The Life of an Early Childhood Teacher
Pay scales for teachers remain a debated issue ranging from merit pay to the traditional yearly step increase. Having teaching experience at every grade level in both general and special education, I have always been a proponent of what I call the “youngest student rule” which states the “younger the student, the greater the pay”. I base my deduction on the fact that the younger the student, the more active supervision they need.
Students in the early grades may have learning disabilities and other problems that have yet to be diagnosed. Maturity can be an issue, and teachers, as well as parents, may overlook a problem just because it is “too soon to tell.” Additionally, budget cuts may increase class size and staff reductions that can really wreck havoc in the life of an early childhood teacher. The teachers assistants can be cut as well as additional support staff. Special area classes such as art, music, and physical education may well be cut making it even more stressful for the EC teacher. Now she must provide that instruction as well as giving up what would have otherwise been valuable planning time.
Early learning is very important. It sets the stage for the entire educational life of the student. An early childhood classroom has some important differences from the elementary classroom organization. A good positive early learning experience provides the basis for life-long learning. That could be another argument for my youngest student pay scale rule.
As I know of no school system that goes by my “early childhood teacher that needs more pay theory” then I shall share some organizational ideas for the early childhood classroom that I hope will help.
Why Stay Organized?
Organization is a key factor in classroom management at any grade level and will ensure smooth operating all through the day. The well-organized classroom fosters improved instruction and promotes better student behavior. If the teacher has to stop and look for materials, then what educators refer to as downtime can occur. Students will not be engaged in the lesson. Therefore, a lack of good instruction can cause behavior problems.
The teacher of young children will make hundreds of decisions during a typical day. Thousands of thoughts will pass through her mind. A well-organized classroom can help a teacher concentrate on the lesson to be taught and the needs of the students.
Organization will mean smoother transitions between activities. Less time will be wasted. Young students will feel more secure and happier. The teacher, in turn, will be less tired at the end of the day and have more energy for herself, her family and for preparing for the next day’s activities. It is a win-win situation!
Take a picture tour of one super teacher’s classroom to spark ideas for organizing an early childhood classroom.
Students start the day with assigned and attractive places for storing personal belongings.
Tables are best for seating in an EC classroom, allowing efficient traffic flow. Carpeted flooring is comfy and cozy for sitting on the floor at circle time.
Four early childhood students work comfortably at a table four by two feet. Names tags are on wide clear tape for durability.
Built-in shelves house lots of plastic storage containers holding everything from crayons to flash cards.Tree shaped sentence strip holder utilizes space well.
A Circular table is a space-saving way to include computers in the EC classroom. Covering bulletin boards with cloth keeps ugly rips and tears away, saving time
Calendar math is a bulletin board, large group instruction area and a learning center all-in-one. Students learn a multitude of math concepts in one place.
Concept maps help organize learning material for young minds.
Horseshoe table is a must for small group instruction. The bags on the table contain individual reading materials that students transport from home to school.
Store math manipulatives in good-sized plastic storage containers. A must have for manipulatives and small learning tools.
Leveled readers neatly displayed in color-coded boxes.
Sturdy wooden Big Book holders are available from educational specialty stores. Big Books are great for read-alouds.
Slip-on pouches on chairs are great for storing student materials. Turn one end of a pillow sham inside out and slip it over the top of the chair.