It is August, and we are in the heady mix of preparing our brains and our classrooms for the year ahead. A new team of kindergarten players (welcome to Katie), fresh supplies, new ideas, unfamiliar schedules, and most importantly, a newly minted list of kindergarten names have greeted us as we returned this week to 9th Street. I have been in this game for a long time now, for I am beginning my 41st year in the classroom. It is very easy to get entrenched in the same path I have followed, thinking of things we have done that have been successful. How can I keep my thinking fresh and alive? There are some pieces of the kindergarten beginnings that I would have trouble giving up, such as the letter we send to the children with all the “stuff” to remind them of our year ahead (a life saver to remind them that we are always there for them, a tissue so they can help dry a friend’s tears, a penny to let them know they are valued). I try to think about the WHY when I am considering the pieces we like to include in our beginnings. The WHY of this letter we send is that it is child friendly, it has visual and tactile reminders, and there is a link to literacy for when they see the same words when they come into our classroom.
I have young blood with Katie in my class this fall, and she will help to bring a fresh perspective to all that we do. I also want to stretch the beginning of the school year to include much of the Reggio Emilia work that I began where we left things in June. I want to make sure that the Reggio approach is clear in our work in Choice Time as we begin our time together, and that I include some of the gleanings from my summer reading as I think about the first meeting with parents during our Open House in late August. As we build our year together, I want to include the documentation that is so much in evidence in Reggio Emilia, and to make sure that this documentation is clear to everyone, from parents to other teachers to visitors in the school. Another of my goals is to include technology as a part of the documentation by putting the iPads in the hands of our little ones so that they can record each other as they explore the topics we undertake.
So here we are, with just a short week before the true beginning. When the children enter our room next Tuesday, there will be no turning back. We will be immersed in the river of children, swimming along with them as we make our way together. Our best laid plans may come to naught when we meet these little ones, for they will help us as we chart our course through these unknown waters. The children will help us as we guide our way along, for through their interests, their passions, and yes, their needs, our way will be made clear. Our job is to keep our eyes and hearts open, looking for the current that will lead us during the course of the year. Carpe Diem!