Let me say from the get-go that I love this preschool class. I have never had a classroom of little kiddos that I didn’t love, this group included. But where oh where did they come from, Planet X? LOL!
The first day of school started out a little rough. We had two students suffering from great separation anxiety and it took quite a while to help them through it. While they were crying and being cuddled by either myself or one of my assistants, the rest of the class started with a fun activity at their seats. As things finally quieted down a bit, we were able to move on to eating our snack.
Then, after our morning snack, we went as a group to the potty and came back for circle time. I started with a story about Elmo’s first day of school followed by a fun getting to know you bean-bag game. What a relief. Even our two little scared kiddos were smiling.
Finally, it was time for me to introduce the classroom rules and routines. When it came to introducing our classroom jobs, I was astounded. First, one little boy blurted out “I don’t want a job!” Another child added “Me neither!” Within moments half the class flat out refused to take jobs. Really!
Now, our jobs are fun jobs. I have never had a student not want one. “Line Leader” – the first person in line all day long – is usually the favorite, followed by “Door Holder.” The Door Holder is the person who gets to hold the door open for the line. Our others jobs include: Prayer Leader, Song Leader, Flag Holder, Pledge Leader, Calendar Helper and Weather Reporter. All of the other students get to be Teachers’ Helpers for the day. I created colorful flags with the job titles on which to place their name tag as they were awarded their job. For the first time ever, the flags were of no interest to them. A successful classroom routine for three consecutive years was rejected in one fell swoop!
I chalked it up to newness and did my best to get the remaining children to take a job, making the process look as fun as possible. “Next week will be better!” I surmised. Was it? Not much. I still struggled to get them through the whole ordeal. What was I going to do?
The third week, my reluctant participants were obviously not catching onto the joys of employment. My assistant suggested we come up with something new. She was right. This was obviously not going to work. Then it hit me. The process of handing out jobs was just too long for them. I do not know why it worked so very well for the three years prior but it was not going to work with this group.
So, I took the 8 key positions and laminated two signs with four jobs on each with a bright yellow arrow pointing from each job to the right. I taped the signs to my black board in the classroom to write the child’s name next to the job they picked.
At the start of circle time, I asked for volunteers, holding off Line Leader and Door Holder for the last. The first job I offered up was Prayer Leader. Yes! I got a candidate. I had her come up and help me lead the group in our opening prayer. On to Song Leader. Another couple of hands went up. The Song Leader of the day then joined me immediately at the front of the room to lead us in our classroom songs. On and on it went. Assign a job, do a job. Assign a job, do a job. They were seeing the cause and effect. That was it! They needed to see the instant rewards.
I do believe that this routine is going to work all year long. Now that I know the system that works for them, I will add in assigning Teachers Helpers. I won’t do it, though, until I have a project going where I NEED helpers. Doing it that way, they will see right away what helpers get to do!
One sweet little side story: one of my parents emailed to ask me if we had played Ring Around The Rosey that day. We had not. We had actually played it the week before. Well, she said that she and her husband were checking on their kids after bedtime and heard him softly singing in his sleep “Ashes, ashes we all fall down!” How cute is that!
So, teachers, have you ever found that tried-and-true routines suddenly weren’t working? What did you do?
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