The first full week of school is ending and I have learned the names of my students, their mannerisms and some of their strengths and interests. I continue to make observations as I am teaching. I am continually wanting to make the space in the classroom the best it can be for the students, organizing bins of toys and manipulatives and de-cluttering. I am also constantly thinking of ways to teach the subjects (math, reading, handwriting, communications skills, ADL) that I do in an amusing but educational way to maintain the interest of the students. For now, one of my general goals is to maintain student attention/interest for 30-45 minutes at a time without the students getting out of their chairs. So far, the best way to do this is through music and manipulatives. If I lose the students attention and interest, they become bored, fidgety, and find ways to amuse themselves.
Furthermore, I have observed that praise and positive reinforcement helps the students. They like high fives, receiving stickers and stars. They also benefit from breaks in between structured lessons. These breaks could include bathroom and water breaks. I also see that sometimes, shutting the lights off and having the students put their heads on their desks calms them when there is high volume and lots of stimulation in the classroom.
As a first time teacher to students who are at the ages of four to six years old, I am in awe at how much energy they have all day and how much their behaviors and mannerisms affect each other. Coming from 13 years of teaching experience in a middle school setting to students from the ages of 11-15, I see many differences and some similarities. The maturity level and interests of the students are different in elementary and middle school. The similarities are their importance to communicate and learn to be independent.
My job will consist of making observations, making modifications, adapting to the needs of each individual learner, maintaining interest and attention while teaching, create relationships with the students so they are comfortable to communicate their needs/wants and creating learning material that is appropriate, educational and amusing.