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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Moving Grades!! EEK

Moving Grades!! EEK

Related Tags: Classroom Management
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4 Replies 266 Views

I am moving from Kindergarten to 5th grade form the 2013-2014 school year. I have taught in either 2nd or kindergarten for all of my 9 years of teaching. I am trying to wrap my head around what to do differently, classroom management wise, for my 5th graders compared to the kinders I have been teaching. What pitfalls do I need to avoid?

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Holly Willis's picture
Holly Willis
Former Social Media Marketing Assistant at Edutopia

Hi Emalaya -

Great question. We've heard this same story from many other teachers that are transferring to new grade levels next year -- You're not alone. To get the conversation started, we asked our Twitter followers for some advice. Here's what they said:

Elissa: For 5th grade, think of where kids need to be @ end of yr, to be ready for MS. Talk to 6th gr teachers.

Then, the power of Twitter kicked in and Marcie helped connect us with Aviva, who just went through a similar transition:

Marcie: Edutopia talk to @avivaloca she made a similar switch for this school year - from Grade 1 to Grade 6

Aviva: I'm happy to chat, or even email, if this person wants to discuss the switch. I taught K-2 for 11 years before Gr.6. (I'll private message you her email address.).

I'd also suggest that you follow or consider joining #5thchat on Twitter. 5th grade teachers from across the country chat weekly on Tuesday, from 8 - 9 pm EST.

Hope this helps!

Eric Anderson's picture
Eric Anderson
Special Ed Teacher for students with emotional and behavioral disorders

If you haven't looked at a book called Yardsticks: Children in the Classroom Ages 4 to 14, then that is a great place to start.

In addition to all of the test prep you need to do, 5th graders need a lot guidance in terms of relationships. Cliques can easily form and relational aggression can be a real problem if not closely watched.

Social emotional learning needs to be given plenty of time. The students won't learn if they get wrapped up in unproductive/unhealthy social interactions.

Lisa McQuatters's picture
Lisa McQuatters
fifth grade teacher from Pasco County, Florida

I have taught 5th grade for 11 of my 13 years as a teacher. It is important to be tough. Not mean, but tough. Say what you mean and be ready to follow through. With that said it is even more important to show them that you truly care about them. They will see right through you if you aren't genuine. They are still little kids on the inside and need you to be strong but also need that loving, caring connection. Have high expectations for all and push them to do their best. They actually do end up appreciating it in the end. I tell my kids, "I expect you to..., I don't want, I don't wish, I don't hope, and I don't dream. I expect." They will rise to your expectations.

Also, use humor. They love it and will appreciate it. Good luck!!

Marc Seccia's picture

I have done it for 8 years and I love it, before that 6 years in 4th grade. 5th graders are that rare combination of adult and child. They are autonomous and still (for the most part) love school. I will say that they are getting more and more mature in their habits and interests (including each other) and that can be very taxing, especially toward the end of the year, so be prepared for it. They love humor and real-world experiences, they enjoy blogging and technology (especially when they feel that they have discovered something new on their own), but most of all, they are still kids that despite the occasional eye-rolling and body odor, love to learn and discover and be made more accountable for themselves. They love to earn rewards like eating with friends or choosing their own seats in a classroom, being safety patrols and monitors for younger students, being a reading buddy for a special ed student, earning special privileges that only 5th graders can get and appreciate, reading and dressing up like characters in their favorite books, team sports and competitive recess games (but not TOO competitive at times, yikes!), oral and powerpoint presentations and group projects, and yes, even quiet time to just sit on the floor with a good book while you get some papers graded. I will say it is WAY more papers to grade than kindergarden, but you don't always have to be "on" like you do in the primary grades, where everything, even a ball of lint, needs to be a show. It's a different mindset, but one I come back to year after year because I love the kids. What they need lately is more counseling, more teachers able to bridge that gap between teacher and psychologist, mentor and social confidant, let them know that it's going to be OK, and that they matter more than a standardized test score or a paper devoid of spelling errors. We hear all the time about certain years being a transitional year, but I assure you that there is no more important transitional year than 5th grade, both academically and socially. Grades still matter, but so does popularity and friendship, and there is more to know about the human adolescent mind than ever before. There are pitfalls and setbacks to be sure, and sometimes you can't reach everyone the way you expect to, but the rewards I feel seeing people come back as young adults and telling me what an effect I had on their lives truly makes every day worth while. I wish you good luck and I hope that the students appreciate how lucky they are to have a teacher that cares enough to find out more about them than most would.

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