Dear parents…

Posted on July 27, 2011. Filed under: Blog on Blogging, edublog, educational, Kindergarten, parents, personal, reflection | Tags: , |

#Kinderblog

Imagine that a parent of one of your students, stumbling around the internet, happened to land on your blog. Not your class blog with your cute photos of all your munchkins and their amazing brilliant work. Your personal teacher-reflection blog, the one where your intended audience is mostly other teachers. Pretend that parent managed to figure out exactly who you were, and that you were their child’s teacher. What would you want that parent to know? What would you say to that parent? Write the letter that you would want that parent to read.

Dear Parents,
I want you to know more then anything that I love your kids. I really do! I try to tell them I love them at least every couple weeks so that they KNOW it and inadvertently, you know it as well. That said, you may have come across my blog, my Twitter account, or my Facebook statuses, and you may have seen that I sometimes write about your children.

I do in fact talk/blog/write about your kids often! They are important to me, and they are a huge part of my day, so of course I talk about my experiences with them.
I want you to know that I try to be very careful when I am talking about your kids. I try not to use their names, and I try not to write about anything that could be hurtful, embarassing, or confidential. That said, I have made mistakes in the past, and I have said and shared things that have later come back to bite me in the butt. I have learned my lesson, and thankfully, none of these things have been online. I am trying very hard to learn where discretion needs to be used, and who I can professionally talk to when I am struggling with a situation.  I will try to explain to you how and why I talk about your kids in the different outlets I use.


Speaking/talking in person: I sometimes have good days and I sometimes have bad days at work. You may or may not be surprised to hear this, but sometimes your 5 year old makes me go crazy! When I come home, I usually share with my husband why my day was crazy. He usually laughs with me at how crazy kids can be, and how I try to handle the tornado that is Kindergarten some days. Other days, something your child says really makes me think, or it makes me sad. Sometimes it has to do with what your home is like. Don’t worry, I’m not judging you as a parent or caregiver. I am just empathizing with your 5 year olds version of what is going on in their little world.  I’m trying to make sense of it in light of my own experience. On these days, I might share your child’s story with another trusted staff member or friend; it helps me gain perspective.  Sometimes, when your child’s story has really impacted my day, I pray for you and your family, and entrust you into God’s hands because we all know my reach can only go so far.


Blogging: Parent, you may have stumbled across my personal blog and read some articles that talked about our classroom, my own teaching, or maybe even your own child. This blog post was probably written when I was unsure about something, and struggling with what I should say or do. My blog is one of the outlets I use to talk things out. I quite often ask for other people reading the post to comment and tell me what they think I should do.  Usually, I hope another teacher reads my post and leaves a comment with their advice on the situation. Sometimes people comment, and other times no one comments, and the conversation ends there. Either way, I hope you can see that the topic I wrote about was important to me; whether that topic was your child, our classroom, or my own teaching pedagogy.  Whatever it was, it mattered enough to me to take the time out of my day to write out my thoughts. I’m not the most consistent blogger, so when I do blog about something, it matters! Please don’t feel strange that I shared about your child, or my classroom issues online. It should make you feel valued. I value your child and their peers enough to write about them and try and get a response that will help your child, his/her classroom, and the way I teach your child.  I promise you, I am blogging about the situation so that I can be a reflective teacher who has the best tools in hand to educate your child.


Facebook: If you are a parent of my student, chances are that I most likely don’t have you on Facebook. If you have added me as a friend, I probably accepted because I feel like I have nothing to hide from you, and you’re probably a really cool person.  That said, I am not the type of person that goes out looking for Facebook friends usually ever, so don’t feel bad if you are not my Facebook friend. However, if you are, you have probably seen that I put “kinderquotes” up quite frequently. These are little quotes that your child and his/her peers say throughout the day. I try and write them down because I think they are hilarious, but I have no one to share them with during the day. I hope you understand that when I write these quotes on Facebook, I am not making fun of your child, or laughing at your child.  Instead, I am enjoying them at this age and sharing that joy with others who don’t get to work with the wonderful age group that I do. I get so many Facebook friends telling me that they love it when I put up kinderquotes because it brightens their day. That’s how I feel. When your child says something funny or cute, it brightens my day as well!  And don’t all of us need a little sunshine in our day?
I hope this helps you understand why I talk about your children, and how I do want what’s best for them. However, if you ever have any issues with me putting information or stories about your child online, please don’t hesitate to let me know, and I will take them off immediately. Your best wishes for your child are most important to me.
Sincerely,
Mrs. Maley

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Help! Can there be a balance between play/Academics in Kindergarten?

Posted on September 11, 2010. Filed under: edublog, Kindergarten, reflection, teaching and learning | Tags: , , |

This week’s post is a reflection on what has happened in my Kindergarten classroom this week:  I was sick and had to book a sub, I survived a meet the teacher night, and I am battling through the idea of meaningful play versus academic/literacy work.

First, I booked my first sub yesterday.  I had got really sick Thursday night during meet the teacher night.  I was shaking, freezing cold, and felt like I was going to pass out.  By the end of the night, I was sitting down behind my desk as parents were coming up to talk to me.  (I know, in terms of teacher etiquette, that’s a big no no, but in my opinion, it was better than passing out into a parent’s arms.)  I decided to keep my hands under my desk because they were shaking so bad; I didn’t want my parents thinking I was a drug addict needing a fix! I had decided to write out a detailed sub plan that night, just in case I wasn’t feeling better by the morning.  When I got home, I hopped into bed and threw a whole bunch of blankets on top of me, and sure enough, 5 minutes later I was sweating and couldn’t handle the heat… Oh the joys of being sick.  On Friday morning I woke up and still felt like I had been hit by a train so I called the sub office and asked for our school’s “resident sub.”  I had heard about her in the staff room; apparently she’s been subbing at Ford close to 30 years.  I figured my kids would be in good hands, so I asked for her.  This was a tough decision for me as I want to give some of my friends who are subbing a chance to work, but I figured that because it is still this early into the year, an experienced sub might be able to handle them a bit better.  I had her call me at lunch time to let me know how things went and she had very nice things to say!

Second thought from this week: I battled a lot with the idea of academics versus play.  I am a very strong believer in play.  I believe that early childhood classrooms should be centered around the play environment, and that play is how children learn.  But, I have also been reading some books that have been stressing early literacy skills.  It says that the best indicator of how well a child will do in Grade 1 is how well a child knows his/her letters and sounds by the end of Kindergarten.  Now the obvious solution to this dilemma would be to teach the children their letters and sounds through play.  Of course! I have in fact thought of that.  But the problem I am facing is the clock.  I usually do my explicit instruction right after circle time heading into table activity time. This is where I try and teach the kids their skills or concepts and do a table activity that corresponds.  This week we played alphabet bingo.  This game was a playful way for the kids to become more familiar with their letters and sounds.  This table time goes great, but I find that the battle is not during the table activity time, it is during free centres time, where the children choose their own play activity.  Centres time comes after snack, which is after recess.  This playtime lasts for about 35 minutes, and I feel like I am running around trying to help the children in their centres rather than observing, questioning and documenting their play.  I want to use the play, debrief, play method where children play, come and talk about it in a circle, then go back and experience it again, but I feel like there is just not enough time in the day.  I have also noticed that the math centre, writing centre, and ABC centre are not chosen as much as the dramatic play, car centre, paint centre etc.  I completely understand why this is, but I am afraid that by the end of the year, if I continue to give them free centres time, some of them will not have had enough literacy/numeracy experiences.  Am I falling into the idea that the “other” types of play (the ones that don’t have to do with letters or numbers) aren’t important? I hope not.  I know the value of pure play, but I also want my Kindergarten’s to succeed in a school system that is heading towards a higher focus in numeracy and literacy.

That all said, my goal this week is to try and appoint some centres experts in the classroom that can answer their peer’s questions about the computer centre, or the music centre, etc.  Hopefully this will free me up to actually have a chance to get around and observe, interact with, and question the children in their play.

As for the discussion around balanced play and academics, I will keep reflecting on it.  I know that being a good teacher means that I need to meet the needs of my students, and I need to be flexible in my practice.

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Is 4 too Young for School?

Posted on July 5, 2010. Filed under: educational, reflection, teaching and learning | Tags: , |

So I have officially been offered a full time Kindergarten position at W.H. Ford here in Regina.  I am extremely excited and I feel very blessed to be given this opportunity.  As I prepare for this job, I am trying to get my act together, and figure out what I want to do this year.  I have already sent out a letter to my student’s parents introducing myself.  I also proposed a “have your teacher over for iced tea” idea, and I have already got 3 emails from parents very excited about this opportunity.  I had heard another teacher talk about how she had done this, and she said it was very successful; especially with EAL families as this idea is more culturally accepted in other countries.  I believe that parents know more about their child than I EVER will, so I want to learn from them. 

One parent has responded to my letter and has questioned whether she should put her 4 year old daughter into Kindergarten yet.  She is a December baby and though she has been in Pre-K for 1.5 years, and knows how to spell her name, her mother is still a bit worried.  The mother’s older son is in high school and just took a Psychology class where they learned about some of the effects a child’s birthdate can have on sports and school.  She wants to know if I have heard of any studies, and she is just generally confused on what would be best for her daughter. 

I am biased because I went to Kindergarten when I was 4, and my birthday is also in December.  I think I did well.  I never struggled academically, and I was still able to make friends, but that was me… and each child is very different.  “The Independent” says that most teachers believe 4 is too young for school, and that Scandinavian countries that start their children in school at 7 score much higher on international tests.  I do agree with their idea that children up to age 11 need a play based curriculum, but I am not entirely sold on stopping four year olds from entering Kindergarten.  I think that if Kindergarten is done correctly, and children are learning in a hands on, child centered learning environment, maybe 4 year olds can be successful in Kindergarten.  Either way, this is just the beginning of my thoughts on the matter, and I am sure I will have more to think about as the conversation continues. 

 Lucky number 5 by Darwin Bell.

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