By 9:15 am, Monday morning found us in fits of laughter as we watched a wonderful presentation of “Snow White,” performed by the talented drama troupe, Duffle Bag Theatre. The actors involved some of our older students; they dressed the kids up in costume and with great presence and state of mind, our Ridgeview students did a great job picking up on the cues and telling this familiar fairy tale with the professional ensemble.
Tuesday was a special day as we celebrated Chinese New Year. We have a large multicultural population at our school and we’re working hard to recognize and celebrate the cultural holidays with classroom parent support and involvement. We had a fun morning at Centres playing with wooden tangrams; we made lucky money envelopes and scrolls and coloured a sweet Year of the Monkey colouring page. Many thanks to our mom helpers who not only came in
to assist the children at their activities, but also provided a banquet of food such as delicious homemade egg rolls, dumplings, sticky rice and mandarins. Our children took home beautiful lucky money envelopes with a chocolate coin and a tiny lantern apiece.
Wednesday gave us an opportunity to catch our breath and have a self-regulating moment. We returned to our roots and took some time to reinforce our classroom structure, rules and routines at every opportunity and transition. For us, that meant:
- Review “listening with our bodies” (eyes on the teacher, ears are listening, mouths are closed, hands and feet are still, bottom down on the carpet)
- Review Centres playtime rules: four to a group, quiet voices, walking feet, share and take turns
- Transitions: dismissing by table groups/Centre activities to line up with strategic positioning of students (walking feet, go to the back of the line) or move to the meeting area (more strategic seating arrangements); we never let the whole class move at once
- Review eating expectations: quiet conversation with friends, take small bites, chew with your mouth closed, don’t talk with your mouth full, eat over the table, clean your table space and pick up food from the floor when you’re finished eating
- Self-regulation: no matter what is going on in our day, we meditate to quiet music, practise deep breathing, listen to a read aloud story, and eat snack and lunch on time each and everyday. These scheduled times to practise the strategies help us with our self-regulation, are familiar and provide structure to our day, so that when it’s time for instruction, we are in the green (learning) zone and our learning time is optimal.
There’s no doubt our classes are amazing; their ability to focus on their teachers and follow directions is remarkable, and they have very good attention for stories and lessons. But when we have, what Christy and I refer to as “crazy busy days” with multiple changes to our class schedule…well, it’s hard for us, and by “us” we mostly mean the teachers. We’re not all hard-wired to be naturally flexible; being able to deal with changes of all kinds, reading social situations and responding appropriately are important skills that we must teach and practise, at home and school, grown-ups and children alike.
Thursday saw us back at the arena for our last skating session. Thank you again so very much to our parent helpers because we could not do this field trip without you: your calm, speed and dexterity in lacing up skates and sizing helmets for a group our size was nothing less than admirable.
In our two 40 minute sessions we could see the increase in confidence and skill by our young skaters. The children were sorted by skating experience so there were challenges for all. What amazed us the most, however, is how our children, in the 15 minute transition when 36 of our students are changing out of their skates and helmets and the two Grade 1 classes came in to change into their equipment, seemed indifferent to the noise and activity. Instead, they cooperatively removed their gear, remained extremely calm and enjoyed a “pocket snack” they carried in their coat pockets and chatted with those around them. The children were very well-regulated and they made us and our school very proud.
Well, it’s Friday evening and it’s been such a busy week. But we had a lovely day today, finishing up our Valentine’s, Chinese New Year and letter R activities so we can start fresh (mostly) next week. Today was Popcorn Day and as always, our classes wait patiently for the time when we say it’s time to eat and they don’t seem to mind.
We’ve really noticed many big changes in maturity over the past two months, how they respond more calmly to situations and self-regulation of emotions. They’re showing excitement and interest in everything new and beginning to take a few more risks in their learning even if they’re not 100% confident. The children have always been helpful, but lately they’ve taken on more responsibilities in looking after the classroom and their belongings. We’re building a strong foundation for learning and looking forward to what the rest of this term brings!