The Self-Regulated Teacher

Our personal journey towards self-regulation in Kindergarten

A Book Is A Gift That Can Be Opened Again And Again…

blogA Christmas tradition from our homes has been to give a book bag every year to our children (thank you to Dianne W. for this wonderful idea).

When they were young, we bought mostly picture books, activity books and comics; and although it’s changed to reference books, novels and magazines as they’ve grown older, it’s a gift our kids still look forward to every year. It’s the one present they can open while they’re waiting for the parents to get up. We have to admit it’s pretty funny to walk down the stairs on Christmas morning and see your kids sitting quietly reading around the tree! But it’s extremely gratifying as well.

We thought we’d share with you some of the Christmas books we’ve selected over the years. All of these books are beautifully written, rich with language and charming illustrations. We hope that you might find one (or more) that you would like to read with your child. We’ve indicated all the ones we’ve read in class with a *.

Books We’ve Given….

  • The Jolly Christmas Postman (Janet and Allan Ahlberg)*
  • Christmas Tree Memories (Aliki)*
  • Franklin’s Christmas Gift (Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark)*
  • Gingerbread Baby (Jan Brett)*
  • The Wild Christmas Reindeer (Jan Brett)
  • The Night Before Christmas (Clement Moore and illustrated by Jan Bret)
  • Dream Snow (Eric Carle)
  • Merry Christmas Maisy (Lucy Cousins)
  • Country Angel Christmas (Tomie dePaola)
  • Tony’s Bread (Tomie dePaola)
  • Winter’s Gift (Jane Monroe Donovan)
  • Snowballs (Lois Ehlert)*
  • Little Robin Red Vest (now called Little Robin’s Christmas) (Jan Fearnley)*
  • Attic Christmas (B.G. Hennessy)*
  • Angelina’s Christmas (Katharine Holabird and Helen Craig)
  • Lucy and Tom’s Christmas (Shirley Hughes)*
  • Fletcher and the Snowflake Christmas (Julia Rawlinson and Tiphanie Beeke)*
  • The Night Before Christmas (Clement Moore and illustrated by Tasha Tudor)
  • The Polar Express (Chris Van Allsburg)*
  • McDuff’s Christmas (Rosemary Well and Susan Jeffers)*
  • I Spy Christmas : A Book of Picture Riddles (Walter Wick and Jean Marzollo)
  • Max’s Christmas (Rosemary Wells)
  • A Christmas Story (Brian Wildsmith)*

Recent Book Purchases we’ve made for the Kindergarten

  • Night Tree (Eve Bunting)
  • Alfie’s Christmas (Shirley Hughes)
  • Pippin the Christmas Pig (Jean Little and Werner Zimmermann)
  • Auntie Claus (Elise Primavera)
  • The Night Before Christmas (Clement Moore and illustrated by Barbara Reid)
  • Richard Scarry’s Best Christmas Book Every! (Richard Scary)
  • Olive, the Other Reindeer (Vivian Walsh and Jotto Seibold)

 

We’ve had a really exciting first term in Kindergarten and the children have worked so hard. They were the stars of the Christmas Concert, and we’re so very proud of all of them! We wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and best wishes for the New Year! We look forward to seeing you in January.

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The Annual Christmas Concert…A Measure of Self-Regulation

photo-7As we were standing in line with our classes to go on stage for the Christmas concert yesterday afternoon, we looked in admiration at our adorable “reindeer.”

We already had a dress rehearsal in the morning. We had done nothing in our usual order for a typical Kindergarten day. We sent the children out for morning recess and lunch with the instructions to “stay clean” as they were in their costume clothes for the whole day. Yet despite the changes, by the concert start time at 1:30 pm everyone was still feeling quite cheerful…we might even go so far as to say content. The children were listening well, they kept their focus during their performance and sang sweetly. They walked calmly on and off the stage. We were extremely proud of our little performers.

There are many times in a teacher’s day when the saying “you reap what you sow” rears its head. For example, we know if we do not take the time to carefully explain, practise and reinforce classroom routines all through the Fall, our students will have difficulty in developing the independence we desire to self-regulate within our classroom structure. But it quickly became apparent, as those glittering, red-tinselled antlers sparkled back at us, that we are growing a very fine group of patient, well-regulated children.

The big Fall calendar events that happen in Kindergarten, the Hallowe’en Assembly, the Remembrance Day Assembly and the Christmas Concert, are each in their own way our personal measure of how well our classroom environments and teaching are conducive to the children’s ability to self-regulate.

What have we done so far this year to teach and promote self-regulation in our classrooms?

  • Create a calm and peaceful classroom environment. This includes low lighting, well-organized classroom materials and a reduction in “stuff” lying around
  • Establish routines and structures to give predictability and security to each day
  • Provide times throughout the day for quiet reflection to calm our minds and bodies, often listening to music and practising deep breathing routines
  • Teach weekly lessons to talk about our emotions and socially appropriate ways to react to those emotions
  • Use common language in our school by staff and students to refer to our emotional states

Each one of these factors bears talking about in more detail which we’ll do over the next few months, as well as some of the programs we’re using in class to support our teaching.

 

 

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Library Update – Week of December 8th to 12th, 2014

questions

For today’s library lesson on developing questioning skills, with a focus on thinking, here is the list of amazing questions the Kindergarten children came up with today.

 

  1. What something (ie., spider) is ?
  2. How do you make things (ie., school, money) ?
  3. How do you make paper?
  4. I’m thinking about a fire drill.
  5. Where do monsters come from?
  6. How do you mix dough?
  7. I’m thinking about when your whole world floods.
  8. Where do dinosaurs come from?
  9. Where do leaves come from in the forest?
  10. How do meteors come down?
  11. How do sharks comes out of the water?
  12. How do birds fly?
  13. Where do camels from from?
  14. Where do moose come from?

You can see from their questions that not only do the children think and wonder about many things, but think and worry as well (#7 “I’m thinking about when your whole world floods”). The children will quickly learn that by using the 5 Ws (who, what, when, where, why and how) when asking questions, they will gain much more information, and ultimately a better understanding of their world.

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Holiday Fun – The Reindeer Games

reindeer cupcakes

 

 

We decided to hold the “Reindeer Games” this past Friday to celebrate the upcoming Christmas break with students who are leaving school early for holidays, and will be missing our Gingerbread House Decorating party this Thursday.

We ran the “Games” as a Centre approach, with five different activities.  The children were divided into groups; each table had a different centre with a mom helper so the children simply rotated through each “game.”  We’ve practiced this routine many times before during Math Centres.  The groups change about once a month.  It’s a great way for the children to socialize and get to know one another better, and establish new friendships.

We were very proud of our classes and their ability to self-regulate their behaviour, despite the excitement of a special day.  They listened carefully to the teachers’ directions and transitioned well between the tables.  When we plan a Centre rotation such as this, we plan carefully to ensure there are calming Centres (colouring, play dough) balanced with exciting Centres that require more attention and focus (reindeer bags, cupcake decorating and math patterns) to help with the children’s self-regulation.

Reindeer Games Centres:

-Christmas playdough and cutters

-Reindeer bags

-Christmas colouring books and stencils

-Christmas math patterns

-Reindeer cupcakes

Thank you very much to our parent volunteers who helped to make the “Reindeer Games” possible!

 

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All About Us!

photo-4

Christy and I (Andrea) are Kindergarten teachers in the West Vancouver School District. We met and became teaching colleagues in February 1994. Four children (a daughter and son for me, two daughters for Christy) and nine years later, we decided to job-share at our current school. We started off teaching half-time (three days one week, two days the next) in Grade One for three years. Then our beloved Kindergarten teachers of 19 years decided to retire and we were asked to move to the Kindergarten.

Christy had previously taught Kindergarten, but not me. She bravely led me through the next five years of Kindergarten, each of us continuing to teach half-time, and in half-day Kindergarten. Those were the days of 40-44 students over the course of a day, and the same number of report cards and parent-teacher interviews!

Fast forward to 2011 and the Full Day Kindergarten Program at Ridgeview was implemented. For Christy and I, it was the “divorce” we never wanted to happen. We had enough enrolment for two Kindergarten classes. We decided to each take one classroom, and have continued to plan and team together to teach our students. We look forward to joining forces again one day, and sharing a classroom.

We’re still teaching Kindergarten and still loving it. For myself, it’s a road I thought I would never take. In my 28 years, and Christy’s 21 years, as teachers in BC’s public education system, we have taught from Kindergarten to Grade Four, including Learning Assistance for both of us. We love each grade for what it is; it’s like loving every age your child is at. However, we’ve found over the years that it’s probably the most satisfying and rewarding of all grades because the growth in each child is so huge. Professionally, we think it’s incredible grounding for even an experienced teacher to see how learning in the school context begins. It’s a tremendous privilege to work with our littlest learners and to set the foundation for learning over a lifetime.

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