Don’t smile until Thanksgiving:
To earn your kindergarten students’ respect, start the year off strict and smile-free. Your students might test your anti-smiling resolve prior to Thanksgiving by saying cute things like, “You’re my best fwend” or “I wuv you.” Do not break. If students catch you smiling before Thanksgiving, they will probably assume you are a professional clown. Making serious faces is the only way to maintain any semblance of control over your class. If you are afflicted with Resting Smiley Face, teaching kindergarten may not be right for you.
Don’t laugh until Christmas:
Ensuring that your 5-year-olds are college and career ready depends on classroom management. Students tend to interpret laughter as encouragement to be even sillier, which will leave no time to learn the colors of the rainbow or how to share. This tip will likely be difficult to follow due to your students’ plethora of giggle-inducing knock-knock jokes. Remain stoic and initiate your own joke:
“Your teacher, NOT laughing.”
Don’t sleep at home until Pajama Day:
Students have long hypothesized that teachers live in the school building. If you are truly committed to preparing your 5-year-old students to learn the scientific method, then you must leave a solid trail of evidence that you do, in fact, live in the building. Pillows, sleep masks, and some dental floss will suffice. If you care about your students’ futures in STEM, then you must maintain the ruse. If you slip and reveal your double life, you will ruin any chances that your students will focus on their phonics.
Don’t admit you have a first name until the 100th Day of School:
Let’s say it’s the 99th day of school and a fellow teacher pokes her head into your room to say, “Let’s touch base during prep time about tomorrow’s jelly bean counting station, Doris.” Your students exclaim, “Wait…who’s Doris? Isn’t your first name ‘Miss’?” In this scenario, you must gasp and pretend to faint on the colorful classroom rug. Once you have opened your eyes and taken a sip from an apple juice box, you’ll have no choice but to whisper, “Doris was my secret spy name. That’s right; I used to be a professional spy for the jelly bean companies.” Your students will be so shocked, impressed, and/or confused that they will be speechless. Along with not smiling, laughing, or leaving the school building, occasional fainting is necessary for orderly instruction.
Don’t pee until the spring Scholastic Book Fair:
If kids know you pee, they’ll know you drink water, and if they know you drink water, they’ll figure out you’re human, and if they figure out you’re human….well, that’s too slippery of a slope to consider. Avoid the potential for chaos. As the Nike slogan should go, Just Hold It. Wait until the spring Scholastic Book Fair, when your students will be too mesmerized by the giant rolling shelves of stories and stuffies to notice you tiptoe to the one working staff bathroom on the third floor. If a student catches you sneaking out the door, quickly distract them with the latest Elephant and Piggie book.
Don’t eat until Kindergarten Commencement:
Kids don’t respect those who need nourishment to survive. Have you ever heard a former child reflect on their early education by saying, “Oh, I loved Mrs. So-and-so. She consumed Activia yogurt frequently.” No? There’s a reason for that, and it’s that competent teachers do not consume yogurt or eat anything at all. Other things that competent teachers do not do are sit, sneeze, swallow, nod, blink, or breathe. Instead, save these activities for the summer.
Do make fart jokes all year long:
Kids do respect the hell out of those.
Sarah Garfinkel is a writer and educator living in Brooklyn. You can find more of her writing at sarahgarfinkelwriting.com