Tune in for our new reality series, Kindergarten Teacher. Ten contestants will be subjected to a classroom of 32 Kindergarten students for one day. Judges will vote on the most qualified teacher. Do you think you could be the next Kindergarten Teacher?
All contestants will be required to tie shoes, unfasten pants in a hurry while child is doing the “potty dance,” put on Band-Aids, give hugs, notice loose teeth, collect homework, listen to parents explaining who is picking their child up, remind one child not to lick the fish tank while holding another one’s hand to lead them to the carpet. All of these things must be done with enthusiasm and patience. Contestants who can make it through these first five minutes will go on to Round 2.
During Calendar time, contestants must keep all students on the carpet, seated flat on their bottoms and looking in the general direction of the teacher. If any students escape the carpet area, it is an immediate disqualification of the contestant. Also, all students must master the standard presented during calendar, as measured by the formative assessments, no excuses. The current standard is counting, writing and making sets to 20. If you make it through calendar time, you can move on to Round 3.
During Language Arts, contestants must meet the needs of all students, while keeping all students engaged and on-task. Viewers will be able to call in when they see children off-task. Any students off task will result in contestant elimination. Contestants will provide instruction for English Language Learners, students at grade level, below grade level, far below grade level and above grade level by providing small group instruction geared to each student’s needs. Contestants should keep in mind that, while working with a small group, other students will be engaged in meaningful tasks from state adopted materials. Also, keep in mind that the attention span of an average Kindergartener is ten minutes and that they do not work well independently. Contestants making it through Language Arts can move on to Round 4.
This round tests how well candidates do under pressure. While teaching a lesson in writing, a group of people carrying clipboards will enter the classroom and stand in the back and whisper. They are looking for “Good Teaching Strategies.” Contestants will: engage all students, focus on academic vocabulary, refer to the standard written in kid friendly language, have the students repeat the standard several times during the lesson. The visitors will choose random students to answer questions. The students must be able to state what they are learning, why they are learning it, and how they will use the information in the future. Contestants should realize that the visitors will choose the child who does not speak English. Contestants of students who cannot answer these questions, or who do not get at least 10 check marks for “Good Teaching Strategies” will be eliminated. Congratulations are in order should any contestant to make it to Round 5.
This is the assessment round. Contestants must test their students to measure their achievement on the standards presented. Since Kindergarten students need to be assessed individually, contestants must plan activities for the other 31 students. As in previous rounds, these activities need to be engaging, from state-approved materials, and all students must be on-task. If any contestants are still in the contest, they move on to Round 6.
In this round, contestants will read a story to the students. The story must be politically correct and contain an abundance of academic vocabulary. Contestants will find approved stories in their state-approved texts. During the story, the students must be on-task and not make any comments that do not relate to the story, such as, “My grandma has a dog” or “My dad is in jail” or “My nose is telling me to pick it.” Obviously, these students are off-task and this will result in contestant elimination. By now, it is the end of the day.
Contestants who have made it to this round are winners in the eyes of the administration. It is time for the viewers to vote. They will vote for the candidate whom they feel encouraged creativity, kindness, responsibility, respect, and the love of learning. They will also look at student success academically, but they will choose contestants who will prepare the future generation to tackle and solve problems, think of how their actions affect others and see how we all need to work together to survive. They will look at the whole picture, and they will choose the winner, a true Kindergarten teacher.
The prize will be exhausting, but one that is so rewarding, it is the best prize of all: teaching Kindergarten.
Patricia Raina teaches Kindergarten at Suisun Valley K-8 School in Fairfield, Calif. She was one of three winners of our Teacher Essay Contest.