Kids amaze us! They do so all the time. I remember reading somewhere once — I wish now that I remembered where — that when we see kids as “competent and capable” (a key tenet of The Kindergarten Program Document) that we shouldn’t be surprised when they show us that they are exactly that! Somehow though, as impressed as I always am with our incredible 30 kindergarten students, they still manage to say and do things every day to raise that bar just a little bit higher. This week, we’re about to begin a new month, and my full calendar tells me that we’re almost in the middle of the April/May/June school year experience. As I mentioned in my last blog post, I’m really committed to celebrating the wonderful in these remaining months. The recent surprises below have definitely been my weekly-ish wonderful. 🙂
Wonderful Moment #1: Love! Our students treat each other like family, and they support each other as they would support family members. I continue to be amazed how much love and kindness they demonstrate without any prompting from us. The world is in good hands with this kind of love around!
Wonderful Moment #2: Unexpected Vocabulary Usage A number of years ago, I attended a summer institute at the Board, where a Speech Pathologist spoke to us about the importance of introducing new vocabulary to kids. She said something to me that I didn’t know, and that I also questioned at the time: “If you continue to use the same terms in different contexts on multiple occasions, kids will pick them up.“ Now I’m a word nerd, and I love to learn new vocabulary myself, but I wondered if children would really start using specialized vocabulary even if they heard these words many times. Thankfully I work with an amazing teaching partner, Paula, who does what this Speech Pathologist suggested almost organically. And it works! Listen in the videos below, as kids read, write, and use terms including acronym, objective, momentum, and materials in different contexts. Yes, even our youngest learners should be introduced to these kinds of terms.
Wonderful Moment #3: Growth Identified Many educators know that I’m not a fan of standardized assessments. I really believe in the benefits of pedagogical documentation, and how much learning we can see when we look and listen closely to kids. We can determine next steps through these kinds of observations, much as we can from other assessment data. Now, there are times during the year when I do more formal assessments, and when I see growth through them, I do get excited. One of these times even inspired a tweet of mine a couple of weeks ago.
Formal assessments are not my favourite, but I did a DRA today on one of our kids for my @hwdsb Reading Part 2 course. She started in Sept. at a 2. Now she's a solid 12, & she self-selected the text. She knows herself as a reader. So proud of her! @john_gris @mannyhwdsb @rshwdsb
— 𝘼𝙫𝙞𝙫𝙖 𝘿𝙪𝙣𝙨𝙞𝙜𝙚𝙧 (@avivaloca) April 11, 2019
That said, as exciting as this time was, the DRA (reading assessment) just confirmed what I already knew about this child as a reader. Often though, the less formal assessments are done by Paula and I, and we’re the one interpreting the data. It then came as a wonderful surprise yesterday when our caretaker came in to comment on some notes that children wrote him. They’ve been writing him notes all year, and so, he could also see and “assess” their growth. Listen as he comments on these notes below. Confirmation from others that the growth that you see is also seen by them, makes for a wonderful way to end a Friday!
It’s often these unexpected and terrific surprises that lift us up, even when we don’t realize that we need this. Parents, educators, and administrators, what are some of your wonderful surprises? I may already be breaking my #CelebrateAprilMayJune rule, but as the educational troublemaker that I am, maybe this comes as no surprise. 🙂 Some rules are meant to be broken, especially when it comes to sharing a little extra joy.