They say that teaching kindergarten is a lot like herding cats. It is! But it doesn't have to be. Getting behavioral control of a class is the first step to a successful year.
Who doesn't love a new beginning. One of the best things about teaching is the clean slate every fall. Sharpened pencils, crayons that have never been used. Caps on EVERY glue stick. It's also a time to look at what has worked and what hasn't.
The first few weeks are when I spend that extra time estabishing routines. The routines that will make my life and the kids' learning so much easier. I honestly think the most important part of a guided reading group has nothing to do with reading. It has everyting to do with structure and routine.
The best teachers can get their class to run like a well oiled machine. It all starts on the first day. Lots of people will tell you don't even think about reading groups until after Halloween. I have to disagree. I believe a successful reading program starts day one. Here's the secret..... it has nothing to do with reading.
My first tip.
Have a Lucky Duck. Yes a lucky duck! Every day I choose one student to be a lucky duck. They get to wear a tag telling the world they are the lucky duck.
You will be surprised how many staff members will begin to comment on the lucky duck as you walk down the hall. It will become the most prized possession in your class. What's a lucky duck you ask? Anything you want. In my class the lucky duck is always the line leader. The lucky duck always gets to choose centers first. The lucky duck gets to open the gate to the playground. Whatever is valued in your class-let the lucky duck have it. It doesn't take long ( usually a day or 2 ) for every kid in my class to want to be the lucky duck.
By the first parent open house every parent knows about the lucky duck tag. Their kids may not tell them much about the daily events at school, but you can bet they will tell their parents when they are the lucky duck. You know what this gives you? A barginning chip! Control! Power! You'll never once have to raise your voice. You want to be the lucky duck? Then sit quietly, stand in line, keep your hands to yourself. In my class the conveted lucky duck tag goes to a student who is trying very hard, who turns it around, who is kind, who follows directions the first time. I can't tell you how many times I say something like " Billy is sitting criss cross apple sauce - he must want to be the lucky duck", "Emily is working quietly she must want to be the lucky duck", "Jayden just shared his toy with Joel he must want to be the lucky duck" Try it you will seriously be amazed. It's a great opportunity to recognize what you value in your class. Even the custodian in my school knows it is a high honor to be the lucky duck.
Make that tag worth gold and the kids will literally jump through hoops to get it. It's one of my strongest behavior managment tricks. Don't forget to share the tag. Very quickly the best behaved will show themselves, and just as quickly maybe quicker, those who struggle with behavior will become obvious. The lucky duck tag is meant to be shared. Everyone gets a turn. You must find a reason to let even the most challenging kids earn the right to wear the lucky duck tag. I believe strongly in kids who "turn it around" We all make mistakes. Make sure everyone has a turn!
Don't miss my next post in this series about Guided Reading Groups in Kindergarten, it's all about tip #2 "The problem solver" and tip #3 "Vacation" time.
You can get a free download of my lucky duck tag by following this link. Don't forget to sign up for my newsletter here to receive exclusive blog freebies.