Changing Gears: From 7th Grade to Kindergarten

By Colleen Ryan — So far this school year has been a complete 180 from last year.

After I graduated in December, I taught reading, writing, and math to the 7th graders. I enjoyed working with the older students because we got to have really in depth conversations day to day about what they were learning.  Moving from 7th grade to kindergarten has been a joyful but overwhelming change.

During the past 3 weeks I have been working on retraining my brain to think on the level of my students.  Often times during the day I have to remind myself that school is something that is new to them.  The little things that I didn’t have to teach my students last year are now practiced every day until they become natural habits; like walking in the halls, saying their name loud in the lunch line, how to share, etc.

One of the best parts of teaching kindergarten is the excitement the kids have in each activity.  From the first day of school my 5 year olds came in with huge smiles on their little faces ready to learn.  Its amazing how the littlest things makes them instantly excited and engaged in what is going on, whether its using a puppet to teach letters or counting “like a lion” it is very easy to get the student enthused about each activity.  I could tell from day one that these little people have huge hearts, they all want to learn and they all want please me in every way they can.

I have had the pleasure of working with a veteran kindergarten teacher, which has been beyond helpful.  It is amazing to see what come from years and years of experience, and exciting to bring new ideas to the table. In the past three weeks I have learned so much about how to teach to these younger students and I am looking forward to learning more and more each day.


Colleen Ryan ’10 graduated from Marquette with a degree in Elementary Education and Communication Studies.  For as long as she remembers she has always wanted to be a teacher because teachers have the ability to impact lives each and every day.  She will be starting her first year of teaching at the Hmong American Peace Academy teaching K5.  

1 Response to “Changing Gears: From 7th Grade to Kindergarten”

  1. 1 billhenk September 25, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Going from teaching seventh grade to Kindergarten is definitely a huge leap, Colleen, but it sounds like you’re transitioning very well. You’re learning firsthand how much time and energy must be devoted to establishing classroom routines with the little ones and how much a new teacher can benefit from the wisdom of a veteran educator.

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if schools could somehow operate in ways that would cause older students to demonstrate the same excitement, enthusiasm ,and willingness to please that you’re seeing in your primary grade children now?

    Continued good luck.



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