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Three members, one opening day

Anna Charland, pre-K teacher

PS 17, Astoria, Queens
New York Teacher

Anna Charland
Maria Bastone
Ready for anything. There are a lot of different feelings you feel the first day. You think only the children are anxious, but so are the adults! You don’t know what to expect or how the day is going to go, but you know you’ll always have one or two children who feel scared. I’ve had really good first days and then I’ve had really bad first days, where the first day was rough and every day after that for a month was rough.

Maria Bastone
Putting routines in place. My first group of nine students came in with their parents from 8:30 to 10, and then the second group from 10:30 to noon. We sang the good morning song we sing every day. Then we had breakfast. Right away my paraprofessional and I were trying to show them that eventually they’ll be doing a lot on their own, so we showed them how to get up, push their chairs in, throw away their juice if they don’t want anymore. We’re trying to put routines in place.

Recess release. We all went outside to play. I felt like they needed that release. As soon as they saw all the toys, they ran and they looked so happy. It was fun for me, too. I played football with a few different children and tried to interact with all of them. There was more of a connection after playing together — they were more relaxed after. Some of them would walk away from me because they were so afraid of me, but by the end even the child who was the most squeamish came over to me and hugged me.

Keeping them togetherAt one point, a couple of children were crying because they didn’t want to follow our routine. Some of them were grabbing things from the music area or from the science area, which is understandable — they wanted to do their own thing. They see all these wonderful toys and want to play with everything all at once. The most challenging thing at the beginning of pre-K is trying to keep them together, trying to explain that we work as a team and we’re doing this now together.

Where I belongI’ve been teaching for 31 years, 10 years in pre-K. Pre-K is where I feel like I belong. We see such a huge progression from the beginning to the end of the year, and it’s so nice to be a part of that. I really have a lot of confidence that these students are going to make great strides this year. We’re off to a good start!