I feel like I am going through four stages of preparation (usually every day). The first stage is worry. I worry about if my research will yield any conclusions? Will I be able to get to all the learning centers and observe them over the two weeks? What outside issues will arise that could upset my learning center plans (like having a dentist visit all the kindergarten classrooms or the Army band coming to play for the school during my research weeks)? How am I going to schedule around these issues and still have math and learning centers on those days? Which of my kindergarteners will be okay with me asking them questions after learning centers? I have had a lot to think about and new challenges arise every day.
The second stage is my eliminating worries stage. This is where I do much of my planning. I take each worry and brainstorm solutions, if possible. If there isn’t a solution, then I push the worry aside and focus on what I can control. I know that if I stick to a schedule, I will be able to observe all my learning centers in a two-week time period. I can tweak the daily schedule on the days that the dentist and Army band visits. I could try to incorporate our math lesson into the centers and not have to worry about teaching math separately. Our math program has many different learning center ideas and games. I know my students and there are students that are not shy about voicing their likes and dislikes, so those students would be good in a control group.
My third stage is acceptance, which I struggle with because I want to be able to control everything. I have to accept that I have done my best to set up research that will give me conclusions. I have a plan and I will be prepared. I have thought through my research plan and I can do it. If things go wrong, which they will, I am capable of “punting” and changing directions quickly. I think on my feet and problem solve every day. My students are flexible and understanding. I need to remember that this is a process and I am new to conducting research. It will be okay.
The final stage is putting the pieces together. I plan the curriculum I want to address at each learning center. I gather materials and supplies that my students will need. I create and make copies of picture instructions for my students to follow. I outline the expectations that I want to share with my students. I print my observation materials and visualize how I’m going to observe my students. I think about where I should sit so I am close to them, but not intruding on their learning experience. I put together my own tub of supplies to make sure I have everything I need when observing my students. I remind myself that I even though I am a first year teacher, I am capable and every day is a new learning experience for my students and me.