Life as a class teacher in a local kindergarten here can be pretty hectic. Have you ever wondered what it’s like? Here’s an example of what your day could look like.
Depending on the school, children will come back in the morning/afternoon or whole-day. If you’re free to prep in the mornings, it’s an ideal time to look at the tasks you need to do. Personally, I have a little green book for this. Here’s an example of the small snippets of jobs that are in it that you might need to do daily.
Prepare lesson material and put worksheets in folders, mark worksheets/workbooks, call parents, prepare/tidy classroom (change dates/timetable), gather teaching resources/material, write daily reflections (if you missed them the previous day), sharpen pencils/replace stationary that has been depleted, etc.
The Kids are Here!
Standing by the door and greeting children as they come in is standard for kindergartens. Typically, they’ll arrive, beep their card for attendance (or whatever system is in use by the school) and teachers will help to take them upstairs and pass them over to the aunties who take them to the toilet and then back to class.
When children arrive in class they may have a number of things they need to bring back each day and hand in. This is very school dependent so I’ll stick to the basics here.
Temperature Sheet– Kindergartens will generally have you check a temperature sheet. The child’s temperature is taken at home and written down on the temperature sheet. It’s your job to make sure the child doesn’t have a fever and sign it.
Notices– Normally, each child will have a notice bag which the school will use for sending notices home periodically. When they come back to school (depending on their age) they take notices out and put them in the notice box.
Student Handbook– Each student will have a handbook that they need to bring back. The standard use case is as a means of communication between you and the parents. The kids bring it back and the teacher will have a quick scan through it to see if any parents have left comments. (such as upcoming casual leave or general queries) Some kindergartens may use an electronic system similar to email instead of a handbook.
If there is another language class first (for example, Chinese), you will have a bit of time to prepare things. Use it! As a class teacher, time is like gold!
After the Kids Have Settled in
So, you have a bit of time. What can you do?
The Register– It’s a good time to take attendance. There is a mark for everything in a register and schools like you to follow it. (a few examples would be marks for arriving late, leaving early, sick leave and casual leave)
Student Handbooks– You can have a flick through each student handbook and see if there are any comments from parents you need to reply.
Notices– These need to be organised and marked down (just so you know who has brought what. Super important!) Once you have marked them down, you can pass them to admin.
Mark Work– Chances are there will be a backlog of workbooks/worksheets to mark from the day before. As a teacher, it’s always best to utilise your time efficiently so correcting work is a good use of your time here.
a short mention about snack time. There are about 15–20 minutes in a 3 hour period that gets allocated for this. Not a lot of time, especially for the slow eaters.
Teaching is very school/teacher dependent, but I want to explain it in terms of “time”. You might have one of two scenarios.
- A full block of *teaching time in which you can teach and do *activities with the kids. Let’s say you get an hour.
- Your time is divided so you spend 20–30 minutes teaching and 30–45 minutes for activities. (sometimes teaching time and activity time aren’t back to back.)
*Note: I refer to “teaching” concerning delivery of the lesson aim (you might be reading stories to introduce a concept) and “activities” are the things that children will do to support that lesson aim.(doing artwork based on story, playing with dominos for math, etc)
I’m more used to the second option, personally. For the actual delivery of the teaching segment, I use a constructivist approach. If you’re not familiar with it, you can find out more about constructivism here. I give children time to explore a topic and reflect on it. Supporting materials help develop their ideas. You will normally have about 20–30 minutes here. (Again, the actual delivery will be very teacher dependent but you should aim to use a constructivist approach.)
After you have taught, you can move on to the activities. Activities can vary but there is always one thing that goes hand in hand with local schools and that’s the use of worksheets/workbooks. (local schools are obsessed with these!) So whatever children have learnt has to be put down on a worksheet. (it’s proof that they understand, you see….)
Activity time is normally split between languages so you will have to be mindful of time. If you have an hour, then expect that 30 minutes of that time will be used for Chinese activities, once children have finished they will swap to English and vice-versa.
It’s important to be mindful of home time because not all children have the same arrangement. It’s quite popular in Hong Kong to send your child to/from school via the school bus. if that’s the case, they will leave earlier.(or whenever the school bus decides to show up!) For children that are picked up by their parents/maid, they will typically give you some kind of pick up card (student identification) before the child can go home.
Can I Leave Now?
Nope! Schools tend to give you about 1–2 hours after children have gone home as prep-time. You’ll need it! Sometimes you just want to have a cup of tea after a hard day and plan what you will be doing tomorrow, or the next week, or even the next month? A lot of planning goes a long way.
Would You Like to Know More?
The things you do daily are only a small part of your job here. There are many other things that you will need to balance on top of your daily tasks. If you’d like to know more about school life as a teacher, tell me what you want to know, and I’ll probably write about it!