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back to school

planning-for-learning

Now that the you have had the opportunity to meet your students over the last little while, you can reflect on your daily schedule.  Thinking it Through has a plan for both full and half days.  http://earlylearningcentral.ca/?page_id=1218 .  Some things can’t be changed due to the large schedules within your school,  but you can always try to move things around if they are in the best interest of your students.  Many schools are on the balanced day program with 3, 100 minute blocks of learning.  I always ensure that my students get 60 minutes or more in one of those blocks, and a second block of about 45 minutes.  The reason behind the time frames is to allow the children to explore the centre, select materials, create/manipulate, think and change, discuss, and share their learning without having to rush.  They are learning how to learn!

During these next few weeks circulating the room with children would be a great opportunity to discuss with them what is available in each centre, behaviours, and routines.  Remind them daily of what is available. 

I personally do not designate where children should be nor do I have number limits.  Children move freely to different centres as it sparks their interest.  My ECE partner or myself will call children over to work in small groups during this block of play the other circulates, documenting and asking questions as they pertain to our goals or big ideas for the centre.  All children are responsible for the entire room clean-up.

classroom-environment

Thinking it Through and Primarily Play have some great ideas on how to prepare your learning environment for this September.  As I prepared for my students last September in a newly renovated space, it was difficult to picture how the room should look.  Not only did I need to select suitable furniture that was purposeful, but create spaces where students could gather and engage in various centres.  What I also needed to consider was that my students eat snack and lunch in my classroom so I needed to have enough furniture for that as well.  The furniture had multiple purposes!

Over several days and several discussion with my ECE partner, we moved furniture and carpets into different work areas.  As centres do change throughout the year, for the beginning we had set-up the House centre, a Block centre, a Science centre, the main carpet area with a shelf of various toys like Lego, small foam and wooden blocks, cars and ramps etc., an Art centre, Music centre, Math centre and a reading shelf (which we later changed and are continuing to change!).  We kept the materials to a minimal for the first few weeks of school so we could practice with our students rules and routines, and slowly add as we learning more about them.  Items within the centres had purpose and were organized to engage the students in their new environment.

Next we worked on clutter!  Whatever we did not need we found a storage place elsewhere in the building and we talked both to the principal and janitor to find the space.  Between the two Kindergarten classrooms we worked together on sharing equipment and toys.  Keep in mind this is not an easy task to complete in one day and you for sure will make changes as you see fit throughout the school year.

and-the-junior-kindergartens-arrive

Today was the first day for our Junior Kindergarten students.  Our school board decided to implement a “gradual entry” for the Full Day Kindergarten classes this year.  For the past 2 days, we have only had our Senior Kindergarten children.  Today, we had 16 new children walk into our classroom.  Most of our new friends had visited the school last June.  Some of them had never been there before.

When the morning bell rang, my teaching partner and I were already outside.  We went onto the playground early to welcome the children as they got to school, as well as speak to some of the parents.  When the bell rang, and we tried to show them where to line up to go inside. I am not sure if we had more children or parents who began to shed some tears!  It was a proud moment for those parents, but it was a scary moment for those children (and some of the parents too!).  We tried to reassure everyone that it was going to be a great new adventure, and headed inside.  A few of the children were still teary, but we were lucky….our principal came into our classroom and he assisted us in comforting the new children.  He stayed in our room until all of the children had settled in.

The rest of the day went by quickly, but by the end, we were proud of all of students.  Our Senior Kindergarten children helped the new students throughout the day with routines, and the “rules” of the room.  Our new students, once settled, became excited about being at school and enjoyed their first day of school with us.  We gave them large blocks of time to play so they could learn about our classroom.  This also gave them time to meet and interact with the other children in a non-structured, non-threatening way.

I am looking forward to tomorrow!

first-day-of-school

Today was our first day back at school.  What an exciting time!  I was excited to see all of our Senior Kindergarten students and how they had changed over the summer.  Even though I didn’t have yard duty this morning, I went out on the playground early to say hello to all of the returning students, and some new ones, at our school.  That was one of the best ways to begin a new school year…walking out onto the playground and having some of our students from last year run up to me and be happy to see me. 

For the rest of the day, I tried to pay close attention to the students and how they interacted with each other.  Many of them had turned 5 years old over the summer.  I wanted to see if they come into the room with confidence and excitement, or if they would possibly be shy and quiet.  As most 5 year olds I know, they came in confident and excited.  They were happy to see the friends they had missed over the summer.  They fell back into play together as if no time had passed at all.  So, we gave them the entire day to play and reconnect with their friends. 

I think tomorrow we will give them the same opportunity.

back-into-the-classroom

Today was my first day back in our classroom since the end of the year in June.  I hadn’t realized how much I missed it, until I walked through the door to our room.

Throughout the summer, I had picked up little things here and there.  I had collected flower petals, leaves, art supplies, books, etc…I had thought about our first week of school and what we do.

My teaching partner and I arranged to meet today.  We first discussed what we wanted our first week of school to be like for our students.  Since we became partners, we gave each other respect, and listened to one another’s thoughts and ideas.  We have had been able to do our planning together and work collaboratively for the best interest of our students.  Today, we both had the same thought…lots of play.  This would give us time to interact with all of the children, and to start to get to know them.  It was also give the new students an opportunity to feel more comfortable and secure during their first week at school.

We set up our sand table, and buried crabs with letters on them for the children to search for.  We filled our book centre with stories and picture books about school, being yourself and friendship.  Our math centre has simple math manipulatives, especially lots of blocks in it.  Our art centre has several containers filled with things children can create whatever they want to with.  The dramatic play centre is set up as a house.  On the shelves around our large carpet, we have put toys that can promote fine motor skills, as well as encourage the children’s imaginations.  We have a gas station, trucks, maps, puppets, puzzles, Lego, and other toys for the children to explore.  We will also set up our paint easel before the day begins.

After spending the day at school, I am not only ready for Tuesday, but I am genuinely excited for school to begin!