The Six “F”s

Sarah Kirchoff Education, Elementary, Life in the Classroom

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I can’t believe I actually want “F”s. I saw a Facebook post that had advice for teachers. It was simple, just six “F”s; be firm, fair, friendly, fun, flexible, and forgiving. In kindergarten, I have noticed that I am doing well with some of these but could use a little work in others. I want my students to love coming to school and have a great time when they are learning, but they also must learn how to be a student in school with structure and high expectations.

At the beginning of the year, I spend a lot of time being firm. They need to acquire so many new skills in kindergarten. They need to learn how to communicate with others, advocate for themselves and use the bathroom on their own. It’s a lot! If I have clear expectations at the beginning of the year (code word “firm”), the rest of the year goes very smoothly. As for the other “F”s, kindergarten is the best place to be if you want to have fun surrounded by friendly humans. Kindergarteners are the best at pointing out how pretty your shirt is or how much they like your painted nails. They invite you to talk and sit with them daily. They are the friendliest people on earth. They have the most fun because everything is new and exciting. They love listening to songs, dancing, jumping, and coloring. What they don’t realize (which is the best part) is that they are learning! I had a parent complain once because her daughter went home and told her we just played games all day. I had to reassure the parent that they are educational games and explain what the purpose is for what we do, but I was so glad to hear that her daughter thought we just played all day! Winning!

Being fair and forgiving in kindergarten is easy. The expectations are the same for everyone, but not everyone needs the same approach. Once I figure out what they need on a basic level, not academically, but socially and emotionally, it is incredibly easy to be fair and forgiving. They are so young and need so much, but every day is a new beginning for them, so each day we start fresh and that is fair for all my students.

I am still working on one of the “F”s. I am not always the most flexible person. I have plans that I have spent time on and standards they must learn, so these kids should get on board! Right? I need to just relax and realize I need to take advantage of all the teachable moments that arise in my classroom. Standards are important, but so are relationships with my kids and the experiences we share each day. I loved seeing those “F”s at the beginning of this year. It was a great reminder that relationships in the classroom are built upon these simple foundational concepts and sometimes we just need a little reminder, even if it comes from Facebook!


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.

Comments 1

  1. Caitlin Gawlowski

    I can’t believe it either – I want all of these “f’s”, too! I think the “f” I need to work on the most is “fun”. Before COVID, I had all of these fun educational activities I would do with my students, and I have struggled to either adapt these activities to be COVID conscious, or have been too overwhelmed with all of the extra things to feel like I have time to just have fun with kids. However, it is so important to do just that! What a great reminder of things all educators should strive to be!

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