Fellow Kindergarten Teachers,
I know. I know what we get. We get kids who have never learned a letter, a number, or a manner. They don’t know how to do school or raise their hands- let alone any academic tasks. This doesn’t apply to all of our students of course, but for a lot of us, a good portion of our class comes to us uncooked. That’s all good and well, we handle it and we get them through the year. Yay us!
I have to talk about the one thing that IRKS me to no end about us- and that’s our excuses for what they can’t do. To be fair, I’m sure we can agree on the fact that it is annoying that most presenters come to us without being well versed in making their method/idea work for kindergarten (unless it’s a primary specific training). They usually say something along the lines of “oh kindergarten, we know that you are TOTALLY different” and that annoys me- but I don’t blame them. I blame us! We are the worst offenders. I’ve heard it on all ends. In team meetings, in professional development sessions, in my own head from time to time. It sounds like this :
“Yeah but this won’t work for us…it’s DIFFERENT in kindergarten…”
“Monitor for learning with green, yellow, and red? Ha! Our kids don’t even know their colors!”
“Problem solving in math? They can’t even write a number!”
“There is no way my kids could read independently for that long. They can’t even sit still.”
Can. We. Stop?
Yes, it IS different in kindergarten but for serious, don’t count them out. I firmly believe that little kids can do big things. I believe that the best of practices that I read or hear about can be done at the kindergarten level. I LOVE sitting in a PD session on something as heavy as Marzano, for example, and challenging myself to make it work in KG. I am an imaginary student of the Teacher’s College Readers and Writers Project (as in I read just about everything that they publish out of their camp and believe in workshop and balanced literacy) and I run full blown workshops in each subject area all day long. With five year olds. Because rigor.
And you know what? These babies rise to the occasion every single time. My favorite excuse- the “it’s different in kindergarten” is true but not because they can’t do it. It’s different in our delivery and execution of the practice. We have got to stop it. Our youngests are smart, capable, curious, and intelligent. All of them. Not just the ones that come in with letters, sounds, and decent behavior. They need teachers that believe the same thing.
So, yep, I preached at you. I’m also going to challenge you. When you are sitting in the PD session with the entire school, rolling your eyes because “this would never work in kindergarten,” pretend like it would. Ask yourself what that might look like and then make it happen. Will it be a slower process? Totally. Will it be worth it? Totally. Group Hug.