment to collect my thoughts before taking on this part of my job.
9. Yes my kids are cute… but I have to teach them to read! Yes, I know they are cute, but they are also really smart and have real needs. Saying a child is cute is not OK in my book when talking about anything related to school. Just always hits a sore spot when another teacher walks by and says “oh they are so cute.” Just makes me feel as if my job is not equal to what the other grades do. Especially if we are talking about getting services for an IEP – is that really all you can come up with?! Just. Not. Professional. Or. Appropriate.
10. Play is and can be academic but many kindergartens don’t have it anymore and that is sad! Many kindergarten classrooms don’t play anymore (whether it be for their own personal beliefs of those of their principal or district.) It seems as if when we stated “racing for the top” and added Common Core standards we really lost sight of what is developmentally appropriate for children our age! Movement, song, dance, projects, and overall vibrance are all ways to actively engage and essential for teaching students our age. But for some reason, some teachers feel that doing an art project about a concept is not rigorous enough of an activity. So many opt for worksheets or whole group lessons where direct instruction is the strategy. Kindergarten students (all students really) need to create meaning for the concepts and that is not done through the teacher speaking and worksheets! And I am not saying those two methods are bad and surely not saying they don’t have a place in kindergarten classrooms because they do. But what I am saying is they should be used at appropriate times and balanced with developmentally appropriate practices. We can have our cake and eat it too when it comes to rigor!
Thank you to The Kindergarten Connection for hosting this fun and much needed linky party. Hop on over and see what other teachers truths are about teaching our little ones!
What are your truths about teaching kindergarten? Share and comment below!