Saturday, August 3, 2013

Back to School Troubleshooting

Well, the school year is off to a great start! My little ones started on Thursday and we have had two very successful days. I am in heaven with only 6 little ones and two paras right now. I was supposed to start out with 7 but two didn't show and 1 was placed the day before school started. I have a really great group and am looking forward to helping them make progress this year.

The first few weeks of school I always keep a running list of problems that arise or ideas I come up with throughout the day. I just jot them down on the board and then work on them in the afternoons. Here are some of the things I've noted on the first two days of school.

This mainly refers to our play area. Although I greatly reduced the amount of toys that were there to begin with, I quickly realized that I still had too many. I will post an updated picture soon but I now only have about 3 bins of cars, animals, and dolls and about 7 larger toys. I will rotate the toys throughout the year. I quickly noticed that with all of the toys, they were making a huge mess and it took them (and us) forever to clean up when we rotated through centers.

Grab a toy.

Being out of the pre-k classroom for several years, I forgot how valuable toys are. I didn't have one on me when one of my kiddos flipped out when his mom left him, I didn't have one on me when two of my kids finished eating before the others at lunch, I didn't have one on me when one when I needed my kids to stay on their circle time spot while I submitted attendance. By day two I remembered to carry a bag with me at all times filled with wipes, toys, data sheets, a schedule, and other essentials and I remembered to keep a small bin filled with toys in the circle time area.

Use a visual.

Throughout the first day, there were several times when I wished that I had a visual to use. I needed a "sit" visual at every table/desk/center. I needed a "toy" visual at teacher time to show them where to place their toy I was using as a reward. I needed "cracker," "juice," and "more" for snack time. After the first day, I walked through each area used during the day and made a list of visuals I had forgotten.

Back to the basics
It didn't take me too long to get back in the pre-k/kindergarten mindset but I will admit that the first time I placed a 9 piece inset puzzle in front of one of my newbies, I pulled all 9 pieces out instead of starting with one or two. I planned on having five circle time activities but switched to just one at the last minute. By the end of day one, instead of having a full teaching session with one of my lower functioning kiddos, we worked on sitting in the chair at the table for a few seconds. Whenever he sat when I performed the sign, he was given his toy to play with.

I am sure that I will find several more things that need to be changed and will remember other effective strategies that I have forgotten in my two years out of the classroom and one year with 3rd-5th graders. But it's all about progress-not perfection these days!

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