Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The First Day

Don't worry...there's no need to panic! Just remember that this is the first day of school...You won't even get into anything academic for the first three weeks so you don't have to worry about that. The first day is all about maintaining the chaos! When I first started teaching Kinder, my main concern was what am I supposed to do if I'm not teaching anything academic?

In this post I will go through a minute by minute guide of what you can do on the first day.

7:40 Arrival
Collect students from wherever they congregate...every school is different in their a.m. procedure, but i'm just going to go through the day like it was my school and you can just adapt this schedule to meet your needs.

Stand by the door and shake each child's hand and exchange names as they enter. Tell them to leave their backpacks on and go sit on the carpet. Once everyone is in the room, I sit on my little stool and introduce myself again and tell them I am so glad they are here and that we are going to have a great year!

This next step may sound a little harsh, but I like to set the precedent right away. I tell the kids that I have two big rules and they are: Number 1...I am in charge of you and you have to do what I say. Number 2 You do not tell me no, when I ask you to do something, you say yes
(or yes ma'am, if you are into that) and then you do what I'm telling you to do.

I always do this on the first day and anytime I get a new student. I promise it will make your life so much easier if they know you mean business right from the get go!!

7:50 Unpack
You explain to the kids that this next step will be how they unpack their backpacks each day. Have the kids go to the area where you'll have them keep their backpacks and sit down together. One by one call the kids over and show them where you want them to keep their stuff. Tell them that when they get here in the morning they will take their daily folders and any lunch money or notes for you out and show them where you want them to put that stuff. Now this is the fun part, as each students puts their things away the whole class with clap for the student. Then call up the next student and repeat. This helps teach them your unpacking procedures and gives the kids a chance to learn the other kids names.

It takes forever, but it gives you an opportunity to make sure they get it right and gives you a little insight into their personalities.

8:10 Bathroom Break
Now you will show them how you want them to line up to leave the room. Before the first day I put little pieces of tape on the floor to show them where I want each one to stand. I call them up one by one and show them where to stand. ( on the first few days I put them in abc order, once I get to know their personalities I change them around a little bit). Once I have them in line I teach them the line up song.
TEACHER: Lining up is easy to do
TEACHER: When you take care of only you
TEACHER: Feet together hands by side
TEACHER: We've got spirit we've got pride
TEACHER: Sound off
TEACHER: Hit it again
TEACHER: Ready to go
STUDENTS: 1,2,3,4, Out the door

Okay, have them sit back down and now you'll explain the bathroom procedures, it's up to you whether you want them to sit against the wall to wait for their turn and when they are done...or have them wait in line the whole time. I've done it both ways and there are pros and cons to both. You just go with what works best for you.

You'll want to instill really good bathroom habits now so you don't end up with problems later. I explain about going in the restroom no more than three students at a time, using the toilet quickly, washing hands with one pump of soap and getting one paper towel and making sure it goes in the trash can. I then get a volunteer to show us how to wash hands. (I've always had a sink in the classroom so I have one student demonstrate there) Have a little fun with it and ask another student to show you the wrong way to wash your hands...this usually lightens the mood a bit, but also lets them know what you don't want to see and that you expect them to do it properly. Now have that volunteer tell you or show you the right way.

Now have them line up in the same spot you have given them already and then start off the song.

Take them to the restroom. Make sure you give lots of compliments to the students you see doing what you've asked and correcting the ones who aren't...ex. Stephanie, I love how you only got one pump of soap, great job! ex. Casey, remember we stand quietly while we wait our turn.

8:30 Activity

Back to the carpet...
Teach the kids an attention grabbing device. Hand clapping, song, etc. Practice this several times!

Show the kids the activity they will do next. (This is where you can have them draw a picture or do a worksheet...whatever you and your team decided before school started) If you are in situation where you don't meet with a team, comment below and I can give you more details.

This is the time where I talk about supplies, show them where to find them, how to use them etc. I know that you may be thinking this isn't necessary, but after years of experience, don't put it passed them to do stupid things with the supplies! I am silly with this part though, saying things like crayons only draw on paper, not on hair, or teeth, or your friends teeth etc...they get a kick out of this. Scissors only cut paper, not hair or clothes or your friends hair or clothes, etc.

Now show them their seats and let them do the activity for a while. Take this time to walk around and check their progress, making sure to compliment great work...I usually ask a student or two if I can show the class their excellent work...they love this and it gives the other kids an idea of what you think is good work. Ex. Look class! I love how Marie is coloring inside the lines and doing her best!

9:00 Read a loud
Each year I like to bring out a picture of myself when I was in Kindergarten...this usually leads to a little discussion about my life and family and it allows them to get to know me a little better. Then I show the kids my favorite book when I was there age, Pumpernickel Tickle and the Mean Green Cheese. I read the book aloud, then I urge the kids to bring their favorite book to school this week and we'll read them aloud to the class.

9:20 Lunch time practice
Next I have the kids line up, using our new lineup song, and we take a little trip to the cafeteria to practice lunch time procedures. I'll go over how I want them to enter the line, where they'll sit, where to put trash, etc. I have them actually go through the line and pretend to put food on the tray and pretend eat and throw it away...it's a great opportunity to discuss lunch time manners and voice levels appropriate for the cafeteria. On the way back to the classroom you might have them stop for a restroom break...You'll see a lot of restroom breaks in the schedule today, but this is some students first time in school and they need plenty of opportunities to practice anyway.

9:40 Play a Game
I like something simple and easy for the first day, like "Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?"
Another opportunity to get to know each other better.

9:50 Centers
For the first three weeks I don't pull small groups because it is essential to set up good center procedures and behavior, otherwise when it comes time for small groups, you'll never get anything done!
So for these early weeks I set up simple things and have them rotate often...ex. blocks, drama, drawing/writing, computer, books, etc. The first day I'll will choose what centers they visit by assigning groups (you can even just send them in their table groups to keep it simple) I'll let them play for about 10 minutes then I'll use my attention grabbing signal, have them clean up, then switch centers. If the students don't get a chance to visit all the centers then assure them they'll get a chance this afternoon. Make sure they clean up before switching. And as they play, walk around the room making sure they are getting along and using equipment properly.

10:30 Restroom and Lunch
In my experience you have to eat lunch with the kids for the first week to help ensure good manners and behavior so be prepared with a meal that's easy.

11:20 Restroom/ Rest
After the restroom, I have kids sit on the carpet again and I go over Rest Time procedures....in my experience nap time has lasted the first 9 weeks and it's only for 20 minutes. I tell them that they don't have to fall asleep, but they have to stay silent. I let them bring a towel only, no pillows or stuffed animals because there just isn't enough storage. I tell them to try and not lie next to someone they might be tempted to talk to...you can even assign them a space if you already have some talkers. I tell them that they will have 20 seconds to find a place to lie down...anywhere but behind my desk/teaching table, under or on their tables, or by the door.
I start counting down from 20 very slowly and I tell them when I get to 10 one light will go off and when I get to 1  and both lights are off, voices must be off! The first few days I walk around to ensure they are all quiet...complimenting those who are doing a great job! I also don't allow them to take their shoes off, many still don't know how to tie their own shoes and it takes up too much time.

11:50 Activity
Towels are put away and we'll do a short activity or game

12:15 Restroom/Specials
I explain that in Specials they are to follow the rules of the teacher in charge!
While they are in specials I make sure their "How we get home cards" are attached to their backpacks and if there are any doubts as to how they are getting home I'll call the parents.

1:15 Recess
Usually as a team we will gather the students outside by the playground and go over the rules of the playground

1:40 Activity/game/snack/circle game

2:00 centers
This is a great time to either let them explore whatever  center they didn't get to go to earlier in the day, or you can practice dismissal procedures. Before they leave for the day make sure that each child has their "how we are getting home" tag on their backpacks and they know where to go.

2:30 Dismissal
It's a good idea to bring a clip board with students names and how they are getting home with you during dismissal and check their names off as you go. Also try and have their parents phone numbers on the list as well just in case.

Congratulations on surviving your first day!!

Now of course this was just an example how how you could run your first day, but as you can see, you don't need to worry about rushing into any academics just yet...there'll be plenty of time!

Before you go home and pass out, make sure you've got everything laid out and ready for tomorrow!

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