As my Grade 3 LTO came to an end on a Friday, and my new Kindergarten LTO started the following Monday, I needed to change from Grade 3 mode, to Kindergarten mode in just a weekend’s time. As I have taught Kindergarten before, I knew what to expect. However, I knew it would take some time for myself to become familiar with the new classroom routines, the new students as well as the Kindergarten program that the teacher had already implemented. Because I will only be working this LTO for 3 months, I felt it was really important to make the transition as smooth as possible and to continue with the type of program the teacher had already implemented. I felt this was extremely important to keep some sense of normal for the students, as the adjustment to a new teacher would be more than enough for them.
The Week Before:
- I felt extremely lucky that my principal gave me some extra coverage time the week before I started my new Kindergarten position to go into the classroom for 2 half days to meet the students, meet some of the parents and see the program in action. I felt this was so beneficial not only for me, but for the students as well
- Students got a chance to meet me, and they knew a head of time that I would be their new teacher, so that hopefully eased the anxiety and helped the transition from one teacher to another
- I was able to see exactly how a day in this Kindergarten classroom was run
The Week I Started:
- The week I started teaching Kindergarten, the students were very excited since they had already met me. I came to school with students bringing me pictures they created as well, showing/telling me how excited they were I was their new teacher
- I hardly changed anything in their room or the program, and just continued teaching what the current teacher had been doing
- I started giving some diagnostics to the students so I could really see where each of my students were at
- As I have a lot of ESL and ELL students in my class, I also downloaded a translation app on my iPhone, which helped me interact and speak with my Spanish speaking students
- We also reviewed our classroom rules and created some carpet rules, to make sure students knew what was expected of them and to show them that I knew/was familiar with the rules they already had in place in the classroom
- I wrote an introductory letter home to parents, so they know who I am, what my teaching experiences are, and how they can communicate with me (which I got a lot of positive feedback from).
Overall, I feel the transition was quite seamless, and I think the main reasons are because:
1) My principal gave me time to go into the classroom before I officially started my new position, in which I was able to get to know and start the bonding process with my new students
2) I kept the program the same, so the students did not have to adjust to too many things at once. With young students, especially Kindergarten students, I feel it is important not to change everything because it will confuse them and may take away their sense of community/ownership that has already been created in the classroom.