As summer starts to fade away I am thinking about another wonderful year inside/outside of Kindergarten. What will it be like? How will I connect and engage alongside my students and families? What do I need to do and how will I be inviting others to engage in the learning that is happening? How will I accomplish all of my goals? student goals? parent goals? So I have decided to just breath……
I have to admit that I do some of my best thinking when I am walking or swimming. I always wonder about the connection with exercise and fresh air, so important!
Anyway like many of you I am about to begin a new year. I am so excited and of course my lists seem to be never ending, but I have decided to share a bit about some of the ways I connect with my students and their families before we meet. The relationships that we build are very important because this is where we are able to develop ways to have conversations, engage in meaningful collaborations and connect. This is the heart of our work, our students and their families. They matter!
Last week I offered families opportunities to stop by while I was setting up Kindergarten. This was so successful. Not only do I get to say hello and reconnect with former families, but I also get to meet new people as well. Right away children engage with what interests them. Also former students are great helpers too because they have a sense of some of the things that need to get done and are very welcoming in helping others.
Right away friendships are formed and the children begin to explore materials and their new learning environment while also helping create places for learning.
I always find that parents want to be involved and connected. I think it is so important for all of us to think about this as we begin to create our own learning environments.
I also invited families former and new to engage with our summer reading blog. This was another way that parents could begin to connect and explore what they were reading as well as begin to have a conversation with me about the books they were reading. Again, my intentions are to begin to model “how to” use digital tools in ways that demonstrate how I will be using, my parents and students to highlight ideas and experiences we are exploring as well as how we will be connecting.
I have been thinking lately a lot about the value of learning from each other as well as learning alongside each other. For me I think their is a distinction between these ideas. When I am learning from someone I am watching, listening and asking questions. When I am learning alongside someone I am exploring an idea together with them. We have conversations and opportunities to learn from our interactions. I am thinking this is important because I want to be able to model the value of both ideas.
Some ideas to help build your relationships with your students and families….
- Invite people into your classroom to help you set up the learning environment.
- Look for opportunities in your community that offer ways for new families to connect like an ice cream social, library night, popsicles on the playground! These are all ideas that our community offers for new Kindergarten families, very successful.
- Offer frequent celebrations of learning before school where parents can stop by on their way to work.
- Offer digital tool sessions for your families where they can explore the digital tools you are using as well as how they will be used.
- Invite former parents/students to attend digital tool sessions you offer. This is so successful and has a huge impact. A nice way for parents to hear from other parents as well.
- Set up a class blog! This is a wonderful way to engage and share daily, weekly the how, what and why you are involved in. Your students will look for this as a way to share and have face to face conversations at home about their days in school.
- Project based learning opportunities are a wonderful way to engage families, students and the community you work in. I always begin by asking my students;”What can be we do to help others in our community?” You will be amazed at what your students are aware of and want to do.
- Twitter is a wonderful way to share important ideas and things you are exploring also. Twitter has been a great way for me to be in touch with families and also as a way to model “how to” have a conversation globally alongside others.
- Kidblog is an amazing platform for students. Some of my families have really enjoyed sharing their child’s blog with extended family members outside of Vermont. The children really get excited to think that others are not only interested in their learning, but might leave a compliment too!
Here are just some of my ideas. I look forward to learning what you are doing too. Though our sharing we are able to inspire each other and have our thinking challenged. Wishing everyone an amazing beginning inside/outside of your school!