Advice for a Beginning K Teacher

The Question:
A brand new K teacher needs your help:  I will be starting my first year of teaching in Kindergarten, and I’m lost. I don’t know how to even start the school year. What things do you do the first couple of days?
When do you start doing centers? What do you do for classroom management?
The Answers:
Mrs. Tidewater 
You want to review rules and expectaions using scenarios and modeling a lot. Many call them teachable moments.
Emily
Get the book “The First Six Weeks of School”. It helps me sooo much every year.

Jamie

You MUST read The First Six Weeks of school! This is one of my favorites and I reread parts every year!

Lorna

I always tell new teachers that the first few weeks are procedures, procedures, procedures. You can’t assume the kids know how to do the things you expect. I don’t do centers at the beginning until we’ve learned other routines. Then I teach them how to do centers. Take it slow!!

Lisa

Make it fun.  Demonstrate everything! It’s very exhausting, but remember it’s new for you and the students and the quicker you start a routine the better. Good luck!

Susan

Lean on your teammates! They’ll “carry” you. The first couple of days are basically about procedures, procedures, procedures. A very typical first day are activities all around The Kissing Hand and Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten. If you Google it, you’ll find many ideas. Also name activities. Deanna Jump and Mrs Wills Kindergarten have many good Back-to-School units, as do many other teachers on TpT.

Jamie

 Remember: model, model, model, practice, practice, practice. You must model every expectation and they must have time to model and practice. Every expectation including how to pack up cubby, how to push in chair, how to walk to the rug, how to sit on rug, how to take care of supplies, books… Introduce one new item each day. The easiest is crayons and paper. When I introduce my classroom library, I introduce only a few book boxes at a time. The library doesn’t “open” until all boxes have been introduced and the kids have shown they know how to take care of books. Take it slow! You won’t regret it.

Becky

Getting to know each other and the school. Read Pete the Cat and search for him on campus. Teachers pay teachers has a great unit for that. The Kissing Hand book and unit are great too.

Jessica

 I play a game so everyone can learn each other’s name, talk about rules and expectations and show them what to do. For example if you’re going to be lining up to go somewhere (to the bathroom, outside, etc) you can say “this is how we get in line, when you hear this song you do this and stand like this (model it and practice what to do a couple of times). I don’t start centers the first week of school…If you’re going to have centers, what I like to do is first take them around to each center and talk about how to use the center and what the materials are and how to properly use them. Then you can eventually have kids practice what to do after you model it (ex: how to choose a book from the library shelf, turning the pages nicely and sitting quietly , and returning the book back to the shelf , instead of just letting it sit on the floor). Basically a lot of modeling and practice, and you can always have limited centers with a few materials and gradually build up to having them in full swing. You might find this book helpful:

Classroom Routines That Really Work for Pre-K and Kindergarten: Dozens of Other Routines That Set the Stage for Children’s Literacy & Help Them Feel At Home in the Classroom

Terrie

Don’t rush into “teaching curriculum” too soon. Laying a good foundation for behavior and procedures will pay off in the long run. Over plan short, fun activities. Lots of dancing and singing (Jack Hartman and Dr. Jean are must have CD’s) I always do a one up then one down activity. Their attention span will be very short so don’t expect them to sit for long. Name games are a fun thing to start the year with too. If you haven’t checked out Teachers Pay Teachers yet you should. Tons of ideas–some free others very reasonable. Have FUN

Missy

 Have faith in yourself! Respect, authority, compassion, humor, knowledge of child development, patience…these will carry you! First day story: “Have You Filled a Bucket Today?” by Carol McCloud. This is a message that will be important to you and your kids all year!

Amanda

First, breathe and remember you were hired for this position because others believe in you! Get the First Six Weeks of School (very easy read). The first weeks should focus on procedures, rules, modeling, team/community building. Remember, you can’t do everything, so focus on what’s most important (The First 6 Weeks will help with that). Good luck! It is one of the most rewarding school years!

Amy

Yep, I concur – LOTS of lessons on procedures. You’ll feel like you’ve done nothing but talk at them the first few days, but it’s a must. And have a behavior management system ready to use! I plan for lots of fun name activities and try to make sure they have something to take home from school on day one. Be enthusiastic and fun and you’ll keep them right where you need them to be. Best wishes to you!

Susan

 Don’t forget to teach unpacking upon arrival procedures, and bathroom, snack time, lunchroom procedures… Recess rules too! Can’t do it all in one day! The first day, students usually can’t wait to go to play centers. I let them do play centers near the end of the day. They need time to interact with each other and start bonding. You want to create a classroom family in order to nurture that sense of belonging.

Kathrene

 When we say teach procedures do you know what we mean? Basically explain carefully, as you illustrate the steps on a white board. Model the good way to do it, then a bad way, then the good way. have a couple of children model also. Then have a child or small group do it. As they are doing it you verbalize all the things they are doing that you want them to be doing, this teacher talk is important. Thus you have addressed visual, auditory, and kinetic learning of each procedure.

Melissa

 The best info for how to start centers comes from the Debbie Diller books. She has one on Literacy Workstations and one for math stations as well. Focus a lot on procedures. Talk about how you want them to do everything they do for at least the first month.

Dawn
Congratulations and welcome to kindergarten, the very best place to start your teaching career.  A good place to start is by reading Kindergarten in Photographs by Jasmine Greene and check out the Responsive Classroom’s website and resources. You can’t go wrong using these techniques.
Danielle
 When I begin centers I pick 4 play centers (play dough, blocks, a coloring page, etc). Before we play, I have a group stand by a center and I set a timer. When it goes off I show them how to travel to the next one. Then, we sit down and compete our activity and I set the timer. Once it goes off, we stop, clean up, and travel safely to the next one. I have arrows on the floor to show which way to go. I have baskets at each center for completed work and my students have their own pencil boxes with all of their materials. I hope that helps!
Jennifer
 Routines routines routines- did I mention routines? It will take at least a week to teach expectations!
Elise
Check out “Dr. Jean’s” website.http://www.drjean.org/. She has lots of cute songs and activities and much of it is free. The little ones love songs for transitioning. Also join www.Pinterest.com It’s free and you can search for ” beginning of kindergarten “and find lots of free ideas to download.
Denise
You have to act like they know nothing! Teach each and every little step. Flexibility, patience! A good night’s rest. Because it’s not just the kiddos you contend with. It is all the changes back and forth you get from everywhere else. Parents need things. The office needs things. It’s a crazy time of the year! But I love it! I wouldn’t teach ANYthing else!
Stephanie
Routines, routines, routines! The first few days are all about procedures, routines, expectations, etc. I also do a Colors unit/Names unit the first 2 weeks. It’s easy and fun for most of them, and it gets the kids used to full-day Kindergarten. Our district has half-day pre-K, and I always hear “I’m tired” and “I want to go home” by 10:30:)
Stephanie
First few days should be routine and procedures down to the simplest of task (sitting in the chair and coloring, how to line up, bathroom procedures, etc) Do not assume they know how to go ANYTHING!!!  I introduce centers a few at a time with the other children sitting at tables with manipulatives or a simple activity such as coloring. Harry Wong and Debbie Diller are wonderful resources.
And most important- – their attention span is less than 5 minutes!! Plan for a quick 5-7 minute activity then get them up and moving or on to something else.
The first few days of kindergarten are exhausting even to the most seasoned teacher. A wise teacher once said Teaching Kindergarten is like trying to herd cats.
Good luck and HAVE FUN!!! I love K!!!
Jamie
At my school, we have three full weeks and then our county fair happens and we are out for a week. Those first three weeks are basically just routine and procedure! Some say act like they know nothing, but that’s because most of them really don’t know how to do anything (procedure wise). They have to be taught how to stand in a line and stay in their seats, how to go to lunch, recess rules, how to play with each other, having a time frame… I always forget what it’s like at the beginning! It can be overwhelming but they learn quickly!
Crystal
 Routines. routines, routines. Practice, practice, practice. Assume they know nothing. Be prepared to have children who do not know even the most basic things- how to hold a pencil, how to stand in line, etc. The centers and groups and stuff will come after a couple to a few weeks.
Ronda
Yes!! Establish routines and expectations! You must teach them everything!! They are a blank slate—you are starting at the very beginning. Start with colors, recognizing names, letters, and numbers/counting, school themes, families. You will have a blast but be exhausted at first. You will love it!!
Lori
Rules, procedures, and routines at least the first 2 weeks. The first day we play name games and I read The Kissing Hand and a book like No David!  To discuss rules memorable to take home the first day. The first week is all about teaching them “how to do school.”
Ann
I wrote a blog post giving my step by step report of the first day of kindergarten. http://annspencer-annspencer.blogspot.com/2012/07/first-day-of-kindergarten.html It also links to a wonderful Pinterest linky about the subject. I alaso have another blog post about my to-do list to get ready for the first day. I think it would be helpful

Aimee

 Read The First Days of School by Harry K. Wong – it really helped me!
Deann
The first few days are like trying to corral kittens!! You will repeat things over and over in order to try and establish routines, but have fun and be happy doing it and the students will respond! I also make a painted handprint on the first day of school after reading the Kissing Hand. We give red heart stickers out at a meet the teacher night to the parents and they give the sticker to their child on the first day of school. The sticker then goes on the handprint when its dry. The parents appreciate that as much as the kids.
Elaine
I agree with Deann. You are only beginning the process. You need to remember they are just pre-schoolers when you first meet them. Your job is to teach them all about kindergarten. Where is everything? How do things run? Make a list of what a new person to your classroom needs to know and then use the first weeks to teach that over and over and over again. Role play and model. Talk about behavior expectations and working together. I highly recommend Pinterest for some great ideas. Whole Brain Teaching is wonderful. This will be my 23rd year teaching kinder and every year is new and exciting. Enjoy!
Joan
 Move s-l-o-w-lllll-yyyyyyy. My students usually draw a first day of school picture. The rest of the time is spent getting to know the routines, and getting familiar with centers etc.
Jennifer
All of these are good ideas. You need to teach them how to color… How to cut… How to use glue. I never did centers early it was free time. Time to play. ( you have to teach them how to clean up too!!!). Lots of walls around the building to practice walking in line. Have songs ready to sing and dance to so you can get the wiggles out. And remember… You will be doing good if you get done 1/4 of what you thought you would!
Janet
 Be real with them. Tell then you are nervous and hoping to make new friends. Have a lot of easily accessible activities available, that will provide a way into the classroom, that they know how to do. Assume they know a lot, tell them that you know they are already very smart, and that this year you’ll all be learning together. Look into a book from Harvard’s Project Zero, using Gardner’s work, and Making Learning Visible using Reggio Emilia, and then think about using the children’s knowledge and your curriculum together to build a year of work together. Create some practical life activities, (Montessori) that will fill the need for skill development. I have a coffee grinder, hand cranked, with a container for beans, one for the grounds and a beautiful tray it all sits on. The child carries the tray to a table, removes the grinder, adds the beans, grinds away, and loves the whole process. It engages the eyes, they hear the grinding, smell the coffee, and feel the resistance of the grinder. It’s for one or two to do together, so it teaches patience, team work and if you are up for it, my kids even make a coffee for guests, or me, through a French press and a kettle.
Pre-assemble many little books of paper, covers from wallpaper, or scraps, and a stapler. Have them handy in the writing center. Have many word cards available for writing. Have a set of 45 (1-9) or 55 (1-10) identical items available so in Math, you show them how to place a number one card, and put one thing below it, a 2 card and two items, etc all the way to ten. This way you can easily assess who can do it, if they are right or left handed, who knows to recognize their numbers, and who has focus, or stamina to go to ten. Have them work alone or in pairs to complete the task.
Sing, sing, sing, and have a lot of little poems and songs to pull out of your pocket, when ever you can. They will respond to these. Read a lot of stories, whenever you can so that you can gather them together, assess who has the ability to listen, who fidgets, who has interest and who does not.
Have a gluing and cutting exercise, with scraps, free form so that you can see who can cut, who cannot, and how they use glue.
Each time you look at them, look at them with love, and patience. It will get you much farther than sternness or fear. If anger and punishment worked, we’d all be fixed for life, but alas, it does not. One little boy in my class that needed a lot of attention and sought it through naughty behavior, So I said his name tenderly at least 20 times a day. Another child asked ” why do you keep saying Jonathan’s name?” I said “because he’s new here, and I want him to know I care about him, I love him and I’m here to support him.” Both he and Jonathan accepted that, and Jonathan stopped acting out so much, right after that.
Trust your self, and manage your class with humble confidence. Often when I need to intervene, I say something like…Oh I see you need my help here. What can I do to help you? Can I sit you somewhere else to best help you? Do you think you can do this by yourself or do you need me to help you, friend.
Good luck and remember that you are learning too. Mistakes are pathways to success.
Carla
You will do great! Don’t overwhelm your kiddos or yourself by throwing too much at them at once. Keep it simple and introduce things slowly. Even with supplies! Give them a small box of crayons and pencil to start. I wouldn’t even give out scissors until you have modeled a good bit because some of those babies will come to you not even knowing how to hold them! I also wouldn’t introduce centers the first week or so then bring them in slowly, one per day at the most. Last but not least, practice procedures until you are sick of them. It will be worth it in the long run! Best of luck!
Peggy
 Routines are key, you need to teach them how to line up correctly, how to walk in the hall, etc. I use the clip chart for classroom management (google ‘clip up and down chart’)
Linda
We start out by getting to know our students. See what they know and what they like. Then start centers the end of first week or beginning of second. Hope this helps . I’m the classroom aide in kindergarten.
Keesha
 Tribes!!!
Miss Night’s Marbles
 In my usual style, I’m going to fly in the face of most comments, and say: LET THEM PLAY for as much time as you possibly can in the first few weeks. Set up a variety of familiar, open-ended activity centers (play dough, bead-stringing, lego, trains, dollhouse, puzzles, drawing, etc), and let them have at it. While they play, circulate through the room, observing their skills (coloring, drawing, cutting, writing, building, story-telling, planning), their interactions (conflict resolution, problem-solving, cooperation, turn-taking, sharing), and their personalities. Yes, teach routines, yes, teach procedures, but don’t drill & kill the poor kiddos on “how to line up.” Your first priorities are to get to know your students, and to ensure that their first school experience feels positive, fun, and safe. Expect to be TIRED the first few weeks (they will be tired, too!). Be gentle with them and yourself. Sing lots of songs. Read lots of stories. Do lots of dancing. Get to know the kids – they will tell you what they need.
Marcy
 Building community and routines. I love The First Six Weeks of School. Also (from my personal experience), its critical you talk about bathroom procedures FIRST THING. We do lots of name games, songs, and activities. The Responsive Classroom is a great resource for establishing routines and building community. Good luck and welcome to the wonderful world of kindergarten! There’s nothing else like it!!!
Lydia
Procedures, procedures, procedures
Lydia
 Think about what you want them to do when they come in in the morning, what do you want them to do when they come to the carpet, how do you want them to line up, how do you want them to walk down the hall…etc…. then think about how you are going to get them to do that… do you want to make up a song about lining up, etc…. go through your schedule in your mind over and over of what you want it to look like and feel like… then figure out how to explain it to them.. go over it again and again so that you have the schedule in your brain. After two weeks of keeping them on a schedule they should become used to it.
Deb
I agree with Jennifer! You need to start slowly..you need to teach them how to sit in a chair, hold a pencil, etc. You need to introduce materials they will be using and introducing them to routines…how to walk in the hallway, bathroom expectations, etc. Spend the first week just getting to know your kids with activities like printing name and counting letters in their name; long and short names; colors; and basic writing skills. We start our school year before Labor Day but don’t start with the Reading Curriculum until after Labor Day! Good luck! Message me if you need ideas or worksheets!
Suzanne
Where did you go to school??? Ever have to read Harry Wong? Get his book(s) and read, read, read. Do exactly as he says. Sounds to me like you got ripped off by your school. Good luck! HARRY WONG! HARRY WONG! HARRY WONG!  Play is great and NECESSARY, but you have to do it all within rules and procedures or you might never get them (students) back!
Mary
 I agree 100% with Miss Night – make sure they is lots of PLAY time for the kiddos. Teaching routines is very important and I highly recommend The First Six Weeks of School book, however don’t be so focused on teaching the routines that you lose sight of the fact that they are little children who need to play, have fun, and feel safe. Good luck!
Jamie
Read the book “I Teach Kindergarten”. It was my kindergarten bible! Covers everything!
Deborah
Model & practice how to do everything! Have students draw a first day self portrait – then another at the end of the year to compare. Teach routines, reteach & explore materials!
Patty
 Play is important. It’s how kids work things out and process. It develops self regulation which is huge. Do routines, but let them play. They are 5!
Matthew
 “No significant learning happens without significant relationships” – Comer Build those relationships with play and fun as has been suggested. Everything else falls into place after that.
Tracy
 Rules for classroom (acted out of course), exploration of room(computer, house area, legos, blocks…) they need time to check it all out so that they are not asking all the time when do we get to, color words and shapes.
Julie
Rules, routines, rules, routines, rules, routines….you get the drift. Open up centers slowly and go over how to use each one and how to put things back where they belong. Model appropriate behavior and inappropriate behavior. Create a list of rules–with your students coming up with the rules. Write the list in a positive format, eg, “Raise your hand” as opposed to “No calling out.” Have them create self-portraits of themselves.
Matthew
 Also rules and rewards are overrated. The only rule in my class is “be brave” and I don’t use ANY rewards http://mattbgomez.com/reward-free-year/
mattbgomez.com
Joyce
Take the children on a tour of the school; introduce them to the custodian, secretary, principal, etc.
Stacy
 Read The Kissing Hand! Search online for lots of art/activities to go with it!!
Jean
Check kindergarten teachers on pinterest. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the other K teachers in your system. I’d be happy to help if you want to contact me!
Buena
 I see lots of comments about procedures and rules and that is absolutely correct! Another thing…allow yourself the time to talk about and enforce the procedures at every step. For example, don’t wait till the last minute to line up for lunch…you might find yourself rushing and not enforcing the correct procedure just to get there on time. The same is true for the end of the day. If they DO line up quickly, just say “That was GREAT! Let’s sit down and do it again!” Oh….and over plan. Don’t expect to get everything done…but there is nothing worse on the first day, than to run out of things to do! Activities you don’t get done today will keep until tomorrow. (And if they won’t, be sure to do those first!)
Sarah
 You will do great and it will go by FAST! Definitely practice procedures and routines like pushing in chairs, where things go, go on a classroom tour and show them around. You can do a school tour too (bathrooms, office and nurse’s office are most important to know!) SHOW THE BATHROOM FIRST! Establish how you want them to ask to go to the bathroom, I have them use sign language and they catch on quickly. If you don’t show them where the bathroom is and how to ask to go then they may be too afraid to ask later and you may have an accident on your hands . Also have some easy fun coloring sheets to ease them into working with markers and model to CLOSE them when they are done lol. I also read the Kissing Hand too and they usually like it and we do an activity too that connects to the book. I also do some fun songs of Dr. Jean and others to make things light and fun. Centers I start the second or third week after I get a feel of the class but the centers are very fun and free at first. I do kitchen, blocks, unifix cubes, etc. and we practice how to MOVE from center to center and how you STAY at your center until it is time to switch. After a week or two of this I start adding worksheets and more specific subject led activities. I have them hand in their work too from centers so I know who is working and who is either not managing their time well or just goofing around. Good luck! No worries you get the hang of it after awhile and just remember to be PATIENT…that is something I still try to keep in mind and I am going into my fifth year of K! Be patient with them and they will get it and your classroom will run so smoothly once all those routines are in place
Sarah
 KEEP IT SIMPLE. They have to learn the structure of the day before you worry about the “work” they are doing. The routines, staying in their group, at their table, in line, staying with the one activity they are working on at that time–that is their “work” for a long time. Don’t worry about curriculum for as long as you need to get them used to staying where you want them to stay! Also physical boundaries help…tape on the floor showing the boundaries of the playhouse area, a certain rug for block play, tape around your desk that they can’t cross, etc. Also I assign everything. Even after 20 years I don’t do “choice” time…they rotate daily to their play area. It just works for me. Don’t be hard on yourself either. If you aren’t ready to open the playhouse, deal with homework, do any rotations or small groups, then DON’T! You have to be ready. It takes time to establish routines. There’s no hurry! K kids are very nervous about getting their turn, so I have systems in place so they know they’ll get a turn (Monday is red row’s turn to share sentences…the child of the day who does ALL my jobs that day goes alphabetically, so they always know when their turn is coming…I go around the table to answer questions and I keep track of who had the turn last….) They need to know things are fair or they will fall apart. It’s a wonderful grade, you will love it, after the first few exhausting weeks!!! You Tube has lots of wonderful K teachers explaining their classroom systems.
Alyssa
Start with routines and incorporate centers a little at a time as you model and show them how to appropriately use them. Intro, explain rules/ how to use, model, guided practice together, then allow 5-10 minutes of independent use.
Susan
Read “The Kissing Hand” while parents are still in the room, supply them with heart stickers to put on their child’s hand before they leave their child for the day.
Maggi
 Rules, routines, and procedures for EVERYTHING! You will want to model and practice all day, each and every day. During the first two weeks, I concentrate on getting to know each other and establishing a sense of community. I want my students to feel like they belong to a school family so that they know that they can trust me and each other. On day one, you need to have a schedule of what to do and stick with the schedule. As a kindergarten teacher of many years, I know this is difficult to do on the first day, but by following a schedule, you are teaching them structure and routine for the classroom environment. They have to learn what to do and when to do it. Be simple, concise, and consistent. I introduce all portions of our day on the first day in fun ways. When I introduce literacy station time, I only introduce one fun literacy activity and we all do the same station until we have mastered what to do, how to do it, and how to put everything back in its place. Then we learn another station so we have 2 stations going, and so forth. Again…structure, rules, routines, and procedures, and establish a sense of belonging and togetherness…you don’t have to be a drill sergeant either, just be nice, calm, and approachable and the students will love you!
Jennifer
 STRUCTURE AND ROUTINE !!! If it takes lining up 15 times before they don’t run and talk then do it 15 times !! Practice going to centers and how to stay at the center….stay 5 min. then come back to carpet do something else…then try centers again for a longer time period….the minute there is something you don’t like about behavior STOP and go back and discuss it.
Sheri
 Rules and procedures are a must.
Cindy
 Besides the rules and routines, do some Welcome to Kindergarten type activities, have them draw and try to write so you can save it for end-of-year comparison, and do some songs that will be part of your classroom routine.
Cheri
I start each day with book baskets on the carpet. The children come in and get a book to “read”. I also have them move a name tag to indicate whether they will eat a cafeteria lunch or home lunch. We do this every day . In this way they recognize their own name, and make it easy for me to do lunch count. I call it signing in….so it is also a way to find out who is absent. Then I ring my bell. the children will stop and look at you, and you praise them for already knowing what to do! You have just taught your “quiet down and look at me signal!” Then I have them clean up books and meet at our gathering place to say good morning.
I say good morning to each child, directing them to say good morning Mrs. Smith to me. when they say my name, I get all gushy, and thank them. EVERY little thing and every behavior you want to see needs to be taught by praising them for doing it! I do a short calendar, using my puppet friend as a helper to demonstrate how we will do calendar. I read our very simple rules using hand motions….listen to directions, raise your hand, clean up your mess, and my most important rule…be kind! we discuss each rule and what it means, all the while…I praise them for raising their hand and waiting to speak.
I have a very short job prepared for them. a two page book. front page says today I met Mrs. Smith. I teach them how to use a glue stick. take off the lid..turn it three times so only a little bit of glue shows. I have them glue a picture of me on to page one, being VERY explicit about where to put the glue. (on the back of my pic). Then on page two the words say, She gave me her heart. I have them draw a self portrait and give them a heart sticker to put on that page. I have them attempt to write their name on the book. If they cant, I write it in yellow highlighter for them to trace. they will put these in their cubby when done.
I have them choose a sticker to put on their cubby name tag so that they will remember where their cubby is. YOU must establish and teach the routine and EVERY aspect of their day…even how to roll up a glue stick and how to put the lid back on and hear it snap.
Daniela
 Thank you for all this GREAT advice, I will also be brand new to teaching K (and teaching in general) this year and I am terrified, mostly about this very subject!
Beccie
Build relationships- make sure they feel safe and loved from the beginning
Heather
 This will be a wonderful time in your life. It is amazing to see the transformation of these little ones! I agree with everyone here, make sure that you have procedures, rules and a schedule that you ALL can count on. Also discipline, you must have it in order in the beginning or it will be hard all year! Model, think aloud and provide exploration time.
Lynda 
Also do a web search for ‘kindergarten Nana’.
Diane Senk is a retired Kindergarten teacher and her blog is a gold mine.
Julianne
 We start the same way every year…our first day is cutting out a crown that says hooray hooray i started school today and we assess cutting skills right then and there, we take their first day pic coming out of the slide as we teach recess rules, and they color a picture that’s days this is me on the first day of kindergarten which gives us a name writing/fine motor/ following directions assessment. Oh yeah….the very first thing, which is actually like 30 minutes into the day because it takes that long to get them into their color spots…BATHROOM PROCEDURE! We pretty much do the same thing every day for the first week. Just change to new easy jobs that we can use to assess basic skills while they slowly learn the procedures. Good luck! Go slow….and don’t try to keep up with your teammates who have been doing this for 20 years!  Also…is there a school district close by that starts before you where you can go and watch a veteran teacher before your first day?
Lisa
 Go out and get the book The First Six Weeks of school. It will be your Bible. It’s a Responsive Classroom book. Saved me life.
Diane
Remember, it’s their first day too, so get down to their eye level and give a hug.  “I’m so glad you’re in our class!”
Suzanne
Nursery Rhymes are really great for the beginning of school, and kids aren’t as familiar with them as they used to be. You can get the students to roll play and act them out as the class recites them.  Good books for the beginning of school are Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes, A Kaleidoscope of Kids, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See by Bill Martin, Jr., and Brand New Pencils, Brand New Books, Brand New Teacher’s Dirty Looks by Diane de Groat.
Spell their names by gluing cereal like Apple Jacks, Fruit Loops, or Cheerios onto the letters you’ve written on cardstock or construction paper. Do lots of hands-on activities like puzzles, sorting, blocks, lacing cards, etc….And talk with your fellow kindergarten teachers. You’ll be great!!
Jaclynn
 “The First Six Weeks of School” is my GO TO book! The daily schedule and routine set up is great. I also incorporate the Daily 5 after the first three weeks. The kids really respond to the models in these two books. Tried and True!
Randy
 I like high energy learning, but actually keep in mind that the first priority of the 1st day and that first week is to get them there, feed them, and get them home safely.
To do this you want to make sure you know who they are.  So do lots with names, name-tags, who took the cookies clapping game is good for that and other name games.
Let them know you care about them, will help them learn and that you know they can do the things that may seem hard at first.
Find out how they are getting home, bus numbers etc as soon as they come in and trouble shoot any discrepancies first thing, (get help if needed), then make sure they know what expectations are for them ( rules and procedures.) Then have some fun, but make sure they know you are in charge and will need to be to cause all the good things you are going to do to happen! Keep that point, as a safety issue and an educational issue for them,so they see the need. Best of luck. I love the idea of finding someone else who is already doing it….maybe even a close year round school or summer program. Also,if you’re a prayer, pray for the kids and their families, it helps.
Jenness
Don’t do centers for awhile, but I do have them sit on their beach towels with a partner and play a “tub toy”, which is basically a puzzle, pattern blocks, bears, etc. that you have in little plastic bins. set a timer, after maybe 10 minutes, rotate the tub toys. you can do that while you are doing any beginning of the year assessments or while you pull a small group to your table to explain and practice a reading center.
During the first week of school we also read the book “Gingerbread Man got loose at school” (something like that)  the K teachers hide clues around the school that lead us to different parts of our school (cafeteria, office, playground, bathroom, etc) sort of like a tour of the school. follow each clue and read it to them. while you and your class are gone looking for gingerbread man, have your assistant put out gingerbread cookies on their tables for a surprise when you get back! (I think Little Debbie makes gingerbread man cookies all year long). Then they think that they’ve caught him!
Tandy
Go to teacherspayteachers and get everything by Deanna Jump!!
Paula
Singing Nursery Rhymes with posters or various books. The students will come right to the rug when you begin to sing. Very impressive to someone observing. Such classroom procedural controll. Go to Nellie Edge or YouTube for hand motions. Your students’ phonemic awareness will skyrocket. My best to you.
Pat
 I kept the kids really busy. We read The Kissing Hand, traced our hands and put a heart sticker on it just in case our moms missed us while we were gone and baked hand cookies with a chocolate kiss on the palm. We then took a tour around the room as I explained each center, modeling how to use the center and stressing the importance of putting things back. It really helped having an experienced aide and the routine every year.
Cecilia
Read The First Six Weeks of School…take the time to establish routines, social skills, and class rule/expectations. Also remember to fit in some play time everyday….Just have fun…it will all be ok…
Patty  Also, don’t doubt the kids. While I do understand the need to go over routines and where things are, ask them where they think things go. They know. Use a puppet or stuffed animal who starts school with them. They’ll show it where things go, how to line up, etc. Children tend to know, but crave your attention and love. Give it to them.
Ashley
 Google Daily 5!! It’s an easy read that is a big help with managing literacy centers. You can even do this concept for math!  Good luck!
Deborah
This is the Miss Bindergarten page, after all – I always start by reading Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten. You can use this as a springboard to discuss how the classroom is organized (Miss Bindergarten is hanging the alphabet – were did I – your name – hang the alphabet?) Then you can hold up various objects and ask student volunteers to identify where they might belong (then have them put them there.)
They need to understand how the classroom is laid out, where things belong, how you expect the materials to be taken care of (push the marker top until you hear it click) – then practice it. Children who have attended prek will be more likely to know how to behave in a school setting, but others need to be taught through modeling and practice. After we read the book, I have them talk about, then write how they got ready for school. This is a good time to practice procedures for passing out, sharing, and using supplies (markers, pencils, crayons). Don’t try to do everything the first day.
For math, place out tubs of materials similar to the ones Miss Bindergarten sorted – children have time to free explore the materials at stations, and sort things to put away. Talk about how these materials will be used as tools for learning.
Teach the most essential things on day one, then over the next few weeks, gradually introduce procedures for new routines (reading stations, listening center, art center, computer use) until they gain a level of independence that allows you to work with a small group. I like to begin formal reading groups after about two weeks, but things generally take about six weeks to be running smoothly. This is long – sorry. Good Luck!
Lois
 The First Six Weeks is invaluable!!! It will set the structure for you to actually teach later on! Couldn’t do it without it (for 17 years!).
David
 Get to know the student’s names.
Dylana
 Rules, routines, and songs!
Natasha
 First day…How/where to use the bathroom, get drinks, rules for the playground. Take out a few math tubs and let them play a bit. Get to know you games. Sing the Hokey Pokey. Sing the Wheels on the Bus. Read a bunch of good books. Ask a family member or friend to come and help on the first day. Be prepared for some crying. Have the kids draw a picture and write their names on a blank piece of paper and save it to give to parents at the end of the year. Make some playdough ahead of time and have that ready. I do start “stations” the first day, but they are super simple activities so that no one feels pressured (including me!). I ask parents to leave their kids at the door that first day and not to come in. I find it makes the transition easier, but that’s a decision you need to make for yourself. Good luck! It’s fun!
Cheryl
 Find a teacher friend for the end of your first day. You will NEED a hug and possibly a shoulder to cry on. It does get better :0)
Sharman
I always love using a stuffed animal on the first day, I give the animal a name and a personality (like a puppet). I discuss the rules of a good listener and the class rules. Then I ask the the animal if they can listen to the story. I normally respond in an animated voice of something not to do (as the puppet). Then I start the conversation with the class on proper behavior. Bring in music like Dr jean. or Greg and Steve to start building morning routines.
Ana
 I have enjoyed reading all the responses…I would suggest making sure you start off making sure you organize your materials & activities that you get from the other teachers…file everything as you go and make a place for it so you will have it next year. Also, I wouldn’t start off buying a ton of stuff until you see what you need. There are so many free resources now on the internet. Praying you have a terrific year!

2 thoughts on “Advice for a Beginning K Teacher

  1. These are all great suggestions. I would have to add rules and regulation! Rules for the children and regulations for the parents. “The First six weeks of school” book is a great starting point but it is also the window that you have to set the tone for the rest of the school year. Before school starts, you as the teacher have to think about the rules and regulations that will govern your classroom and be ready to stand your ground on those rules and regulations. I hope this helps. Have blessed school year.

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