Mrs. Kirchoff's kinder class

Kindergarten 2021: Ready, Set, Go!

Sarah Kirchoff Elementary, Life in the Classroom

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Kindergarten 2021: Ready, Set, Go!

It happens every year. This is my 22nd year of teaching and it still happens to me! The week before school starts, I begin to get anxious. I need to get my classroom ready, my lesson plans ready, my supplies ready. I need to label everything with the kid’s names. I need to be completely ready for the next batch of little humans that will enter my classroom, ready to learn. What will that look like? I occasionally get a few “new” ideas for décor, but I am 44 years old now and I don’t feel as much pressure as I used to when I was younger to make everything cute. But what will the kids think? What will the parents think about meet the teacher? As teachers, we all know we have been preparing all summer. Even if we consciously try not to think about school, it is always on our minds. When can we get our keys? When will we have time to work in our classroom? How many kids will be in my class? Will it be “back to normal”? These are the things that keep us up at night and give us the strangest dreams right before we go back to school. My back-to-school dreams always seem to be something about me being late or having to teach the entire grade level by myself. In reality, I was not late, and all my colleagues showed up, so no worries after all!

This year I have 23 kindergarten kids in my class. Those butterflies I get at the beginning of every year, fly away as soon as the kids and their families enter the room on meet the teacher night. Kindergarten students are the best kids to teach, simply, because everything is brand new and exciting, and you can feel that they have butterflies too. It turns out, they don’t care about the curriculum or anything that you have been planning for them. They care about where they sit, where the bathroom is, where the playground is and what time they eat lunch. Oh yeah, and the most important thing, when they get to go home. The group of kids I have this year seem sweet. Full of wonder and anxious anticipation. I just finished my first week back, and we all survived. There were a few tears from kids, but mostly from their parents. Kindergarten is a huge milestone for all involved. It’s my job to make it as easy and fun as possible, with a sprinkle of new expectations and a lot of exhaustion.

I think back to all the questions I have the week before the kids come back, and then I realize that those things don’t matter in the long run. What matters is the relationships I build with my students and their families. The experiences I provide and the fun we have together building the foundation for the rest of their educational journey. We are in this together, and the journey has just begun!

 

Sarah Kirchoff is a kindergarten teacher in the Higley Unified School District. She has over 20 years of experience in early childhood education. She began her teaching career way back in August 1999, when everyone was worried about Y2K. She did not even have computers in her classroom at that time! Since then, she has taught first grade for four years, preschool for three years, second grade for two years and kindergarten for twelve years. She has worked for three different school districts during her teaching career. During this time, she has been able to identify which grade she found to be the most enjoyable. Her greatest teaching passion is for kindergarten. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Arizona State University and a master’s degree in Elementary Education from Northern Arizona University. She was teacher of the year at her school in the 2019-2020 school year. Most recently, she became a National Board Certified Teacher as an Early Childhood Generalist in December of 2020. She currently serves on numerous committees at her school including school site council, the instructional leadership team, and the culture and climate team. She is a mentor teacher at her school and has mentored numerous interns and student teaching candidates. When she is not busy with school commitments, she spends time with her family. She has a husband who is also a teacher, and four children. Two of which are students at NAU and two that are in high school. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, reading books and spending time with family, friends and her two dogs. Young children need a teacher that is always advocating for them, socially, emotionally, and academically. Sarah wants every student she encounters to realize their potential and she is willing to help in any way she can. The impact early childhood educators have on students reaches far beyond their younger years. Sarah wants to leave a positive impact on her students so they can continue to have wonderful educational experiences beyond her classroom.

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