November 2, 2014. Seriously? I promised to stop and smell the roses, to reflect on my practice, my kids and life more frequently and somewhere down the road I seem to get too caught up in living it all to actually stop. Last year I wrote three blogs. THREE. I vow to make a conscious effort to do this more. I’m setting a reminder on my iPhone as we speak.
September started out completely differently this year. I was in my class during the summer so the final stressful push before school started was much more relaxed, sort of. After attending another Read Well training this summer I felt prepared and ready to take on the year! It also could have been my visit home, my trip to Hawaii (where I caught up with my favourite Aussies in the most incredible place), or the road trip to Alberta with my boyfriend, my brother and his girlfriend who came for a visit this summer. Needless to say, it was a good summer…
Back to business….
My theme this year is “Miss C’s Magical Kingdom” or “Once Upon a Class”, emphasizing pretend play, fairy tales and believing in all that is magic. It’s funny, as a new kindergarten teacher you come in so hot out of the gate – you focus on all academics and all you want is those little ones to leave you reading (which we did with kinders reading 58 words a minute at the end of last year). You get so caught up on the lesson number, getting through the assessments, sticking to the timetable and all the programs you forget to give them time to be kids, at least I did. I didn’t completely forget, but it definitely took the back burner. I never claimed to know it all, but I thought I was doing a pretty darn good job. The amount I learn from my colleges (both near and far), my kids, and from simple trial and error – I can feel myself doing a better job day by day. I will only be as good if I continue to learn, to grow, to allow for constructive criticism, for being open to change and embracing technology. I learned this year a powerful lesson. Being present and in the moment is the best gift you could give your kids. This year I feel more confident with a healthier balance, a better understanding, and a stronger grip on this whole teaching thing…
Some snaps from around our room :)
So anyway, back to September. It was filled with a castle entrance, princesses and pirates and a lot of imagination. We went whale watching again – which we were completely spoiled to see many porpoises (who used the boat as a toy, creating one of my hands down favourite memories), humpback whales, dolphins, sea lions and SO MANY ORCAS. I’m talking about two pods with at least a dozen killer whales…if you know me; you know that I’ve fallen in love with this ocean and those magnificent animals. So needless to say, I was crazy happy. We also spent a lot of time focusing on rules and routines, celebrated Grandparents Day, had Smokey the Bear visit, learned about pictographs, had Crazy Hair Day and finished off our senses unit with Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do you See and Polar Bear Polar Bear What Do you Hear.
|Whale Watching :)|
Getting outside, enjoying the raw natural beauty
|We started making Learning Goals and Success Criteria (Thank you Damian Cooper!) on a daily basis. We set CLEAR EXPECTATIONS - each students exit card is reflecting on this, showing us their understanding.|
|Working on our pictographs! #KSchool style!|
|Mr. Potato Head is GREAT for kinaesthetic learners!|
October was a busy month too! We started our small groups with Read Well and focused on finger tracking and first sound fluency. We introduced and mastered the words: I, I’m, a, see. We counted to 100 by ones, and by tens (forwards and backwards), and fully grasped the days of the week order. We had a two-week Careers Week this year with trips to the grocery store, the post office, the police station, the fire hall, and the library. We talked about what it means to be thankful, and how we should be appreciative all the time, not just on one day. But it is nice to sit down with your family and share a meal.
|Our trip to the PHFD|
October also means Benchmarking time. This year I was anxious to assess our kindergartens. Last year we structured their PreK program to be mostly academic based, but in a fun hands on way. They followed the Alphabet knowledge portion of the Read Well K program giving them a strong understanding of letter names and sounds. Our results proved that an academic pre school program makes the biggest difference! We would have the kids build the letter with their bodies, use playdough to make letters, and make animals out of bubble letters (turning the letter S into a snake). Our beginning of the year DIBELS benchmarks showed the following data. Based on 9 students, we had four students performing at grade level (green), three approaching (yellow), and two below (red). This is an incredibly strong start, one we are so proud of.
Next up – Halloween! We really do have a lot of spirit at K’ak’ot’lats’I School; every single student and staff member was fully decked out in their creepiest, crawliest, most Elsa-like dress ready for a fun day. We talked about how to stay safe while trick or treating with our liaison officer, we carved a class pumpkin, went cosmic bowling as a school and had a class party. Complete with a cakewalk, James and the Giant Peach, creepy crawly guessing bins and rice crispy shaped/coloured pumpkin treats – it was a great day.
|Cleaning out Pumpkins!|
We were also incredibly lucky to gain a new member to our staff this year. Our culture teacher has taken Quatsino and really strengthened our community spirit and unity. He started hosting culture nights with dancing and singing with all members of the community including our respected elders, youth and young learners. He worked with our students to prepare them for a Cultural Welcoming Night where they blew us all away with their dedication and talent for dancing. Quatsino is allowing a TV show to use their land for a project, so to welcome them there was a traditional seafood feast followed by a night of dancing. I feel so blessed to be a part of such a rich culture. The emotion that is demonstrated, the stories that are told – it is all so incredibly powerful – needless to say I was holding back some happy tears. The amount of knowledge we have gained from this teacher is incredible. In such a short time I have learned to count to ten, colours, animals, emotions, and many myths and legends. We have learned so many dances and songs too. It is definitely a highlight of my year so far!
This year has been so full of learning, laughing and energy already. With Christmas sneaking up around the corner, I can't wait to see what magic we have in store for us.
All my love,