Are New Teachers Prepared for the Challenging Students?

As a kindergarten teacher I am often the first responder- if you will- to notice a student in need of extra support. Kindergarten teachers are on the front lines. We are often a child's first exposure to a school setting, especially for students who attend title one schools.

Are New Teachers Prepared for the challenging students? So many come to us with a carousel of baggage that we are so unprepared for. Upon their arrival they unpack it right in our classrooms for the full 180 days and wear out their welcome quickly. Even as a veteran teacher, I find myself continually looking for support via online groups and blogs. There are only so many tricks I have up my sleeve. Every kid is different and I find myself searching for new ways each year to best meet their specific needs.

Although we have only been in school less than 10 days, I have already put into place

  • Calm Down Corner
  • Break Bin
  • Door Alarm
  • Token Board

Calm Down Corner

Create a Calm Down corner in your room for students to take a break, get their self composed and be able to return to class.  You can get my I Need to Calm Down kit from TpT
This is a small area off to the side in my room.  I have a break box there as well.  In the box is a picture card flip book that comes with my Calm Down Resource. The student can choose an activity to do before returning.  We set the timer,  they take their break and then they return when timer goes off.  So far so good.  I also use the feelings chart on the wall with them to see what caused them to get to that state that made them need to use this area.

Items in the break box

Break Box for kindergarten sensory items from Amazon
Most of the items in the break box I have purchased on Amazon.  I have an entire section in my Amazon Shop dedicated to Sensory and Calm Down items.  I have since added to the box since this photo was taken.  The students really like the water sensory toys and the Theraputty.  You can click the Amazon link above to take you directly to the items that are for Calm down areas and bins. or visit my Amazon Shop herePlease note that these are affiliate links.

Door Alarm

Do you have a runner?  I have 3 doors and we all know your eyes can't be on every student at all times.  I have found the perfect solution.  This magnetic door alarm works perfectly.  It has two modes- 1 a loud beep as if you were walking into a connivence store, or an alarm.  The way it work is once the tow magnetic pieces are separated the alarm is activated.  I used sticky back velcro to adhere to the doors.  As soon as I here the sound- I can grab the walkie-talkie and radio for help.
Wireless magnetic doorbell use with students who run/elope from classroom

Token Boards

I have started using a token board with one of my students.  This is something a co-worker lent me. Basically, it is a system where if you do this, then you earn a star. When he earns 3 stars he earns iPad time.  

The BIG Question???

How do new teachers manage and cope with these students? I am a veteran teacher and even I find all of this challenging. How do new teachers with very little experience handle all of this? They do not teach you this in your credential program. You may see some of it in student teaching.


The best thing you can do is keep data. Yes, it is time consuming, but the only way to get help is to have proof that the child needs it. Show them the data. There are all sorts of data tracking sheets out there. Find one that is easy to manage or create one. You want something that you can just check off or circle the actions. Keep it on a clipboard and have a stack of them predated ready to go.

Ask for Help

Ask for help, there is nothing wrong with asking for help with a difficult class. Find a mentor at your school. Ask them for suggestions to help Johnny. Sometimes it may take a few days for a child to settle in, but sometimes, there is way more going on. Talk to your special education team. Ask them if they can come observe a student to offer suggestions so you can help meet their needs. Once they are in the room. They will then see there just might be more going on.

Don't Just Assume

Don't just assume every child who acts differently has something wrong, has a learning disability or has autism. There are many reasons children stand out from the rest of the class. They could alos have a visual perception problem or hearing impairment. It could be they have never been away from their families and the loud and large classrooms is way too much for them to take in. Think about it. All of a sudden their parents just leave them for hours with a bunch of strangers. Then there is the facts that maybe they don't speak English either. Well that is a lot for a little person to take, so yes, they might flip out, act weird have a tantrum, give them time.

As a veteran teacher I have seen a lot of kids come through my doors where their parents had no idea there was anything wrong with their child. It is a heartbreaking task to be the first person to suggest to a parent that there could be a learning disability or more such as autism. Working at a Title 1 school it happens more than one would like. So many of our families do not have regular doctors, only clinics. The doctors just see a well behaved child, they aren't taking the time to talk to the child if they did, they would see that that child is language delayed, can't answer a question and so forth.

New teachers I fear are not equipped to handle much of this. Sure they can deal with the sweet children but what about the violent ones, which I have yet to talk about. They are there. It is sad but true. Believe it or not, even in kindergarten we have children hitting their teachers, telling us no, and throwing furniture. New teachers are afraid to say anything for fear they won't be hired back, so they take the beatings, literally. I myself was injured by a student several years ago. I have continual pain in my wrist which will never be the same. I documented the incidents and used the word lawyer- he was removed from my room. I'm not sure if the L-word is what casued his removal or not, but I'm sure it helped.

As teachers we need to stand up for our own safety and that of the other students in our rooms. The parents won't- especially if you are teaching at a school where the majority of your population is non-English. I believe they are afraid to speak up, so they just take it. Sadly, it is their child that suffers. The best you can do is encourage them to speak up for their child's safety.

I'm here if you need support- leave a comment- Drop by the FB group. Join my Email List
We are in this together.

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Do you have a challenging class of students who may have special needs- here a few quick tips to help

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