Category: Kindergarten

I drew a picture of myself on a stage and an audience where you could only see the back of their heads. I wanted to be a comedian when I grew up. My mother still has this picture from my first grade writing assignment. I never pursued this career choice but I did pursue the next best thing, teaching Kindergarten.
I have been a comedian in a Kindergarten classroom for eight years and I have the best audience. Twenty eager minds waiting to learn, smile, and laugh. Always a packed house and always excited to see the next show. The audience pays with hugs, smiles, and excitement when they learn something new. They sometimes give a fist bump or a high five to their friends. I get a random “I love you” while I am performing. I have been asked a lot why I teach Kindergarten and how I do it everyday? I chose Kindergarten because it is important. I am the first teacher that students and parents associate school with. I have the ability to allow students to love school, love to learn, love to attend the show.I have the responsibility to allow parents to fall in love with school again or love school for the first time. I receive twenty or more hugs each day I come to work. I get payed to make my community I work in a better place to live. I have the honor of setting students up to succeed in life. I get to be silly and actually get payed to do so. I am thankful each day that God has given me the talent to perform in front of this audience each day.
As an educator, we have to remember that our students are watching every performance, ever facial expression, every gesture. We have the responsibility to do the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do. I am proud to be a Kindergarten teacher and I appreciate the audience that sits in front of me and laughs, smiles, and learns during every show. I have the greatest stage in education. I am a Kindergarten teacher.

I used this post in my acceptance speech for the Green Schools Foundation Educator of the Year.


I remember starting my educational career and hearing, “Don’t smile until Christmas”.  I am sure that many educators do feel  this way but this would never work for me.  I smile every morning I wake up and I smile every time I see a child’s face.  My students know I care about them and I tell them frequently.  It has taken me a long time to have success with  my classroom management in Kindergarten.  It is still a work in progress but I have been pleased with the behavior in my classroom over the years.  Every year is different and every child and situation is different when it comes to classroom discipline.  That means that there is no magic solution that will make students follow rules and make good social choices but I have found (with a lot of patience and trial and error) a plan that has worked for me and my students.  

My classroom management plan starts with a smile and expectations.  A smile can set the mood and show your students and parents what type of character you posses.  I meet every parent at open house with a hand shake and a smile.  I get down on each child’s level and smile and give a high-five.  I want my students and my parents to feel comfortable with me in order to open the door for communication and to let them know we are on the same page. We both want what’s best for their child.  I want the student to know that I care about them as soon as they walk in through my classroom door.  I have each student bring art work from home to help decorate the room and have ownership in the classroom community.   This is the groundwork for creating a caring community of learners.  This is the backbone of eliminating or minimizing unwanted behavior during a school day.  Each family is a vital part of the learning process that takes place in our classroom.   I update parents regularly with my classroom website , quick e-mails, or photos in text messages.  We create many movies, Glogs, and photo stories to make parents feel involved in their child’s education.  I start each year by making positive phone calls home to every family so that it is easier when I have to make a unpleasent call.

Each child has to know what is expected of them.  I have found that this works for all ages of children and even adults.  Life is easier when you know what others expect from you.  I tell the children what I expect from them when; they are sitting on the carpet, walking down the hallway, at recess, at lunch, on the bus, during centers, etc… This is an important part of my classroom discipline plan.  Instead of telling children NO all the time, I tell them what I expect.  Then the ball is in their court, they can either make a good choice or a bad choice, but it is always their choice.  I model the expectations for the first month of school and keep the same routines throughout the school year and I remind them of these expectations regularly throughout the school year.  When they make good choices, good things happen.  When they make bad choices, bad things happen. You can ask any child in my classroom and they will echo this motto.  This is true throughout our adult lives. we can make good choices or bad choices but we have to live with the consequences.  I reward good choices with extrinsic responses.  I do this quite often to start the school year.  I give the students; stickers for their sticker charts, I smile, high-five, say positives and give praise.  Children need these reinforces to learn positive expectations and they need a lot of these to learn what school is all about. The ultimate goal is for children to eventually have intrinsic motivation for making good choices. If they make bad choices; they have to turn their card, a note is sent home, or a phone call is made to their parents. You have to follow through with the plan.  You better call home if you say that is what the consequence is for negative behavior.  This is the mistake a lot of educators make, they don’t follow through.  Sometimes it just takes one call to let the students know that you are working with their parents and they will find out about the choices they are making during class.

The other aspect that has changed my discipline plan in my classroom has been the school wide movement to incorporate our bucket filler program.  The idea is that everyone has an invisible bucket.  When we do nice things, we fill each others bucket.  You fill a friend’s bucket when you make good choices and you fill your own bucket at the same time.  You can also be a bucket dipper.  That is when a student makes a negative choice towards a friend.  You can hear the children out on the playground or in the classroom saying “you are being a bucket dipper” or “you are being a bucket filler”.  We celebrate bucket fillers at school and at home by having them take a picture with our mascot Bruno The Bucket.  Our Art teacher made this puppet and it is amazing.  We hang these on our bucket filler bulletin board in our hallway.  Many notes come in from home with celebrations of bucket filling.  This is a great visual for younger students and they really grasp the concept.  We start every year with an assembly given and performed by some of the staff members including me. 

My hope is that this blog finds a new teacher and helps them figure out what classroom management plan works best to meet their pedagogy or give a veteran teacher a new twist to their discipline plan.  Children need to know what is expected of them and their accomplishments need to be celebrated.  Every student and family is a vital part to a caring classroom community and every discipline issue can be a positive teaching moment.  Each child deserves to keep their dignity intact when they are learning from their mistakes.  Sometimes a whisper in a students ear is just as effective as a lion roar.   I used to spend a lot of energy on classroom management because I didn’t have a plan. I spent 90% of my time on classroom management and 10% on teaching and learning.  My classroom is now 10% classroom management and 90% entertainment.  When the plan works and you follow through with the plan, teaching is a pure joy!  I say that it is 90% entertainment because when kids are motivated, engaged, and know expectations, students learn and have fun learning!

To Every Child That Walks Our Way

 I am a Kindergarten teacher because

I want to live in a better world

I want every child’s voice to be heard

I want to make an immediate impact

I want to keep children’s dignity intact

I want to stop all the hate and discrimination

I want all people to live equally in our great nation

I want the world to love each other

Why are we fighting, why even bother

I chose to become a Kindergarten teacher

I see hope in our immediate future

I see children compassionate and loving

Caring for one another and their minds evolving

Teaching is what I have been sent here to do

To make every child smile, laugh, and learn too

There is nothing else destiny has in store

I must give each child the keys to unlock the door

Each child is unique and special in so many ways

Teaching is what I want to do for the rest of my days

I want to be remembered when I am no longer around

I want every child’s potential to be found

I am a Kindergarten teacher and have never been so proud

Hear the words that I am screaming so loud

Our love, heart, and soul should be given each day

To every child that walks our way

                                   By Ryan P. Flinn