I will soon start teaching Kindergarten children. I have a B.Ed from a very good college. But as my first day draws closer, I am even more nervous than my students are likely to be. I know how hyperactive these tiny tots can be! How can I control them without seeming to police them and at the same time get them to like me? I do not want to be the scarecrow teacher!
This is the most petrifying aspect of teaching for anyone, so you are not alone! Letting children know that you are in charge from day one helps tremendously. You can do this by being assertive rather than by being aggressive. You will face problems in getting them to
- sit still
- do their work
Whether the children are sitting on the floor or on chairs, let them understand that they have to keep their hands and feet to themselves. Talk about the invisible line that separates each one of them. Children are fascinated by such talk because some of them can actually visualise that line! Also make it clear that they cannot tip back their chairs because they may hurt themselves or hurt the child seated behind. They have to learn to remain seated until they hear the teacher say, “Stand up.”
Make the laying down of rules fun because that is what children enjoy and understand. Tell them: We are going to play a game! You must do what I say. The person who doesn’t do it immediately is out of the game. Now say: Sit down. Stand up. Sit on the floor. Fold your hands. Raise your hand. Raise both hands. Start the game slowly and then quicken the pace.
By doing this, you are getting the children acquainted with language and also the rules of the class. Call forth a bolder child to the front and have him/her issue the orders. Children are filled with a sense of self-importance and will worship you for giving them this recognition.
The listening behaviour is something that will have to be enforced right from day one. You can do this by maintaining eye contact with all your children, particularly those who tend to ‘disobey’. When you follow them with your eyes, they know they are being watched and will not dare disobey because they do not know what you are capable of! Get children to fold their arms across their chest so that they are not distracted by their hands or the hands of other children!
When children know the answer, they can be as excited as chattering monkeys and you really can’t blame them because for them knowledge sharing and knowledge acquiring are equally exciting! Smile at children who are excited about the fact that they know, but guide them by saying things like, “It’s great to see so many excited children with the right answers. But let’s take it one by one. Raise your hands without answering. I will choose and you answer.” Don’t get too irritated by the hyperactive ones that blurt out the answer. These are the bright kids that you need to depend on when the class finds work a little too challenging. Chug along with these little stars with clear cut rules and you will find that they adore you because children like rules and are baffled when there are none! Enjoy your teaching and you will find that your nervousness vanishes!
The author is a teacher educator and language trainer based in Chennai. She can be reached at [email protected].