Hello everyone. I'm really excited to join the First Grade Community. I'm transitioning from the fourth. Looking for basic profiles about first grade: general student behaviors, positives, negatives, parental needs, instructional & administrative foci, free web sites, etc...basically anything to start preparing.
Thanks so much in advance. I look forward to joining this awesome grade level.
I send home a fairly comprehensive package at the beginning of the year outlining pretty much everything:snacks, birthday treats, shoe tying, field trips, homework, behavior etc. We also have a meet the teacher hour the day before school starts so that helps ease the nerves of parents and children. Good luck.
They come in as babies and they leave as students. They make so much progress during their first grade year. You can almost see it everyday. You'll want to have everything planned out thoroughly every day because you don't want to turn your bak on them or have a time lapse. You will want to train them on everything. Lots of repetition. As for free websites, I love www.starfall.com and abcya.com.
Thanks, Linda. Looks like I've a lot of adjusting to do. I'm so used to independent students. However, it's always a joy to watch children grow and develop skill/independence. Thanks, again. Please feel free to add more.
When you first get them, they are kindergarteners! My friend laughed when I wrote instructions on the board for the first day. She said "you know they won't be able to read that."
There will be lots of tattling, lots of lovey hugs, and tears. And what the previous poster said is true. My babies have become students. They are very capable and I have trained them well, I hope. I'll be sad sending this group off to second. They're sweet!
Be ready for a HUGE change! I moved to 1st after years in 2nd and I was shell-shocked for the first quarter. lol.
As PP's have said, they are truly babies! They will need modeling for everything- lining up, putting papers in a folder, hanging up their coats in their cubbies, writing their names on papers, etc. The good news is they are easily "trainable," for lack of a better word! If you put something to a catchy tune, it's even better! We have songs for everything- coming to the carpet, lining up, packing up, etc.
My biggest challenge was stop, look, and listen! I have a few different attention-getters and we practice them EVERY day for the first month. At the beginning, you'll feel like you are invisible! lol But they get better! Some classes would be silent after one attention-getter and some needed 2 tries, but always expect silence before you talk.
Other things that will be very different from 4th- kids getting out of their seats and following you around, kids poking you when they need you, kids asking you about each problem they have, and more general neediness. I stress "Ask 3 before me" BIG TIME and we model it and discuss it often. If you google Positive Discipline "Wheel of Choices," you will find what we use to teach problem solving. It's a huge help in 1st.
At the beginning of the year, they need so much that you won't quite know where to start! Don't rush into academics, however. Play lots of games, take lots of Go Noodle breaks, read lots of wonderful stories, sneak some extra recess if you can, do lots of SEL and as much community building as you can! We started daily choice time for 20 minutes at the end of the day for 1st grade and it is wonderful! We even teach a mini-lesson beforehand that relates to our SEL curriculum, e.g. using positive self talk at blocks or solving problems respectfully at art center. We've seen so many positive results.
After a few years in 1st, my motto is "It's whack-a-mole until Christmas" but 2nd semester is wonderful! And they sure are cute! GOOD LUCK!
All of the previous posters have mentioned such good tips - I'll just add a few of my own:
routine, routine, routine. The more consistent you are, the better. Follow a daily schedule, but also follow a routine within the schedule. At first it seems as if you are repeating the same thing ad nauseam but by now my students can follow the routine without me having to guide them.
start small, but build stamina. This is true for everything! In the beginning of the year, my students could only follow one direction or go to one center, but now they can complete five centers without being led.
positive reinforcement really works. Also, wait them out. It's better to wait for quiet and then praise then to talk over them.
overplan. Plan twice as much as you think you need at first. Once they build stamina, you can scale back, but it's better to have too much to do than not enough.
make learning hands on as much as possible. In math they use manipulatives and white boards, in phonics they use scissors and glue sticks for sorts, with reading and comprehension they use graphic organizers, etc. Yes, you have to teach them how to use the tools appropriately, and when to put them down so they can listen attentively, but when the tools are being used appropriately, it really develops learning and keeps busy hands busy and on task.
It's just as I suspected. I've got A LOT of adjustment ahead of me.
No more snarky remarks that endear you to 4th graders. No more, "Just a minute, please. I'll be right with you." No more puns. No more instant classroom transformations where desks and chairs are regrouped in less than two minutes. I will miss 4th grade. Still, I'm looking forward to 1st grade. I have an idea of where they're headed, academically. I'm excited about teaching from that perspective. I'm also excited about:
---ART! (Do we get to use it more often for instruction?)
---PICTURE BOOKS! (Rare in grade 4...though chapter books are like little soap operas.)
---SONGS! (Clean up songs, and lunch songs, and line songs, and song songs!)
---OFFERING ADVICE TO YOUNG PARENTS (Do they welcome it...at all?)
---LESS TESTING! (What type of assessments are there?)
---CUTE ROOM OVERLOAD! (Is there any time for that? Do the kids even notice?!)
Thanks, all. And thanks for the latest sage advice from Word Girl and Texas Teach. Routines aren't my strength, but I'm going to work on it! And Texas Teach -games! Yes! I can do that! Whatever it takes to get the job done and to see my students grow because that's what WE do.
Thanks, everybody. My ears, heart and mind are listening and learning. Thanks so very much. I'll run to this thread whenever I feel a bit lost.
YES - on art! Tie academics to art to have a reason to incorporate it - painting a fruit still life to teach food groups; painting butterflies while teaching life cycles, etc.
YES - on picture books! That is literally my students' and my favorite time of the day! And it is academically very important. The students learn so much about comprehension and vocabulary from listening to read alouds - far more than they can get from books at their own reading level.
YES - on songs! I felt a bit weird at first with singing songs for transitions, but now it feels right.
The only advice I try to give parents is to keep a routine at home as much as possible and to read aloud to them; same as in the classroom. Are they receptive? Some yes, some no, same as I would think in any grade.
I would gently caution you not do go crazy with cute room overload, but that's a personal decision. I learned (from Responsive Classroom) to decorate the room WITH the students - use anchor charts and word charts that you have created together; otherwise, without their ownership, they (the students) won't use them as resources. My room is full of bright colorful posters now, but all things the students and I have made together.