Chapter 8: Supporting Transitional Kindergarten Implementation – TKIG

Many Transitional Kindergarten teachers come
into their first year with the knowledge base, skills and attitudes necessary to be effective.
Continual professional development will increase their ability to be even more successful.
Teaching is a professional journey where educators evolve and grow over time. It takes patience,
commitment, and perseverance. You know, we were very fortunate because we
advertised the openings for Transitional Kindergarten classrooms and we had credentialed fully experienced
teachers that volunteered to move down because they had a strong interest in working with
younger students. So knowing that we had people who are knowledgeable about the kindergarten
curriculum, experience with early childhood education, we were very fortunate in that
we seemed to be able to fill every position we have with very, very well-trained, credentialed
teachers. There is a significant amount of professional
development provided up front, particularly in terms of the curriculum; making sure that
the teachers understood how to use the different curriculum instruments; as well as the
initial assessment of their maturational development, where they were, what they needed. We’ve continued to have staff development
for our teachers once a month, and on into the future because we believe it’s something
you have to continually revisit. Good things happen when TK teachers are provided
opportunities to discuss best practices. It inspires new ideas, promotes reflection and
further enhances program quality. You need to collaborate with other people
who are in the same boat as you because doing it by yourself, it’s impossible. You just can’t,
you can’t. You need someone else to bounce ideas of off. We are very fortunate to have collaboration
time as a regular part of our instructional practice. So our teachers work very closely
together. They communicate together. They give feedback to each other and that’s in
a vertical manner as well as by grade level. So we work hard on collaboration. We think
that communication and feedback is very essential. I feel fortunate to be chosen as one of the
lead teachers for Fresno Unified. We meet twice a month and at different schools. It’s
fun because we get to go to other teachers’ classrooms and see their environment. And
teachers bring different ideas to share. The teachers can feel a little bit isolated
because they are usually the only teacher on their campus who does a transitional-kindergarten
program. And so, by providing those various professional developments, we bring them together.
So that helps them feel more of a team. I am the only TK class in my district, and
I don’t have anybody to really collaborate that’s close by on-site or even in the neighboring
school. I think it’s very beneficial to have an opportunity to get together with other
teachers just like myself who are in the same position. This is the only opportunity I have really
talked to other people who are doing the same thing, and share ideas, get new ideas and
kind of get some confirmation that, “You’re doing the right thing.”
So, yeah, it’s been really nice. TK teachers expand their knowledge of child
development and instruction by working collaboratively with preschool, kindergarten, and first grade
teachers. Through this articulation, all teachers improve their instructional practice. Having a team of teachers has really been
instrumental to my comfort level this year because we keep in touch by email. We
keep in touch by phone. We meet at least monthly, if not more frequently, to go over what it
is that is happening in each of our classrooms. And then I still go to my kindergarten team teachers.
Teachers of different grade levels have ideas and resources and things like that. So, within
my campus I have a lot of people who I can go to and I appreciate that as well. We have an on-site preschool here. To
see their classrooms, to see the language they use with their students, to actually
be in their rooms while their classes are going on, has been a great help for me. Now we have professional learning communities
where we have the preschool teachers, the TK teachers, the kindergarten teachers all
discussing curriculum together; all discussing the preschool foundations, and the common
core standards. Developing the report cards together. Planning instruction. Even developing:
“What should the rooms look like?” I think it’s important to ask for help, whether
it be from another colleague, or from the district, or from parents, you need that help. As we began this process, we weren’t sure
what the outcomes would be. It’s exceeded our wildest dreams, and we just feel like
it’s gotten such a solid start for these children. I would say in my career of over 30 years
it’s been one of the most wonderful programs that we’ve ever initiated, to walk into these
classrooms and see the joy of learning on these younger students’ faces. It’s just been
a very, very positive experience for us. So transitional kindergarten students are
coming in and they have a year’s experience of being in the classroom setting, learning
how classrooms work and so they’re now becoming models for these new kindergarten students
that are coming in. It’s also rewarding as an educator, though,
to know that we are concentrating our efforts not only is that child achieving academically
but we are attending to the whole child. Nothing is ever final. We’re
constantly refining to develop a program that’s going to produce confident learners. I am so glad that he had the option to come
to junior kindergarten. It’s been a really good year for him. He has grown leaps and
bounds, and I feel like he’s so much better prepared to go into kindergarten now versus what he
would have if he’d come straight from preschool. I was very pleased with this year. It’s been
a great year. This is going to make a huge difference in
the child’s life in your community, the academic performance is going to increase. You’re going
to cut down on drop-out rates, low attendance. You’re going to have high school graduates
in children that eventually are going to be out in that community doing good things for
all of us. Transitional kindergarten is the best thing
we’ve done in education in a long time. As a former kindergarten teacher, I know that
this is the most proactive thing. And I can tell by the looks on the kids’ faces, walking
into a classroom, that children experience success from day one, leave knowing that the
future of where they’re going and what they’re doing is exciting, and there’s no way of turning them back.
They know that they can learn, will learn,
and are excited about learning. Have you had a lot of fun this year?
YEAH! We’re at 177.
177 days? Of School.
Of School? See?
Wow! I see that on your chart. What did you like about Junior Kindergarten
this year? I learned my ABCs.
How to Count. In the Junior Kindergarten we had chicks…very
cute ones. But I like the black one. There over there.
That sounds like a lot of fun.
And the chicks just hatched? Mm hmm. But there’s 3 chicks didn’t hatch. They’re s.., they’re so cu…, they are tiny. You learned about frogs?
With tadpoles, ’cause tadpoles turn into frogs.
Ahh. This is really taking forever. Are you ready to go to kindergarten?
Yes. Yes. Yes. I wanna be in fourth grade.
And I wanna be in second grade. I wanna be in 20 grade. And after 20 grade,
is…college! I can go to college. Me too!
No, little kids can’t go to college. Oh God, Adrian, could you please get off me?

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