Friday, June 24, 2016

Kindergarten Year in Review

So, that was awesome!!

Deciding to take the leap of faith and try Kinder was the best decision of my entire career, no joke. I remember how nervous I was to hit the "send" button on my email to my principal. I'm so glad I did...I've found my happy place.

I could list hundreds of things I love about Kinder, but I'll stick to the highlights.

Yes, 2nd graders are sweet and cute, but 5 years olds? Oh my- they still have baby faces and baby voices and I could just squeeze their sweet cheeks every day!! This age just captures my heart for so many reasons.

The opportunity to work with beginning learners- even those who are above- is just awesome. There's something so incredible about starting on the ground floor and working up; their progress within a year is just astounding. Most of them came in knowing some of their letter sounds and now they are freaking READING. When it comes to math I love teaching them the basics (counting, writing numbers) versus double digit subtraction. When I taught upper grades it was so, so challenging to work with students who had been struggling years before they got to me. They made progress, but they were still behind their peers come end of year. It was discouraging. Know I know how vital their early learning is to their success in later grades.

I have HELP!! And she is amazing- she's there to support in every way-in any way- I need. For one, just having an extra body in the classroom is a GODSEND. Someone to tie shoes, answer questions, help with crafts, manage behavior...the list is seriously endless. I wish every elementary teacher could have a para. I share her with another Kinder teacher, and it just works beautifully.

Kinder still has testing, but it's very minimal. Grading is just a breeze compared to upper. A BREEZE.

NONE. I don't like homework. I hate how it encroaches on home time. In the upper grades I tried to make it easier on families by having weekly packets that weren't due until Friday. This year I only asked that they read 20 minutes each night. I only sent packets home for expected Snow Days (not required work, just for fun.) I also sent website links and made accounts for ABC Mouse so they could have the extra practice if they wanted. Next year I think I'll send home monthly homework packets, because I've realized that parents AND the kids actually like doing them (at their leisure.) The kids especially are so cute when they realize they can "do work," if that makes any sense? Just another reason I love this age.

My para helped me with this- singing really helps them learn. It seems so simple, but honestly, we just never did it very much in 2nd grade. From phonics songs on YouTube, to chants and rhymes we use daily...singing is a huge part of Kinder and I loooooove that.

It was weird having Audrey be older than my students for once! Although she's still shorter than most of them, lol.

Coming from an end of the year 2nd grade mindset to beginning of the year Kinders was an eye opener. I expected them to be doing waaaaay more than they were capable of. Some of them couldn't even write their name. Culture shock for sure. I know I'll feel it again come September, especially given the growth they made this year alone.

While teaching is not easy, I definitely felt more at ease this year because it was overall more enjoyable. It always comes down to the kids- they are truly the reason I love my job! I'm looking forward to spending the rest of my teaching years in Kindergarten (maybe even looping up with a special class or two?) When you are blessed to spend your days with children, they become apart of your heart. This was an amazing year and I'm looking forward to many more!