Make sure you go to Kindergarten Smiles blog to see lots of other responses!
1. Do you trust your students? How do you build this trust? Are you able to trust them and allow them to be independent throughout all aspects of your day? Are you going to be able to stay out of their way? Yes I trust my student’s. No matter where they are in their development I trust them to learn, to try and to make progress. I build that trust by giving them choices, letting them explore, asking them what they want to learn about and developing materials and lessons that honor them as individuals and as a group. I trust them to be independent and the amount of time I trust them grows as they do. When I listen to them, get to know them and honor their ideas and interests then they are able to be independent for longer periods of time. Remember, I have been teaching Pre-K and this fall I am going to Kindergarten so I have to keep in mind what is developmentally appropriate for them during the school year. Can I stay out of their way? Most of the time, but I have had to develop this skill! It took a lot for me to “let go” of the kiddos and let them develop and grow WITHOUT me telling them how to solve every problem and make every decision for them. And you know what, something amazing happened. They started solving problems, making decisions and becoming more responsible for their own behavior and learning. I wish I would have learned this earlier in my teaching career.
2. How much choice do you give your students throughout the day? (would love for you to share some examples!) Do you go over your daily schedule with your students or is it just 'posted' in the room? By October the kiddos are able to have many more choices during the day than at the beginning of the school year. Learning about their interests helps me develop activities for literacy and math that make sure their choices will help them reach their educational goals. At first I go over their daily schedule every day. After a while, they know they what comes next and like the routine. Many times if they are engaged in a particular activity or something happens (like snow, or rain, or a guest) that warrants a “teachable moment” then we can throw the schedule out the window! Learning is the main goal and that over rides everything else.
3. How are you going to create that sense of community where students will hold each other accountable? At the beginning of the year I have each child create an All About Me book at home. During the first few weeks of school they bring in their books to share with the class. They stay at school the whole year. They share their books with each other during Read To A Buddy time and at morning meeting. They love learning about each other, sharing their books and reading. I have had children be out sick for a long time and the children will go to their friends book and remember their friend by reading their book. I have also had a child move and they chose to leave their book behind. This really helped the other kids remember their friend and deal with “losing” their friend. By sharing their books, they find commonalities with each other and this build community. We also use the Be Safe, Be Kind and Be Responsible format to guide our daily thoughts and actions. This builds a safe, kind and respectful community that they love! They respect and care for each other and their classroom. Here is the link to this free set at Teachers Pay Teachers
4. How do you establish urgency? Again, I go back to my responsibility to get to know the children and their interests in order to create learning environments that they are URGENT to explore. I also dress up to support units (Cat in the Hat, pirate, on and on). They are wild to learn when I do silly things like that! I also like to invite their families to come in and share customs, culture and to act as readers. This creates wonderful urgency for the children because they have ownership of the events and teachers.
5. Stamina! How are you going to build stamina with reading? independent work? Will you use a timer? Will you set goals? This is a new concept for me. I have never really thought about stamina before. I know that I helped the children create it by offering long term reading, writing and project based approach learning activities. You can go to my classroom blog at www.us411.blogspot.com to see lots of long term lessons that required the students to use stamina. I hope you will visit and write me back on your thoughts and ideas on how I can build stamina with my students this fall.