As I read the previous additions by fellow bloggers, I look for connections to my own classroom, and what I see is the constant of change. We are all working with different age groups, but consider similar topics, such as adjustments to integrate technology, outdoor education, or making learning meaningful. Like others, I am continuously reflecting on my practice and making adjustments. As I am teaching in a new Full-Day Kindergarten classroom, there are many changes that the ECE and I have made in the last 8 weeks.
In September, our days were focused on establishing routines and building a community with our 27 children. The biggest routines were entry and dismissals, learning centres, and independent reading/quiet time. Then, as the children settled into these routines, we constantly re-assessed our schedule. We found that our children are so social, that independent reading is more like a book club with sharing and discussions. So, we now lead meditation and quiet breathing and stretching exercises after our reading block. Some of the children struggle with stilling their minds, while others have embraced it and look forward to this part of our day.
Adjustments to the classroom are also a constant in FDK. As interests in certain areas increase or wain, I change the spaces to accommodate the children’s interests and needs. I also change the materials. The basics in each learning centre remain the same, such as the blocks in the building centre, however, I may add recycled materials, clipboards and paper, or figures to encourage new relationships with the materials.
The planning has become one of the most challenging aspects of the FDK program, as there is no time for the ECE and I to sit down and exchange ideas. I continue to plan weekly with my Kindergarten teacher partners, then I convey ideas to my ECE while we are in the classroom together. I started off the year with my weekly plans in a binder on my desk (as I always previously used them). Then, I realized that it was more beneficial to enlarge them on an 11 x 17 inch page and hang them in the centre of the room where the ECE, and the Special Education Assistant can access the daily plans with ease. We are also using a web diagram to document the big ideas that are emerging in the classroom and the connections to the curriculum, which is visible to all.
Every day at our gathering circle, I start by asking the children, “How do you feel today?” As the children share their responses, I get a better understanding of what adjustments I can make to ensure it is a successful day for all of us. Making adjustments is just another way of being a reflective and responsive teacher.