We just finished the first full week of school. While our kindergarteners were in for two days last week, that doesn’t quite compare to a full five this week. I’m #FirstWeekInKindergartenTired today, but I’m also really happy. Looking back at the documentation that we shared this week, I realized that there are many different things that our students taught me. Some are funny. Some are deep. And some are just important reminders that I really needed.
As hard as it is to do, sometimes I have to watch more and talk way less. I keep on thinking about what I would have missed if I told these children to keep their lids on their new markers. Markers can be replaced, but what about this learning opportunity?
All learning was not lost with the pandemic. I know that the pivots between in-person and online for the past couple of years have been a challenge, and yes, we’re fortunate that so many of our students could join us in both environments with the support of their parents. It was amazing to see throughout the week what stuck with kids. While many demonstrated the same, or stronger, reading, writing, and math skills than they did in June, they also remembered, discussed, and extended learning around The Arts, diversity, equity, and the environment. What might this mean for how our learning progresses throughout the year?
Sometimes you need a new perspective. This can include sitting on the floor, but occasionally, lying on it is better. I see my teaching partner, Paula, getting down low all the time, and it’s interesting how much you can blend into the background when you do so. I wonder if kids pay attention to you less down here, which can help with observing a lot more.
Take the time for independence. It’s often so much easier for me to do things myself, but what are kids learning if I always do things for them?
Documentation at eye level makes all the difference. How can we do this more when wall space is not always accessible and bulletin boards are high?
It’s possible to meet a range of needs all at the same time. I’m not going to say that it’s easy, and at times, it might be really challenging, but reconsidering space can sometimes help. Paula and I found that this past week when we looked more closely at the additional sink area. Is sensory play what some children need most of all? Could this be true beyond kindergarten, and what might that look like?
If we want kids to wander less, do we also need to stay still more? Paula speaks about this all the time, and models it often, but I was struggling with figuring out what this looks like when children all need to be in their own spaces. I wonder if moving a chair to a couple of different areas around the room might be key. There was an amazing settled feeling to the room when I moved around a whole lot less.
Sometimes a new area is all it takes. Yes, kindergarten in the time of COVID involves desks. We have limited control over the environment. It was amazing to see though how moving some students around made all the difference. This will surely not be the only time that we do this. Do we need to consider this option more often that we usually do?
Wait things out, even when that waiting can sometimes be uncomfortable. As I’ve spoken with Paula about before, I find it so hard to watch kids seemingly doing nothing. Just sitting there. I want to intervene. I want to engage them in some way. I want to problem solve for them. I know that this sitting and watching happened pre-COVID, but with all students in their own spaces now, it’s so much easier to see. I’m glad that I resisted the urge to intervene quite as much this week. Sometimes letting the watching happen can lead to something wonderful if we just provide enough time. Now how to continue to resist this urge?
Take the time to look closely and wonder lots. I’m sure that I’ve found many bugs on the floor before and thought nothing of them, but watching our kids examine and discuss them had me paying more attention when I found one on the floor yesterday. It even inspired a question of my own. How do we model for children that we’re inquiring along with them?
Don’t underestimate what kids can do, just based on their age. Yes, kindergarten is not new to me, so this shouldn’t be new learning, and yet, sometimes I need the reminder. Be it solving my muddy situation, figuring out why our mirrors were so blurry, or demonstrating that believing in kids (and kids believing in themselves) is sometimes all it takes, this week reminded me that age is just a number as much in K as it is when we get older.
Children do remember more than just lunch and recess. At the end of the day, Paula has started to ask the students about their highlights. I know that many educators and parents joke about the answer to the question, “What did you do today?,” and the popular response of, “Nothing.” It was interesting to hear what moments did stick with students though. So many of them were from our time together outside, which is actually how we begin our day, but what resonated even at the end of it. Is this because students can interact more closely with each other in the outdoors? If the outdoors are so special for kids, how can we bring even more of this learning inside and connect the two spaces more seamlessly?
So much happens over the course of a week, that it’s easy to lose perspective. At times, I find myself getting caught up in what’s not working well or what changes we’re going to make next without necessarily reflecting on what is working and what I have learned. Doug Peterson is one of my favourite bloggers, and I always start the day with his posts. He’s often reflected before on why blog, and this week I thought of another reason: to think more about what children have taught me and the impact that this might have going forward. What have you learned from kids this week? I wonder if sharing this learning might even have us watching and listening more for the multiple nuggets of goodness from even our youngest of learners.
My first reaction – well, there’s a year of schooling encapsulated in a week! And, I do enjoy the colouring. It shows where one thought stops and where another starts.
The one word takeaway that I would have from this post is “observation”. You seem to have done a ton of that in this reflection.
Nicely documented, Aviva. I hope that you’re relaxing this weekend because you get to do it all over again next week.
Thanks Doug! That was my thinking around the colouring, especially in this post, as each idea includes some embedded Instagram posts.
Thanks for also mentioning “observation.” As we get to know our new learners and re-connect with our ones from last year, looking closely has been our goal for this past week. We’re definitely planning on observing more next week. Have a great weekend!