Back in September, you heard us talk quite a bit about the “first six weeks” which is a deliberate practice that gives a community time to establish routines, introduce values, and come together as a community before academic learning begins. Meanwhile -- the last six weeks of school can often seem quite the opposite and more like an avalanche. It most classrooms the end-of-year pace seems to increase as teachers feel compelled to rush through the remaining curriculum and teach to the last second while simultaneously preparing for culminating events. And yet, it is just as important to end the school year slowly, with intention and care and to honor the community you have become.
At PCS, we are conscious of the end-of-year climate and make conscious decisions several times throughout the day, and the week that help us remember what we are here for and to remember what is important.
In kindergarten, we have been slowly spiraling back to September and revisiting our favorite songs, chants, stories and recess games. We are looking at the hundreds of photographs taken all year and remembering visitors, field trips, projects and more. And, each child has been meeting with me one by one to peek back at their writing or numeracy skills when they walked in the kindergarten door for the first time and comparing it to what they are doing now. We are slowly and deliberately celebrating how far each child has come, rather than racing to the end. Showing children how to reflect like this and self-assess is empowering, builds self-confidence, and brings us back together as a community in a new and exciting way as we celebrate all the learning.
Through this reflective process, Kindergarteners have also realized the power of voicing your Hopes and Dreams. Most of their September Hopes and Dreams have come true. We have gone on field trips, celebrated birthdays together, done some cool science experiments and even played football. Beautiful things happen in Kindergarten when you learn to be quiet and still and let the children do what children do best. And just this week, many kindergarteners, without prompting, started talking about, drawing, painting and writing out a new hope and dream for the school year – even though there are only 18 school days left! They have learned that a hope and dream is like a little seed that, when voiced and shared with others can grow into a reality.
Next, Kindergarteners will reflect on all their social learning and think back to the day we created our class agreement -- something that was put in place so that our Hopes and Dreams could become realities. We will ask ourselves how we did, and think of ways we can continue or even do better going forward. After all, the lessons learned this year, whether academic, social, or emotional don’t get left at the door when school ends, rather we want our PCS children to carry everything outside our walls and keep going.
Some of the things kindergarteners said they learned to do better:
- We learned to clean up better and quicker so that we can go outside for more fresh air.
- We got better at sitting on the rug without rolling all over the floor – or each other.
- We learned to make apologies of action. "I'm sorry, is there anything I can do to make it better."
- We learned that it feels great to be included, and we should look for our friends who might feel excluded. -- But also remember that sometimes people just need a little time to themselves.
- We figured out how to use glass jars, beakers, and test tubes and not break them. (well we did break some but not too many - and not recently)
- We love the way our cubby area feels when we line up our boots neatly and wipe everything out once in awhile.
- We don't have to ask a grown up help all the time. If we think about it for a minute, we can usually figure out how to do something ourselves.
- We learned that simply smiling at someone or using their name can make them feel so great.
We started the school year with hopes and dreams and are ending it with hope and pride. In between all the reflecting we have been coming together to enjoy some of our favorite playful times, block building, running in the grass, free draw, and clay and been out for the children to enjoy.
Finally, THANK YOU so so much for the beautiful birthday surprises. The kids were so excited to celebrate my birthday in school. We made an apple pie and had a dance party – two of my favorite things Making memories. Building a community.