I am writing this at the end of July/early August. NOW is when you should go to Wal-Mart and purchase markers, glue, folders, etc. They will never, ever be cheaper anywhere. ever. Go NOW.
Every year I have made name cards with/for the children, and I think it is much more effective if I do them with them. These are just cardstock rectangles glued back-to-back to make them more sturdy, with the child’s photo off to one side and their name in capital letters. On the back side, their name is written ‘the Kindergarten way’. (I’ve found that it creates much more excitement about letters when we learn them first in all capitals. That way when we’re looking at NOAH, Olivia says, “Hey, that’s my letter, too!”) I laminate them with clear contact paper so I’m doing it with the children, and as we assemble it, they are just overjoyed to hold it and show it to their friends. We use them throughout the year to write our own names or our friends’.
No, really. I’m not saying this in the cliche’ kind of way, I’m just remembering that everything my class does – we’re doing it for the first time together. Take today, for example. We’ve been playing with letters, and since the weather was so nice I thought we could go on a little Alphabet Walk around the neighborhood. I always prep the group before we walk anywhere on what it looks like to stay in line, we walk on the sidewalk – not on the grass, ‘Red Light’ means stop your feet, etc. Well, today as I was prepping them I realized that we’ve never been on a walk together, and knew that we would get very little out of the ‘letter’ part of the walk. This walk was just practicing to walk as a group.
It has come to my attention from a couple of peers and new teachers that nobody ever really prepares teachers for the nitty-gritty of being in the classroom. College classes arm you with theory and inspiration and idealism, but there’s no true prep for the stuff that you didn’ think would happen. (Ex: During the story you’re reading your aide is out of the room taking a child to the bathroom and someone throws up all over. Or, Timmy hides under the table every time his father comes to pick him up, and Dad doesn’t do anything about it.) Of course, I realize that nothing except ‘living through it’ can teach you about these situations, but wouldn’t it be nice if you had a clue?
I’m percolating about the best way to address this. Is it a class/workshop for pre-teachers called, “You never thought this would happen, did you?” Where they are given several real-life situations to brainstorm about, the idea being, “What is your plan? Now what is your plan when the first plan completely fails? And your back-up plan for that?”
Should it be a book? Is that too anecdotal? I have to say, I could probably write a book about the angst of teaching preschool, but it would be pretty specific to my situation.
Should this website be more like a blog? I could list things that happen during my day, and perhaps it would be helpful to the stray person who comes across this site? (And you, Lindsey. )
I don’t know. I’m in the trenches – someone who lives it everyday and has come to do certain things out of habit that work for me. I’ve come to realize that making it look easy doesn’t mean that it’s actually easy. It is work. Every day. It exhausts me.
I know that the comments are turned off, but if anyone has a suggestion, I’m open to it.
Each child in our class has a journal. We usually introduce them the second week of preschool. Mine are very simple – cheap (10-20 cent) binder/folders with brads inside to hold blank paper. We label them with the child’s name and picture. (Gotta love that digital camera!) We start off with about 5 blank sheets of paper, and add paper as the year goes on. Last year I started keeping my classroom observations in the back of each folder. I told the children, “The white papers are for you, but the colorful papers are for me to write down when I see you do something great!” (They love that.)
The good part of limiting the number of papers is that it prevents it from geting filled up right away. (Last year I had them help assemble the journals, and in the first day, all the papers had drawings. We went through a bunch of paper.) We keep a date stamper handy, and after they have dictated their story, they stamp the date. (Another thing they love!)
During the day, I jot down notes on a piece of paper (I’ll talk about observations in a seperate post.) During naptime, once they are all finally sleeping, I transfer notes into their journals.