The Self-Regulated Teacher

Our personal journey towards self-regulation in Kindergarten

Year 2:  Happy Anniversary to The Self-Regulated Teacher!

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It was a quiet celebration, attended just by Christy and myself, but December 10, 2016, was the second anniversary of our website, The Self-Regulated Teacher.  As of today, we’ve written 147 posts and been viewed 19, 257 times by readers from all over the world.  Although it might not seem like much, we’re pretty proud as our main purpose was simply to provide an extra layer of parent-teacher communication for our classroom parents.  The fact that other educators are reading our work is high praise and we’re delighted that they would also spend a few minutes from their busy day to drop by.

Last year one of our classroom parents was telling us how much their family enjoyed the website, and they loved reading about what their child was doing in class.  They felt so informed about what was happening in the classroom, and could take the information we shared to remind their child about teacher and classroom expectations.  But they also raised a really good question, which was did we regret starting the website?  After all these months were we tired of writing?  She was concerned it was taking a lot of time and we felt pressure to keep writing.

But we’re still very happy with our choice to create and write for a website.  We want to share what we’ve done in our day with our Kinders, our thoughts and reflections about how things are going.  The writing is fun and easy and with Google Docs can be done anywhere (yes, some of the posts have been written on an iPhone).   We take lots of photos of our students’ work and classroom to try to show as much as we can of your child’s learning environment.  Although we still have parent-teacher conferences, and lots of “hallway chats,” it’s wonderful to have a record, in writing and with pictures, of what happened in the magical year we call Kindergarten.

On our second anniversary, we’ve updated our About Us post to reflect where we are now in our teaching.  It’s located on the menu on your right hand side of the home page; you can also read Our Story which is the story of how we became The Self-Regulated Teacher.

 

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Summer is (Almost) Over Musings and Some Back to School Shopping

IMG_1448It’s been a gorgeous summer, filled with aquamarine skies and tropical waters, sandy beaches, barbecues with friends and families and lots of gardening.  Although we’ve travelled to places near and far, there’s nothing quite like coming home and the comforts of your own space and bed.  That’s probably more indicative of our age, but it’s a conversation that can be revisited at another time, cool drink in hand.

 

My dad used to always say that time goes by faster after your children are born, and in our families,IMG_5655 that is certainly true.  We don’t think just about the days and weeks anymore; instead, we find ourselves measuring time by years, holiday celebrations and the summer holidays.

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This summer was particularly poignant as my daughter graduated from high school and so begins her next journey in education:  University.  It’s such an exciting time for her, and we’re so delighted as our own memories of University life are very special.  Back at home, Christy and I each have a child going into Grade 12 this year so I’m back on the graduation wheel of special events but this will be it for me (apparently with a son it’s supposed to be simpler?).  Christy’s youngest has a few more years in school so she will have a bit of a breather between her girls.  It occurred to me that Christy and I are closing the circle as parents of school-aged children, and this will be reflected in our blog as we think about Kindergarten within the context, and as the foundation, of public education this year.

And now onto business.

Although many people don’t realise this, it actually takes a great deal of time to wind down the classroom, and ourselves, after a busy year of teaching.  There is a lot to clean and tidy in a Kindergarten classroom and we are usually in school for another week or two, depending upon what projects we might be up to.  When we’re finished, we definitely try to relax and “let it go.” But school is never really far from our minds, because in just a matter of days after starting our holiday we found ourselves out and about and shopping for some great resources for our classrooms this fall.

Whenever I go to Victoria, British Columbia, I love to visit my favourite teacher’s store, Schoolhouse Teaching Supplies.  I’ve been shopping there for a number of years now and they always have such fantastic collections of books, teaching resources and supplies, stickers and classroom decorations.  The lovely shopkeepers are happy to order things in for you, if you’re looking for something specific.  We need to replenish our alphabet stickers, calendar pieces, birthday certificates and cloakroom tags every year, and sometimes a pretty new bulletin board border is just the perfect finishing complement to an art display.

Some of the treasures of our most recent shopping spree

Some of the treasures of our most recent shopping spree

On this particular visit to Victoria, we wanted to do a mini bookstore tour so we took a day to go to the downtown Chapters, Russell’s New and Used Books and Munro’s Books.  We hadn’t been to Munro’s for a long time but our son’s English teacher had recommended he go there the next time we were in town.  Munro’s is in a beautiful, high ceiling space on Government Street and very wonderful it is with not only a well-curated collection of books and fun “bits and bobs” for the literati (think cute book lovers’ tote bags, book labels, cards and papers) but they also have an outstanding children’s literature section.  Naturally, we couldn’t leave empty handed so we came away with these beautiful new alphabet books:

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And I had to buy this adorable tote:

I <3 Darcy

I ❤ Darcy

Back at home, when we thought we couldn’t possibly buy anything else for school, we were having lunch in town with a colleague and walked past Vancouver Kidsbooks at their new Broadway location on the way back to the car.  Although our usual neighbourhood haunt is our adored Kidsbooks in the Village store in North Vancouver, this larger store is pretty amazing.  There are just so many beautiful books for children from infant to young adults, and toys, puppets and puzzles.  We’ve been replacing and upgrading the learning resources for our classrooms so we decided to purchase some new puzzles for our classes:

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We won’t tire you with the rest of the shopping we did, but let’s just say we’re going to need some help getting this stuff to our classrooms.  The shopping bags are starting to pile up downstairs for our return to school this week, and there will be certainly be some unpacking to do.  But in the meantime, we’re going to stay in this restful and relaxing state of mind, hopefully the same as you.

 

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May the Self-Regulating Force Be With You!

We often wonder how our teaching of self-regulation strategies fare outside of the specific lessons.  For us, the overriding question is whether or not the children are able to transfer what they know to a context outside of classroom instruction.  We’ve been practising our deep breathing; creating calm, peaceful scenes in our minds while meditating; listening to soft music and focusing on relaxing and breathing when using the Zenergy chime.  We’d have to say this was a pretty good week to test out the effectiveness of our teaching.  Would the children be able to manage their energy during the long presentations this week?  What would they do if they were feeling restless and wiggling in their seats?  Do they know how to ignore distractions? Would they be able to self-regulate their own learning by reflecting on what their task was in each new situation?

IMG_1186One of the most exciting things we did this week was to welcome Kathleen, a scientist leader, from “High Touch, High Tech” to our classrooms to present the “Newton in Nutshell” workshop which focuses on Force and Motion.  As physicists, the children would study things that moved and how they moved.

The children learned that scientists can do lots of things.  They conduct experiments which are done in a laboratory, and for this special day, our classrooms were the labs.  Kathleen reviewed the important safety rules such as wearing safety equipment like goggles and lab coats; walking in the lab and keeping things out of our mouths.  Students must listen to instructions, note the order in which tasks are to be completed and take precautions in using equipment.  

Kathleen asked the children to describe how objects move.  They knew they could pull or push objects. Pushes and pulls are the forces to get objects to move; however, the objects have to follows rules or “laws” so Kathleen taught us these laws:

The first law of motion:  An object in motion stays in motion.  An object at rest stays at rest.  Kathleen showed us with a long string of beads in a cup how once we start to pull the strand out of the cup, the rest of the strand would follow and it would not stop until it was finished. This motion stopped when the beads hit the ground.

IMG_1181The second law of motion: The bigger the force, the faster the motion. An object with a bigger force goes faster and further.  Kathleen set up a series of dominoes to demonstrate  what happens when we push hard or push slowly; and that by changing the position of the dominoes (closer, farther apart) it also changes the motion.

The third law of motion: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.   A reaction happens after the action; for example,  if pushing against a wall while wearing your skates (the action), the reaction is to go backwards.  Using Newton’s Cradle, Kathleen showed how the number of balls she set in motion had an equal reaction in that the same number of balls on the opposite side would start moving.  


FullSizeRender-1Finally, we learned about the apple falling out of the tree. Sir Isaac Newton discovered gravity.
If you drop an object, it will always fall to the ground. Gravity pulls everything to the ground.

With their newfound knowledge, our children then embarked on a series of experiments and learning centres to practise what they had learned.  They were able to drop a variety of objects down a vortex, race cars, fling pompoms in catapults, spin felt pen tops to make designs and test out the “spinning wheel” while standing on a moving platform.  It was a very busy and exciting time.

We were happy we’d taught the expectations for centre-based activities and practised this process many times under a variety of circumstances from the regular activity time to Hallowe’en Centres to Math.  The children were all able to rotate well through the stations and participate in their specific learning tasks.  They walked safely from table to table. For the most part, they remembered the instructions to follow through on their activities in the correct order.  For their age, and this being the first time for many of them to receive specific lessons in self-regulation strategies, we were really proud of our students for demonstrating patience, turn-taking and sharing cooperatively most of the time.

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But we’ve also learned that self-regulation instruction is not a series of lessons, or taught only in the early years of Primary.  In the past four years where we’ve made significant changes to our classroom instruction and classroom environment, we know that learning, understanding and using self-regulation strategies is a complex process.  We’ve said before that self-regulation is a way of being, something that we have learned and developed over time.  We know that our Kindergarten students are well on their way in their personal journey of self-regulation.

This Week in Our Room:  June 13-17, 2016

Many thanks to Roseanne from the West Vancouver Memorial Library for showing us a variety of wonderful books and reminding us to register for the Summer Reading Program.

We enjoyed our delicious cookies from the Kindergarten Cookie Sale.  Thanks to Mr. Blackburn and the Grade Six students for organizing this special event.  Funds raised will be donated to Free the Children.

We loved watching our siblings and other Ridgeview Primary students perform at the Primary Talent Show.

Upcoming Events and Reminders

Next week is the last week for Home Reading.  Friday, June 24, will be the last day to take home a book.

Wednesday, June 22, is our Vancouver Aquarium Field Trip.  Please return your permission form and cheque on Monday.

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April 20, 2016:  Talk With Your Kids About Money Day

 

IMG_2758-1“Don’t let money be the tool that trips them up” —Gail Vaz-Oxlade

Talking about money and finances has always been an open discussion at our house but has lately become the topic of urgency, because our oldest child is graduating from Grade 12 and starting University in the fall.  She’s been accepted to UBC and we’re about to enter the world of the Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) and accessing those funds we’ve been saving for years now.

Today, the third Wednesday of April, has been designated as Talk with Our Kids About Money Day.  Although it seems kind of early (we are Kindergarten teachers, after all) to be talking about money, we know it’s really important to start forming good habits and a healthy perspective about money at a very young age.  Canada’s Task Force on Financial Literacy views that the improvement of financial literacy among young people should be a shared responsibility, a lifelong process and provided for in public schools.  While Christy and I do not concur exactly with that perspective, we do think that some basic knowledge (attributes of coins and financial role-playing are part of the BC Kindergarten math content), financial “theory” (saving some money every month is important and necessary) and the application of money skills (bake sales) can be taught at school.  However, our belief is that the actual teaching of financial literacy is the role and responsibility of parents because money reflects our personal and family values and morals, and is influenced by our cultural heritage.

So we were very fortunate indeed to hear Canadian financial maven, Gail Vaz-Oxlade, speak to parents at the Kay Meek Theatre in West Vancouver last May.  Gail was invited to speak to the students at our three high schools and she also gave a separate parent session.  Although Gail’s presentation was geared for parents of older students, her expertise and savvy in understanding and using money is applicable for all ages.  Gail gave our audience some tough love; she asked sobering questions and made us reflect on our own financial literacy and money habits.  With her usual wit and wisdom, here are some of the highlights from her talk.

“It’s our job as parents to teach financial literacy.”

This was probably the most important idea that we took away with us that evening.  Gail does not believe that financial literacy should be part of the school curriculum:  Teachers cannot give kids the money to create the real-life learning situations.  Rather, it’s the parents who can give their kids the money and take it away.  As parents, we need to learn, know and help our children smooth the rough edges of their money personality, whether it be hoarder, spender, or impulse purchaser.   

Gail emphasised how as parents we need to take every opportunity of our lives to teach our children about money.  Parents often want financial literacy in the school system because they are uncomfortable talking about it. But she reminded us that as the parents, you are your children’s best teachers:  you taught them how to walk, how to use the toilet and how to talk.  You can use each and every day to talk about money related situations.

“Love your children enough to let them learn the lessons properly.”

As our children are learning their lessons about money, our response to them is important.  Sometimes, as a society we want to label children and teenagers these days as being entitled.  But Gail suggests it’s not things, or stuff, that spoils kids.  We spoil them by not having expectations.  We need to clearly state our expectations to our children, what we will, and will not put up with, and allow the natural consequences of poor decision-making to happen, especially those decisions related to money.  As parents, we want to be our kids’ saviours, saving them over and over again.  But, our children have the right to make their own mistakes and to fix them.  Kids only learn to spot mistakes after they have experienced making them.

So, how do you teach kids about money?

Gail recommends that children receive allowances–to put the money you would normally spend on them in their hands.  Then, set expectations about what they will do with it.  We can teach our children how we accumulate money for planned spending for predictable necessities in our lives such as car or house insurance.  What kind of spending do your children need to plan for?

Some of you may be familiar with the “money jars” for spending, saving and sharing that Gail has discussed in her books and on her television show, “Til Debt Do Us Part.” Because money is an abstract concept, putting it into the jars makes it concrete.  For more information about kids, allowances and the “money jars,” click here.

Children must learn to differentiate between “needs” and “wants.”  As parents, we must use this vocabulary correctly and consistently.  Do we always understand ourselves what we mean by needs and wants?  Because language influences how we think about things and the way we spend our money.

“Financial literacy is what you do to move from being dependent to independent.”

We love Gail’s definition of financial literacy.  She said that “being independent is the healthiest you will ever be.”  Why would we then, as parents, not teach our children the financial skills they need so that they can begin the journey to independence?

Gail cautioned us about keeping secrets about money from our children. We need to teach our children about setting goals, planned spending, emergency funds, how interest and credit works, saving for the long term and bank fees, loans and mortgages, none of which should be a secret.  Let’s talk openly with our children–we’re their parents!  Let’s give them the benefit of our life experiences and teach them about financial literacy while they are young, so that one day they can be informed, knowledgeable, independent young adults making their way in the world.

Thank you so very much to Gail Vaz-Oxlade for continuing to inspire us!

We would also like to thank our Ridgeview colleague, Leanne Pruner, for suggesting these resources for you to consider when talking to your kids about money.

Save, spend, share, invest: How to talk with small kids about money

moneycoachescanada.ca

Money Smart Kid$:  Teach Your Children Financial Confidence and Control by Gail Vaz-Oxlade

 

 

 

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Communicating Learning:  Today We Celebrate 101 Posts for The Self-Regulated Teacher!

IMG_0703A special thing happened 15 months ago and that was the creation of our little website and teacher blog, The Self-Regulated Teacher.  We never dreamed that we would have received over 12,000 views (12,398 to be exact at the time of writing) by over 6500 visitors to read what we had originally planned as one form of communicating learning for our Kindergarten classroom parents.

We carried this idea around for a long time, and with the help, support and encouragement of one of our BFFs, Cari Wilson, Innovation Support Teacher (Technology) for West Vancouver and our Ridgeview Principal, Valerie Brady, we published our first post in December 2014.  We’re appreciative of the positive feedback from our classroom parents and others readers of this blog.  Thank you for leaving us your kind comments and questions.

As we reflect on the various ways to communicate learning that we’ve used over the years, beyond the three written report cards, parent-teacher conferences and Student-Led Conferences, our primary method has been the classroom newsletter we’ve written every week since we started teaching, from Kindergarten to Grade 4 (not including the years we were Learning Support teachers).  We originally wrote this by hand until recently when we’ve started to post it online.

Each and every parent group has always enjoyed, “This Week in Our Room,” to review the goings-on of the past week, with reminders for the upcoming week.  We know those newsletters graced many fridges, were placed in special binders or pinned to the family bulletin board.  Families tell us how they kept all those handwritten paper newsletters from the Kindergarten year as a classroom memory.

Our families need to know, and love knowing, what’s happening in their child’s school life.  Supporting the children in their learning, and extending the learning at home, requires that parents have an awareness of the classroom routines, curriculum and activities.  In our situation, we wanted parents to be able to take the information we provide through the newsletter, and use that as a basis for conversation beyond the ubiquitous, “What did you do at school today?”  Our classroom parents are knowledgeable about what their child is doing at school, and can ask the pertinent questions to help uncover the learning gems each child knows.

We realise that our level of communication is going to be different in Kindergarten, compared to a student in the older grades.  Our children are more than able to share with their parents what we do at school, but the rationale for an activity might not be as clear to them or there were too many reminders on a certain day, and we like our parents to know these things.  We consider classroom communication a teaching responsibility, so if reminding our parents to send along a pair of rain boots for outdoor play, or making suggestions for reading at home, contributes to a fun and successful school experience, then we’re going to do it.

We’ve noticed an increase in the number of working parents in our classes over the years and as working parents ourselves, we wanted to improve when and how information can be accessed and technology has allowed us to do so.  Working parents cannot always drop by the classroom to see the latest bulletin board display or see when it’s their child turn to be the next Special Helper.  Our first foray into digital home and school communication started with the app Remind, which delivers text messages from the teacher to the classroom families from an account separate from your smartphone.  It allows us to schedule Remind texts days and weeks ahead, as we think of them, and to include photos as well.  We highly recommend it as an excellent method to send reminders home.

From Remind we made the jump to writing and posting the newsletter online.  It’s actually easier and faster for us now, because Christy and I would meet in person or discuss by phone what we were going to write. We can write our newsletters and blog posts on Google Docs, share it with each other and we can both be reading, revising and editing at the same time (as we’re doing right now), or when it’s convenient for us, before we copy it into WordPress, our blogging platform.

We don’t necessarily endorse that a classroom website and weekly blogging is for everyone.   We were already used to writing the newsletter, and looking for ways to increase our efficiency and reduce paper consumption.  We now write a short blog followed by the newsletter on Fridays.  We work on it over the week, adding bits of information as we think of it.

On Sunday we write a blog post that is current and relevant for what’s happening in our classrooms and at our school.  These blogs take more time because of the topics we choose to write about; however, we love sharing what we’ve learned through our teaching and experience and have achieved a great sense of satisfaction and accomplishment through writing and publishing.  We’re not going to romanticize blogging, though.  Although I love writing and have a passion for writing, writing takes time and periodic bouts of writer’s block can seriously extend the amount of time you were planning to spend on writing one post, never mind how the rest of your evening (or day) was affected.

Our Kindergarten website focuses on school and classroom expectations and routines, and foundation learning for our students.  Again, our original intention was to write a Kindergarten Handbook, a “how-to” for negotiating Kindergarten here at Ridgeview, and we decided to just have everything, our newsletters, blog and handbook information in one place, theselfregulatedteacher.com.  You can read more about “Becoming The Self-Regulated Teacher” here.

 

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The Self-Regulated Teacher’s Top 5 Most Read Posts for Term Two, January-March 2016

IMG_0728We’ve just finished the first week of our spring break, and have taken some time to get caught up on household duties, skiing, concerts, shopping, and future blog post ideas and scheduling.

But it also reminded us it’s the end of Term Two for our classes, and as usual we like to wrap it up with a summary and links to our top 5 most read posts in case you missed them.

IMG_1854Our Kindergarten Classroom Routines

Although teachers typically establish classroom routines in September, we’ve learned over the years that teaching routines is not something that can be done once and never referred to again.  Routines of any kind, for our students and ourselves as adults, need to be practiced and reinforced over and over to become a good habit and part of the natural way we do things.  So it is every autumn that we begin teaching routines to our new Kindergarten students on the first day of the Gradual Entry Program.  Routines provide calm and comfort for the children, particularly for transitions between activities.  The children have a sense of safety and security when they know what is expected not only of them, but their classmates as well.

IMG_2478Math, the Kindergarten Way

We wrote this blog last April and we’re excited that it continues to remain informative for parents and teachers.  We’re still faithful to the basic principles of Math Their Way even after many years of teaching, a variety of new programs and new directions.  Math Their Way is just right for young children:  it is a manipulative based math program that focuses on developing a deep understanding of math concepts at the concrete (manipulative) level before the children start to make the connections between the concrete and abstract.  Every math unit we plan, from Patterning, to Sorting and Classifying, Number and Geometry and Measurement, begins with the manipulatives and planned time for the children to explore over a number of days before we begin direct instruction.

BreathingBallSelf-Regulation Tool:  The Breathing Ball

This little blog on the Breathing Ball (aka the Hoberman Sphere) has been visited often since we originally posted it in February 2015 .  We continue to use the Breathing Ball daily, either after the morning or lunch recess, to provide an important visual for our students for the deep breathing practise that we take so seriously in the Kindergarten.  Our dear SEA who retired last year always said to the children, “your breath is your friend.”  When we are out and about, in a hallway line-up to enter the gym for an assembly, waiting for our turn to perform at the Christmas Concert or anticipating a special snack, we turn to our “friend” and breathe deeply and calmly to help us focus so that we are always relaxed and ready to receive whatever the day is about to bring to us.

IMG_2474Understanding Phonological Awareness as Part of a Balanced Approach to Reading Instruction

A significant part of our Kindergarten program is to build upon the children’s phonological awareness, which has been developing since they were young.  In our school district we assess our students’ early literacy skills at the end of January, such as alphabet names and sounds, initial and final sounds of words and segmenting and blending skills, with a follow-up assessment in late spring.  For us, planning a balanced approach to reading instruction includes developing phonemic awareness and phonics instruction, along with the songs, rhymes and poems, read-aloud stories, environmental print, shared reading and independent reading opportunities that are a part of a rich, oral language experience.

IMG_2584Setting Up the Self-Regulated Classroom

This year we made some significant changes to the physical arrangement of our classrooms based upon suggestions from Stuart Shankar (@StuartShankar) in his book Calm, Alert and learning:  Classroom Strategies for Self-Regulation.  From increasing our use of natural light, soft wall colours, uniform organisation of materials and noise reduction strategies, we are better able to support our students’ self regulation through the creation of a calm and peaceful learning space.

 

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Global School Play Day:  Thoughts from the Kindergarten

FullSizeRenderLike many others have already done, we were going to write about Global School Play Day  earlier this week ourselves. As you’ve probably read, or heard from your children, Global School Play Day took place on Wednesday, February 3 this year and schools in our district, and all over the world, celebrated in their own way what it means to play.  But we got really busy around the day we usually post (Sunday), and then all these other posts and tweets started appearing, so we decided that we would just follow-up with some observations from our own classrooms, which is always the most fun to write about, because they’re about our own students.

Global School Play Day originated with two California teachers, Tim and Scott Bedley (@BedleyBros, #GSPD2016) last year.  The brothers have taken play, in the purest sense of the word, and given it back to the children, a day where they can play freely, in an unstructured, creative way, without boundaries and pre-determined rules.  Part of Global School Play Day is a “call for toys,” for blocks, Lego, dolls, puzzles, board games and craft supplies.  It’s a focus on student-directed play, as opposed to teacher-led activities and lessons.  It’s also a day away from screen time.

So when we decided at Ridgeview that our school was going to participate in Global School Play Day, Christy and I wondered, how will this day be different from any other day we have in the Kindergarten? We already play quite a bit throughout the day, mixed in with other teacher-directed activities such as Alphabet work, Social Studies and Art lessons.  We have Free Play (Centre Time) in the mornings, when the children are free to choose their activities and move from centre to centre.  We have a specific focus for our afternoon play, such as Constructions (different kinds of building materials) and Literacy Centres (all things alphabet:  we’re playing with language and letters). We intentionally have a limited use of technology for our age group and when we do so, we try to use it creatively.  Would we shape the day to make it seem even more play oriented than we already are?  That would be a lot of playing.

FullSizeRender-2In Kindergarten, we are all about play. Play, like self-regulation, is one of the cornerstones of our Kindergarten Program.  But while play may be a very natural inclination, what children are built to do, it’s important to remember that play is also very hard work.
When our children are playing, they are learning and practising a multitude of skills:

  • Exploring, inquiring, problem solving, investigating
  • Cooperating, collaborating, planning
  • Creating, imagining, designing
  • Sharing, discussing, turn-taking, listening, negotiating
  • Measuring, estimating, building, experimenting
  • Patience, perseverance, resilience, grit

We’re positive this is not even half of what the children are doing.  We just gave ourselves a moment to brainstorm some of the skills the children were learning.  We’re exhausted just thinking about it.

And so were the children.  After playing most of the day on Wednesday, more than a few children asked if they “could take break” or “have a rest.”  From playing?  Yes, they were tired from playing, because play is the work of a child.  All that energy that is needed for sharing and negotiating for toys with your friends, coming up with new ideas for building elaborate structures in a collaborative model, the patience required to draw and colour a multitude of tiny hearts for pretty Valentine cards, the stamina needed for swinging on swings and sliding down the slide…well, after all that energy got used up, some of the children wanted to lie down in the meeting area.  Some wanted to look at a book, or listen to a story at the listening centre.  It actually ended up being a pretty quiet afternoon.

We certainly had fun on Global School Play Day, and the children enjoyed themselves.  But when your little people come home tired, because they’ve been busy playing at school, let’s not forget…they have just worked a full day.

This Week in Our Room:  February 1-4, 2016

On Thursday we had our first skating field trip and did we ever have FUN!  First of all, we have to say thank you so very much to all the parents who came out to help with the skate lacing and helmet fitting.  As you could see, we have a very short turnaround time from arriving at the arena, to getting on our equipment and then heading out to our lesson.

We were so delighted with our children and their positive attitude on and off the ice.  They were so excited, yet as good as gold on the bus ride over.  They stayed super calm and followed their teacher’s instructions very well, remembering to sit down in their seats and speak quietly to their neighbours so as not to distract our driver.

FullSizeRender-1We worked on our February self-portraits this week.  The children continue to improve in their directed drawing, use of details and colour.  We always use our criteria of “Big, Bright and Beautiful” when working on drawings.

 

Big…means fill your space

Bright…means five colours of more

Beautiful…means to do your personal best

Upcoming Events and Reminders

We made our Valentine Card Holders with our Big Buddies and they are currently on display in our classroom.  We sent home a pink notice this week with information about the giving of Valentine cards in our class.  We also included a list of the class names for your division.  If you are giving out cards, please bring them in next week.  We will help your child put them in the correct bags.  We will be having a quiet Valentine’s celebration in our classrooms on Friday.

If you’re in Mrs. Daudlin’s class, you know that February is birthday month in our class.  Next week we are celebrating birthdays EVERY day with sweet treats…something to consider that as you packing snacks and lunches for the coming days.

Monday, February 8 is Family Day.  Enjoy a wonderful long weekend spending time with your precious family.  Every moment spent with our children is to be treasured, so take the opportunity to create lots special memories.  It doesn’t really matter what we do; it’s about being together.

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Self-Regulation Tool: Zen Shorts

IMG_2455There’s something to be said for a clean, calm and spare environment.

Today’s view of the dollhouse found us in a self-regulating frame of mind, and that feeling led us to one of our favourite books, Zen Shorts (2005) by the amazing Jon Muth.

Zen Shorts tells the story of Michael, Addy and Karl, a family of children who meet Stillwater, a panda who has moved into their neighbourhood.  Stillwater shares life lessons in story format with each of the children.  Through his gentleness, grace and wisdom, the children learn about understanding, forgiveness, tolerance and perspective in their own lives.

IMG_2458We wondered how our children might be able to relate to the stories, or if the symbolism and imagery was too sophisticated.  However, we were delighted how each of them was able to not only understand the stories at a literal level, but they also tried to make some deeper connection to their own life experiences in our discussions that followed.

Do you know that blissful sigh that comes after reading a great book, the feeling of satisfaction, the feeling of deep contentment when the words, the meaning and the illustrations, which are just so perfect for the story, all come together beautifully?  Well, we did just that…sigh…it’s just SUCH a great book.

Jon Muth has written several other books with Stillwater, the panda:

Zen Ties (2008)

Zen Ghosts (2010)

Zen Socks (2015)

This Week in Our Room:  January 25-29, 2016

As faithful Vancouverites, we love to talk about the weather.  So for this week, we wanted to note that our children should all have a warm coat to wear, gloves and a hat, if necessary.  A lightweight windbreaker is not quite enough, unless paired with a warm vest.  Most should be able to do up their zipper independently; although we, and our monitors can support the children, if necessary.  We realize that some of the children do not like to go outside when it’s rainy and cold; however, part of Westcoast living means not only enjoying the warm and mild days, but enduring the endless cold, rainy and wet ones as well.

Please check with your child each day to see if you need to take home wet pants and socks after your child changed at recess or lunch.  The wet weather has meant that quite a few children are getting wet from playing or going down the slide, puddle jumping or just the rain blowing sideways.  They need to bring extra dry clothes to change into for the next day in their backpacks.  Please note:  a few children end up changing after the morning recess, get wet again at lunch and need to change one more time to be comfortable for the afternoon.  They should probably have two pairs of pants and socks when it’s really rainy.

FullSizeRender-25During weekly Library time, our Teacher-Librarian, Mrs. Kennedy, read aloud Orca Chief, by Roy Henry Vickers and Robert Bud, to our children.

We have been focusing on First Nations animal motifs as part of our Aboriginal Education studies. This month we are focusing on the orca whale.  Last term we had learned about the Bear. 

We learned lessons about thankfulness, and to be grateful for what we have.  We also learned that “orca” is another word for “killer whale.”


IMG_4954We’ve been busy creating more fabulous Winter Art this week.  Here is our “Winter Snowmen at Night” inspired by
Snowmen at Night (Caralyn Buehner and Mark Buehner) and the “Winter Snowman Collage Art Lesson” by Patti at Deep Space Sparkle. We painted our “snow” backgrounds on dark blue construction paper, then drew the snowmen with pastels using directed drawing instructions.  The children love using pastels more than any other colouring tool because of the intensity and wide variety of colours.  Instead of dusting our snowmen with glitter, we used Sparkle Mod Podge, which we purchase at Michaels Craft Stores.  It dries quickly and gives a really nice finish when you want to add a little sparkle (and really, who doesn’t everyone want a little more sparkle in their lives?  We can never get enough).

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Upcoming Dates and Reminders

We’re skating on Thursday, February 4.  Please email your child’s teacher with your child’s skate size if your child is renting skates.  It helps to make the process go much faster at the arena.

Mrs. Daudlin: adaudlin@wvschools.ca

Mrs. Campbell/Mrs. Cantlie: CCampbell@wvschools.ca     CmCantlie@wvschools.ca

Friday, February 5 is Reading Break and Monday, February 6 is the Family Day holiday.  We will resume school on Tuesday, February 9.

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Happy!

IMG_0689At the end of the Christmas holidays, our West Vancouver School Superintendent Chris Kennedy (@chrkennedy), proposed through his blog for educators to think of a single word that might reflect their hopes and goals for the new year, a single word that would link their professional aspirations and personal pursuits….

It’s typical of us to take a journey, creating our own pathway as we always do, as we searched for that one word (which turned out to be pretty elusive in the end) that would capture the essence of what we hope to accomplish this year.  And no, our one word did not turn out to be journey.

Admittedly, our first attempt at a word that reflected our personal hopes and goals was minimalism.  But that was because we were both in the throws of packing up Rubbermaid containers with Christmas decorations and dealing with a fridge full of uneaten leftovers.  The laundry baskets were overflowing (could any of these pieces of clothing be worn more than once before washing?) and the dishwasher was running twice a day (note to the teenagers:  it’s ok to wash dishes by hand).  We don’t think minimalism in the professional sense should be misconstrued as working less or less hard; but rather, prioritizing what’s most important to focus on fewer goals and successfully meet all of them.  But we weren’t quite sure if minimalism was the one word for us, even though it’s a movement we very much admire.

So then we thought about some words we associate with self-regulation:  calm, peaceful, and focused.  We love all of those words and certainly work towards creating calm and peaceful classroom environments for our students to support their self-regulation so they can focus on classroom learning.  From a professional standpoint, we know that the teacher’s ability to be self-regulated, to be able to communicate one’s thoughts and emotions and how we work through those emotions (down-regulating from upset or frustrated to calm; or up-regulating from tired or sleepy to focused) is a major factor in how well our students learn to self-regulate.  It’s a professional goal that would also have many positive personal implications (and vice versa) but we’ve been teaching with self-regulation as the foundation of our Kindergarten program the past few years and it feels like we’re cheating if we select one of these words which already embodies who we are and what we do.

We dug a little deeper still, and in thinking further about our goals for this year we paused at the word self-reflection.  As professional teachers we engage in a great deal of self-reflection:  we’re always reflecting on the lessons we taught, how we might have taught a concept in a different manner and what we will have to change in our reteaching.  We reflect on what motivates our students to engage in a particular lesson, or what the circumstances were that caused unexpected behaviours amongst the class.  Writing this website has played a large part in our professional growth and development as we read, research and reflect on our teaching practise to write about issues and topics that pertain to Kindergarten.  As for personal goals, the amount of time we’ve already spent in self-reflection and self-recrimination for not having met those goals has determined that what our one word for this year should be is balance.

We find ourselves talking a lot about balance.  It’s something many of us strive for…but is it really attainable?  On a consistent basis?  Like most others, we’ve been trying to find the perfect “work/life balance” to balance work life, family life and personal wellness for years.  It’s a journey, if you will, of being mindful and fully present of where you are in your day, an awareness of what you’re balancing at that exact moment. It’s a unicorn we struggle with on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly basis depending upon our time, age and circumstance.  Professionally, we try to balance the children’s time for play, time for literacy, time for math, time to just allow their imaginations to run free; personally we try to balance family time, personal time, maintenance time for home and garden, time for health, spiritual and mental wellness.  Is balance our one word, that will link together the goals for our professional and personal lives? We’re not sure, it doesn’t leave us feeling completely happy or satisfied with our choice.

So we thought that maybe happy is our one word.  

Because isn’t happy all any of us ever want, hope or aspire to be, no matter where we are in our lives?  We know that being happy doesn’t mean that everything is going to be easy.  Life is full of challenges that serve only to stretch us, to help us find our best possible self.  But even though those times may be difficult, hopefully we can still come out ok on the other side.  We think happy fits.  It’s where we want to be.

We choose happy, and to be happy, as our word for 2016.

 

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About Us

“About Us” is the third most read post in a year of writing over 80 posts for The Self-Regulated Teacher since December 2015.

Today, we’ve revised “About Us” to reflect where we are a year later. You’ll always be able to find it in the menu at the top of our website or you can click here.

Regular readers will notice we’ve had a wee makeover!  We love our new look and thank you always to one of our besties, Cari Wilson, our West Vancouver School District Innovation Support Teacher (Technology) for her friendship and continued technical support to keep our website looking fresh and modern.  We would not be here without her.

 

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