Here are THE 3 THINGS that have helped me have successful small group time again and again. These top tips may seem small- but they are mighty!
TOP TIP #1: Have a Plan
Plan for what you can control. Many things may be out of your hands until your students are in your class and assessments/observations have been made. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t plan anything small group related.
Start by planning…
- what skills might need to be practiced during small group (use prior experiences to help you decide) and come up with activities you could do in relation to those skills.
- how you want to monitor student progress. What is does your data collection look like?
- how students move in and out of groups. Which missing skills receive the highest priority when grouping students?
- how you will handle students that don’t want to come to small group.
- how you will handle students who aren’t in the skill group, but want to play too.
TOP TIP #2 : Be Flexible
Having a plan is important… but so is flexibility. We work with irrational little humans after all!
- Know that interruptions are coming and be okay with it. Preschoolers are little egocentric beings- so chances are they really don’t care that they are interrupting you. Teach them, but also plan for those interruptions.
- Have plans on what you will do each small group time and with who… BUT give yourself grace. Sometimes children throw us a curve ball. Things in the early childhood world doesn’t always go as planned. Let that be okay. It doesn’t say anything about you as a teacher- it’s just the beauty of working with littles.
- Think of your small group plans (and all your other plans) as a living document. It is always changing based on the needs of your students. It is not set in stone. It is okay to change your plans. The biggest gift you can give your students in the flexibility to change when they need it.
TOP TIP #3: Get Organized
Get yourself started out on the right foot. Having your materials, plans and data collectors ready before you even start small group, will help ease your stress of trying to get it all done and finding out that you are missing the essential materials.
- Have everything in a spot (maybe a rolly-cart or a tub or on a shelf) that is near you during small group.
- Make sure your lesson plans, activities and materials are all in that one spot.
- Collect items that might be needed for small group BEFORE you need them, so you aren’t scrambling while you need them.