Career Story: Kindergarten Teacher At A Rural Public School

Kindergarten Teacher At A Rural Public School

Job Title: Elementary School Teacher

Type of Company: I work for a school district in northwestern Connecticut.

Education: BA, Education, Westfield State College (Westfield, MA) •• MA, Early Childhood Education, Westfield State College

Previous Experience: I worked in a childcare center, did some substitute teaching in elementary schools and taught 2nd grade in Virginia for three years.

Job Tasks: I teach two kindergarten sessions. The morning class arrives around 8:30. We have a group meeting with opening exercises, calendar and daily skills review followed by 45 minutes of Language Arts, in which we focus on letter names and sounds as well as high frequency sight words. The students go to a "special" such as P.E., Art, Music or Library for the next 45 minutes. I plan and prepare lessons during that time. After that, we go outside for 15 minutes of recess on the school playground, weather permitting. We come in, wash hands(or squirt with waterless sanitizer) and have a snack brought from home. We also have show & tell during this time. Next I read a story on the carpet area. It is often about a topic we are working on in Science or Social Studies. Next we have a math lesson, often using manipulatives or playing games. We end our day with science or social studies. The students are at school for three hours. My assistant and I put them on a mini-bus and help fasten their seat belts.

Next I go to the teachers' room and have a 25 minute lunch break and a chance to socialize with other adults. Then I go back to my classroom and repeat the same schedule with an afternoon session of kindergarten students. After 3 hours I make sure the students get on the right buses to go home. Then I straighten up the classroom and set up for the next day. Every Thursday afternoon I print off a weekly newsletter to keep the parents informed about what we worked on that week, what we will be learning about the next week, upcoming events and ways to practice skills at home.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is working with five and six year olds. They are very inquisitive and love to learn. So much is new to them. It is very exciting and rewarding to see them process and understand new concepts. They are enthusiastic and easily impressed. We emphasize social skills, positive behavior and good manners and teach children how to get along. We also encourage the children to use words to express feelings to one another.

The worst part is the paperwork I have to keep track of. We have to be flexible when there are last minute changes to our schedules. Some children misbehave and do not show respect for others. Records must be kept on each child and we are constantly testing children to determine what they have learned and if they are ready for more challenging work.

Job Tips: Become familiar with good children's literature. Visit libraries and book stores. Volunteer to work with children in programs, schools, etc. Visit classrooms and observe different grade levels and teaching styles. Brush up on children's songs and games. Be sure to take classes in children's literature, reading readiness and classroom management.

Additional Thoughts: You have to love working with young children. You must be very patient and be prepared for anything. Children do not always progress at the pace you would like them to. You have to be willing to try different methods and be prepared to discuss progress with parents.

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