I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about my one question for the year. I knew that this question would be a hard one for me, but I didn’t expect to fail at it so early on. Here I was devoted to being responsive to kids, and not pushing literacy and math expectations too soon, and yet, I find myself doing exactly that every single time that I open my mouth. Has my training to find the links to reading, writing, and math been so ingrained in me, that I’m struggling with changing a well-formed habit? Or is it more than this?
A few weeks ago, I spoke to my teaching partner, Paula, about this problem. We’ve actually talked about it a few times in the past couple of weeks. So many questions have come out of our conversations, and I’m really not sure where the answers lie.
- If the Kindergarten Program Document rests in the understanding of “noticing and naming” literacy and math behaviours though play, then is it important to make these connections early on?
- If we choose not to push these reading and writing opportunities, will they happen on their own later?
- Many of our kids choose to write notes to each other … even to solve problems. Is this showing an interest in writing that we should be capitalizing on, or is this happening because of how we tend to extend learning?
- If we do try to wait longer before making these links to literacy and math, how long do we wait? Will the opportunity be lost by the time that we try to make this push?
I wonder sometimes if we’ve become so used to thinking about these academic links that it quickly becomes an overwhelming task to avoid making them. This topic came up again today when I ran out this afternoon to pick up a few things for the classroom. I texted Paula while I was at Walmart, and my first text led to a much longer correspondence between the two of us. I later asked Paula if I could use these texts — with some confidential information removed — in this blog post, and she agreed. Below is a look at our texts, which mimic so much of the planning that we do each day.
In the end, I think that we’re still left with more questions than answers, but maybe this one question experience gives me a different kind of answer instead. The process of reflecting regularly on our practice and the choices that we make, ends up telling us even more about ourselves as educators as it does about the learning of our children. In my last one question post, Jill Snider left me this comment.
While I continue to wonder what “responsiveness” might look like in the classroom environment, and if we should be making some different choices, the process of revisiting documentation and thinking critically about our approaches, continues to give me more insight on myself as an educator. It also shows me again about the importance of the kindergarten educator team.
As much of Ontario wonders what kindergarten might look like past next year, I’m hopeful that a play-based program that includes a teacher/RECE team, continues to exist. I usually avoid political topics on my professional blog, but in this case, I need to say something. It’s my connection with Paula, and our opportunity to learn and support students together, which makes the biggest difference for us and for kids. As I continue to work through my one question, I do so happy with the knowledge that I am not alone in this professional journey. How do other Kindergarten teams learn, question, and grow as a team? While I’d love to hear your insights on my “play problems,” I’d also like to hear more about your team dynamic, as I think these stories of success need to be shared. Especially now.
I am looking forward to having a teaching partner next year for the first time. I love your back and forth with Paula and I love that you are wondering if you are pushing the writing too much. I wonder if I’m pushing enough sometimes. I think the important thing is that we are both wondering if. The answer is probably unique to every child at any given point in time. I am going to try some writing conferences with my Kinders to see what my next steps are and if they can identify any goals for themselves as writers. I want to know them better in regards to this, so that I can feel more confident as to the amount I’m pushing them. One of them told me the other day, “I’m done with trying to write my name the right way.” Had it written backwards , partly mirrored letters. I didn’t push and when asked him if he was taking the picture home a couple of hours later, he said no and went and put it on the shelf of unfinished things. He said,” I’m gonna keep it here so I can work on writing my name on another day when I want to do it.” My goal is to get this kind of talk from all of my students, wherever they are in their writing development.
What I really want is for them
to want to push themselves, instead of me pushing at all. #careergoal
I love all your online stuff, Aviva. It helps me to reflect on
my own practice and thinking. And you inspired me to make my own thinking more visible to others through the weekly blog. So thank you. 😊
Thanks for the comment, Cathy, and the very kind words! I love your weekly posts — I always look forward to them — and I can’t wait for you to reflect next year when you start working with a partner for the first time. These back-and-forth conversations with Paula have been really beneficial for my own professional learning, but also as we plan for kids. We help each other think in new ways, and often consider things that we wouldn’t have thought about without the other person. While we have similar philosophies, we also have some different thoughts, and it’s this cognitive dissonance, which I think is so good for our team, and ultimately, for kids.
I’d be curious to know how your writing conferences go. We try to incorporate — and even instruct — in writing all through play, so I’m not sure about a conference approach. That said, for many of our SKs, we’ve started to talk about some goals related to reading and writing, and try to have them reflect on these goals through their conversations with us. We tend to work on this with children as they seem ready for this next step. It’s like that gradual release of responsibility from us setting targets to them setting some of them.
On a different note, your comment about the name printing was an interesting one to me. It made me think about a conversation that I had with our Reading Specialist last year. Is something such as name printing, printing or writing? Is there a difference? For me, writing is all about generating ideas, where printing is about the actual formation of letters on the paper. I tend to see them as two different things, even though at times, there may be some overlap. Curious to know what you and others think.
Thanks for continuing this conversation!
I would name printing is a way for the child to tell that something is theirs, like a label. Labels do serve a purpose. If the name is illegible, others cannot know who made something, so the sharing of your ideas with others isn’t happening. I think the child expressing his desire to produce his name legibly at some point in the future is an indication that he sees labelling as one of the purposes of writing AND that he understands the purpose of writing itself. What do you think?
Thanks for sharing your thinking here, Cathy! I can definitely see the need for this legible writing, and maybe some depends on the purpose of the writing of the name. If it’s being used to label something is that different than if it’s just being written on the top of a paper? But writing names eventually becomes a rote task. When it comes to the act of writing, is it about more than this? Is it about sharing ideas and figuring out how to express them in a written form? How does name printing fit into this? Still thinking this one through … Thanks for pushing my thinking!