Help me do it for myself.

Montessori in a Dene Kindergarten – Montessori in a Dene Grade One Classroom

Archive for June, 2010

The Changes Begin

Posted by mrsmelva on 30/06/2010

I went to the school this morning to start on my classroom. I didn’t expect to get a lot done but thought I might as well start. I grabbed my laundry hamper and took it to the laundry area by the gym, but discovered some laundry in the washer unfinished due to the frequent power outages we’ve had, so I dealt with that load and left my hamper. When I returned to the classroom I went on a hunt for my speakers and got my itunes going to keep me motivated. With my music playing I began moving in 16 desks, yikes, I don’t like desks. I like tables and floor, but those are only options along with desks in grade 1 at our school, not in lieu of desks. Then one of the janitors showed up and he asked the three summer students to help me move my things back into the classroom. They were very willing and in less than an hour we had everything in the room.

shiny floor and open space

more shiny floor and open space, book racks and science shelves

my desk area, it won't be empty for long

fridge, stove, snack table - where are they?

We started by moving the filing cabinet and desk into the corner, since they were the heaviest and needed to be put in the corner. Then we put shelves behind the desk and put in the fridge and stove.

desk area, desk is hidden by the brown shelf on the left

fridge, stove and snack/guided reading table

Where do I go from here, everything is bunched in the middle and piled on top of the desks and shelves. I need to think about the different work I will have for the students and how best to set it up for their use.

yikes, lots of stuff, can't even see the shiny floor, science shelves are way back in the corner

I decided to set up the other guided reading table and my paint drying rack and cart with some of my art supplies. I may switch  the two guided reading tables, I will have to walk around when everything else is in place and see how the traffic flow works.

guided reading table and paint drying rack

The shelf on the left will have art supplies that the children will have access to at all times. There will be more supplies on another shelf nearby that they will have ready access to as well. I will have some blank booklets for them on these shelves and some painting supplies, as well as paper, glue, markers, crayons, pencil crayons and a variety of collage materials.

the infamous desks

For now I have the desks in four rows of four, luckily I got desks that are all the same size. I can use different sized chairs if necessary to adjust for different sized students. With that done, I switched the laundry and went home to think more about the classroom and get ready for another day of organizing.

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Chrysalis Time

Posted by mrsmelva on 28/06/2010

On May 27 this year the Assistant Principal called me to the office and informed me that I would not be teaching kindergarten next year. She offered me a “choice” of grade 1, 2 or 3. It didn’t feel like much of a choice since my heart is in kindergarten and always has been. However, that was obviously no longer an option so I “chose” grade 1, thinking that it is the age closest to kindergarten of the three, and that I would be able to continue to teach as an early childhood, Montessori thinking teacher. In my studies of course, both undergrad and graduate, early childhood education encompassed birth to 9 years old, so that even grade 3 should still be considered early childhood, but reality in the school system is different. I was numb at first, deeply sad but unable to express the strong emotions I was feeling. Part of this was a conscious effort on my part to not let this cast a  shadow on the last weeks with my wonderful kindergarten class, and part of it was a subconscious self protection strategy to maintain my personal sanity and work through the feelings in an appropriate way.

My mood picked up when I got my actual class list for next year. Each year, even the many years I stayed in kindergarten, the end of the school year is a very bittersweet time, but when I start looking at the list of incoming students my mood picks up, so I turned to that list the day after our last student day and began to look forward. I will have 16 students (at least at the start, it could change if more students move to the community). I have taught them all previously in kindergarten so I know them as individuals. The ones that I taught this year I know exactly where they were academically and socially at the end of this school year. There are also some who are repeating grade one for the first time and two who are on their second repeat, but I have also taught all of them one or two years ago, so I do know them and it will be good to get reaquainted.  It is an even male female split and the reading levels range from 1 to 5. I do know that some of the level 1 students really need a lot more sound work before formal reading instruction, and some are now ready to dive into guided reading. Some of the students have been identified as having special needs and have personal program plans.

While I will need to follow the curriculum for grade one and use the required materials, I can still adapt those needs so that I am following the child and teaching each child from where he/she is at. I can still structure and prepare my environment to allow for student choice and independence.

This summer will be my chrysalis time as I learn the ins & outs of the grade 1 curriculum and the programs mandated by my school and division administration and try to integrate them with my knowledge, beliefs and philosophy of children’s learning and synthesize it all into something that works for me and my students, and the powers that be. The caterpillar does not die in the chrysalis, it changes, but even as a butterfly, it is really still the same being at the core, my challenge is to become a grade 1 teacher but not lose my core as an early childhood educator following each child and helping them do it for themselves.

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