All Alone–in a Classroom with 25 Kindergartners!

wildday
The Question: I have been teaching kindergarten for ten years and have always been lucky enough to have a para in my classroom for at least part of the day.Due to funding this year I will be flying solo. Any words of advice?
The Answers:
Stephanie
Encourage parents to come in and volunteer. You can set up a free webpage on Shutterfly and have a volunteer sign-up that will be emailed to all of your parents.
Donna
Pray
Kimberly
You can do it! Start a routine on day one and stick to it. They will exceed you expectations most of the time. If not, keep the squirrelly ones close! Good luck.
Fran
 Teach the kids how to set up and clean up everything  the first week. Send all prep material home with parents! Set jobs early in the year so you are not doing things they could be doing!
Nikki
 I had a parent come in once a week to make all copies for the upcoming week! Helped a lot!
Kory
 How many students will you have? Know that there are many others in the same boat-I’ll have at least 24 kinders with no aide, and very few parents can volunteer at our school due to their work schedules. Has been that way for the 5 years I have been teaching there.
Stefany
It will take some adjusting, but you can do it! I’m a fairly new teacher in Kindergarten and I don’t have a paraprofessional at all! You’ve got this!
  • Sabrina
     Parent volunteers to help during centers and independent work so you can do small group or one on one time and maybe having bigger kids at school come in as a buddy system. Parents volunteer to prep work (copies, grade papers, file, assemble centers etc). You’ll be amazing. You have 10 years of experience.

Kristen

 I haven’t had a para in two years. Unfortunately, if you can’t do something solo, you just have to let it go. Parents are a good resource. Also, older grade buddies have worked well for me.
Rita
 This is exactly my situation…I am curious to hear everyone’s thoughts. I am thinking already how to increase independence during station time…
Matt
 Teach independence from day one. There will be days when whole group works better than centers. Be ok with that.
Rochell
Procedures routines procedures routines…stick with these things until your class is a well oiled machine that can run itself. Easier said than done but I have seen it work. best of luck to you! I have been there before and this what I wish I would have done better.
Kathy
 Structure and great planning. you’ve got this!!!
Stacy
 Start out the year teaching how to respect their things. Show them how you want things to go. Have the kids own the rules. I have taught K for 7 and I haven’t had one at all. My kids really like to be in charge of their things!
Jennifer
As others have said, teach, model, & practice independence from the very first day. You’ll be amazed just how independent little ones can be. We get about 40 minutes of aide time per day at my school, with an average of 22 kids per year- some years we’ve been as high as 26-28. You can do it!!
Martha
I teach full day so don’t have a lot of parents to help, most work, but I do ask for one parent every day 4 days a week from 8:00 to about 8:15. This works for many on their way to work and they are bringing their child to school anyway. I have a basket on a table outside my room and the kids deposit their homework Tues-Fri in the basket as they come in. I have a Homework folder near the basket. The parent checks in the homework and “corrects” it, then leaves it in the basket for me. Sounds simple but makes a huge difference for me since the homework is every day!
Jennifer
Use parent volunteers as much as you can.. I teach lots of procedures . I also use the daily 5 for my literacy small group and I love it..
Ruth
 My BFF has been teaching Kindergarten for over 30 years–never had a para. I teach across the hall from her and am always amazed at how well structured her classroom is. She rehearses her procedures and expectations repeatedly the first two weeks of school and then less frequently as time goes by. She has a procedure for everything that happens in the class. She RARELY ever has to put a child into “time-out”. Her students continue to contact her many years after they graduate because they loved Kindergarten. You have to be firm, but let them know you care about them. Don’t give them too much freedom—they aren’t old enough or wise enough to handle making too many decisions. Clearly demonstrate and rehearse each station before letting the children use it. Have some pictures on a card to remind them of the procedures at that station. Finally, give frequent praises for children doing the right thing. A lot of this you probably already know—just thought it would be a good reminder to anyone reading it. A well-managed/loved class is a beautiful thing. I teach first grade and am always blessed to receive my friend’s students!
Gretchen
 Lots of chocolate and diet coke!
Lori
 You can do it! I will begin my 3rd year teaching kindergarten after being a K para myself and it can be done and it is not as hard as you may think. The key is classroom management……get those babies independent as much as possible. Lots of structure and make sure they know the rules, procedures, and expectations from day 1! Also, like others have said…..parent volunteers will save you! Take a deep breath…..it is gonna be ok!
Jen
I make sure to point out to the kids that there is one of me and a lot of them so they have to be patient. I have to remind them though… By November they say the patient part for me because they have heard it enough times.  Have parents sign up to come in at certain times you know you’ll need extra hands in the room.
Melissa
 That happened to us several years ago. Just be patient and don’t expect to make the same progress as you did with the para – especially in the beginning of the year. Once your routine is set things will roll right along as if everything is normal. Also, don’t hesitate to ask for help – with a para you could pass off disruptive children for a little one on one but without a para you need to deal with it on your own and 20+ other children. Let your administration know about your struggles manning the classroom on your own. If it is like our district – they didn’t make any cuts in administrative staff so their job won’t feel the effects unless you keep them informed and involved. Good luck!
Karla
 We only have paras for our literacy block which is the first hour of the day. We only have 2 lit paras to share with the whole school so she would often be pulled for something else. I felt like that center was more constructive learning when she was there, but on the days she was gone, I felt my classroom control was better. It was always quieter without that extra teacher led center.

Jennifer

 I have never had a para in my kinder class and have be teaching kinder for 10 years. You just have to establish a routine and rules ASAP. Make sure they know your expectations from the beginning. I practice procedures till they are nauseatingly clear.
Crystal
 I’ve never had a para… teach them the routines and stay organized.
Janice
I haven’t had one at dismissal time for my AM class. I ask the assistant principal to help me with the dismissal the first week of school so the kinders have the routine down.  Also, recruit those parent volunteers!
Mayra
 I’ve taught Kindergarten without an aide. It’s doable. I would also ask for a lot of parent volunteers. Perhaps there’s a parent volunteer center that can make your copies or cut items for you on a weekly basis? If not, set one up and have one school wide.
Jean
I have taught kindergarten for 20 years with no para. Good luck, lots of planning , centers and a very structured discipline plan.
Kelly
 Pray
Suzanne
 Hang in there! I never had a para when I was teaching kindergarten; sometimes had an aide who spent her time between four classrooms, so mostly it was like not having any help. So, as Jennifer said, establish your rules, routines, and procedures right from the get-go and repeat ad nauseum. And sometimes, if you absolutely have to cut corners, do so, as long as their learning isn’t sacrificed, which, of course, it won’t be.
Tona
 Take the first three week and do nothing but teach expectations and routines. You won’t be sorry!
Keesha
 Good luck!  Establish routines and relationships. Tribes is a great resource!
Rebecca
Parent volunteers!!!
Evelyn I have taught for for 20+ years. I must agree with what everyone else says first three weeks teach expectations and procedures. Stay organized and ask parent volunteers.
Denita
 I’ve never had a para in my k classes….station rotations work great and good discipline with lots of routine– good luck!
Heather
 Be thankful for the years you had one. I’ve been teaching for 10 yrs & never had one. The only teachers that get paras in our county are the self contained ESE units. You’ll be fine.
Cindy
 Daily 5!
Lora
 Never had one. You will be fine. Just rethink how you do things.
Deb 
As a K teacher of 30+ years, I agree with procedures & expectations AND you can do it. From time to time I have had some para help, but many times had to train the para & not all helpers follow my expectations. We have been required to do so many one on one assessments & this is where our para-power goes. This year, no paras for testings, so I will go back to “‘old school’….assessing as I teach. HAVE FUN. ENJOY K..it is the best !
Sarah
 Keep it simple. Don’t beat yourself up for not doing “BIG” things more often (cooking, big art projects, etc). You have to be realistic.
Betsy
 Find some reliable parent volunteers to help with “crowd control” so that you can get your testing or guided reading groups done without interruptions.
Lisa Marie
Routines and stay organized!
Pat
 I agree with Betsy. Reliable parents can help with flashcard drill, crowd control during guided reading groups, tracing and a lot of other stuff.
Cheryl
I agree with Lisa Marie! Also teach them what patience and respect are.
Janet
You have a job! I teach private and fly solo and love it. Be organized and teach as a whole, not in parts. Kids learn this old fashioned way too!
Charlene
 I agree with the others…routines, rules and organization. Also, find the students who know how to do the tasks to be the ones the others go to for help doing the task.
Valerie
 I taught pre-k for several years. I had a para. When I went to another grade it was difficult because my para and I were a team. I suggest you get very organized. Rely on YOU and make the best of it. Have a great year!
Carol
 Use parent volunteers. I found that when I lost my para, I ended up knowing my students better because I didn’t rely on anyone else to assess my kids. I also switched to the Daily 5 which built independence structures so I had time for small groups and individual meetings. Embrace the change and it will work.
Dana
 Remember to laugh, see the beauty in each child each day, eat chocolate without guilt. BREATHE!!! Organization is truly the key. I was in K5 for a while and now in K4 for my 3rd year in a row. I never had an aide or anything until last year. It was quite the adjustment for me to learn how to share, not overthink things, and how to trust another person. I wish you lots of good things this year.
Samantha
 I have not had a para for at least 5 years. The hardest thing for me was getting all the testing done on time for all 32 of my students. With Kindergarten being all done one-on-one. I had to teach my students how to do centers quietly. They also got really great at rotating centers that did not have to have a lot of instructions. Good luc– it was hard for me the first year without a para.
Denice
 Thanks everyone, for your advice and words of encouragement. I love kinder and know I can do it, just overwhelmed and worried about those awesome moments the first few weeks of school (tears, wet pants, run aways) ya know–the good stuff!
I keep giving myself pep talks about how well my classes have done in the past. Just tweaking and more rigor on the organization and independence parts of kinder. Good luck to all of you in the upcoming year.
Melissa
Just breathe…it will all be ok. Oh and I will miss being there with you!!!
Debi
l Remember to take a deep breath and count to 10. I used to teach the kids to do it also. On occasion we’d even do it together…
Cindy
 Have a reliable volunteer for certain assessments and have that same Person do it again as well as a few more whole group assessment.  Take a Clipboard with you with all students names and count to make sure you have everyone coming in from recess and other places first few weeks And very important-, Ask for dismissal help first few weeks from a reliable pick up parent or two or title or special Ed teachers as they haven’t started all Their schedules yet and have them come on 15 minutes before to help all get backpacks and lines up where supposed to be. Don’t stress about reading groups for at least first 6 weeks all that will come easily after that
Cindy
I’ve never had a full time assistant. Develop the habit in your students to work independently. Make it clear that when you helping a student or group of students, they need to ask a friend or check a resource in the room that can answer your question. “Ask 3 before me” is a good policy. Have a group that can work on their own, one you can check on occasionally, and one that you can give most of your attention to. In some activities you can pair high flying students with struggling ones–without them even realizing it–and they can get the job done together! Good luck!
Beth
Make friends with the teacher next door.
Nancy
 More + More + More does not = More.
Michele
 I haven’t ever had a para. Here in Utah, we teach big class sizes but we also have parent volunteers who are worth their weight in gold! You’ll do well. Everyone has given great advice!!!
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