I told myself I would try some new things this year. New routines, new ways of engagement, new record keeping, new reflective practices. I began by:
1) Naming target goals and working to make the majority of my daily activities with my students focused on achieving those goals.
2) Focusing on practices that I hope will build a social climate in the classroom that fosters real empathy, competence and feelings of success.
3) Creating supports for myself that remind me to build in problem solving experiences, play themes and rituals for developing expertise.
4) Recording more with my camera and with daily responses to questions about the “critical aspects of learning” I see in each student which I got from a workshop with David Matteson. (creating meaning – applying prior knowledge to new experiences, problem solving – ask questions when confronted with a challenge, communicating effectively – skillfully articulate learning, working cooperatively – work with others in a way that increases learning, and understanding and demonstrating quality work.)
Progress so far:
I love my new daily routine and the simplicity I’ve built in for planning each week. I’m staying on top of what I need to be doing according to our pacing guide and what I feel is important to develop my student’s social skills, fine motor skills and print/book awareness.
I think I am paying better attention to my students and what they are doing. I’m trying to notice the way my students engage in the work of play and integrate learning from one day to the next. More than that, I’m trying to record my own “ahas” about what I’m seeing and thinking.
I created new small groups today – it is fostering new partnering in play Ms. A likes to group the animals by common features. I sat down to draw a picture with one child and soon the table was full of students drawing. They looked at my picture and tried to replicate it, teaching themselves new skills in the process. We did color mixing with our silk flag painting a few weeks ago – then Mr. S tried it on paper, putting different colors of paint on top of others.
We have a chestnut tree at the end of the field – favorite things to gather on our walks. Add tub, tray and scale – voila – new learning opportunities. Mr. J likes to play in the water every day – every day!— but I noticed that he’s learning and trying out new vocabulary with all the confidence he has with this medium.
It is still a struggle to stay on top of the social services portion of my job – but I’ve made improvements there too. Our data entry system is critical in helping me with that because I can see all my child’s files at once when I’m logged on. (It will help if I’m not asked to duplicate a bunch of record keeping about the work that I do have to do with families.)
Friday I’ve arranged to go and observe another Head Start classroom – something I’ve never done before! I’m sure it will make me think and re-evaluate even more!