Have you ever sat back and thought about each minute of your day and wondered, "why do I do this this way?" I think as each year passes, more and more of my thought process becomes less of a process and more of a second-nature reaction... and frankly, this is dangerous. We must always be purposeful with every minute we have with these tiny minds. So, for now, I hope to pick apart my day, a bit at a time to reflect and ensure that what I am doing has a purpose.
First up, arrival!
When my class arrives, I greet each with a good morning and their name. Sometimes I change it up with a "hey there _____" or a hi __________," but each child gets a personal greeting when they enter. I don't shake hands, or high five, or even fist bump. I'm not so much a toucher, but kids need to feel comfortable, welcomed and special, so each one gets eye contact and a hello of some form. My I.A. is a good hugger... I leave that to her.
Until recently my kids went to their assigned seats at one of four tables. The assigned seats allowed my to quickly see who was absent, but those seats are also used at snack time and during writing workshop. I try to put a strong kiddo, a weaker kiddo, and some middle kiddos together. Strong, middle and weak can apply to academics, social skills, or leadership skills. It all depends on the kid and the table. Last week I ripped the names off because a) my kids can choose who they want to sit with in the morning, b) they can choose who to sit with during snack, and c) we working on helping them choose a smart spot for themselves during writing. If a child makes a poor choice, we simply suggest a better seat. This has proven to be a great change with two minor side effects. Snack time gets LOUD and trying to figure out who is absent is no longer a quick glance at the tables. But, hey, who cares, right?
Depending on the day, the children are directed to get their book boxes when they arrive, or they have a tub of math manipulatives on the table, or they have a worksheet waiting for them.
"A WORKSHEET?!" you gasp?! Yes. A worksheet. I don't even try to sugarcoat it with the label of "individual practice" or "handwriting reinforcement." It's a plain old worksheet. Any kid, no matter what school system, needs to learn how to sit down, put their name on a paper, and follow simple directions (usually oral). Those kiddos who think they can blow through the work by scribbling or not attending to the question get to do it all over again with a teacher. They learn this early. The topic of the worksheet is timely, this morning they added up dots on dice, one morning they colored a snowy scene, one morning they practiced writing their name. They all have purpose.
But the worksheet isn't everyday, more often than not, it's the book boxes and those allow kids to share the books they have or read their guided reading books. Our book boxes also contain a dry erase board and marker so many write their letters, words, or names.
I invite one table at a time to go to the cubbies and unpack. Each child is responsible to unpack their own bag, put their coat away, put the contents of the bag in the right spots -- snack goes in snack basket, guided reading books go in book box, library books go in blue basket, blue folders or Tuesday folders go in their respective homes. My only purpose is to oversee the unpacking and collect notes from home and lunch money.
After unpacking, the children go to the easel and read that morning's question with my I.A. and answer it. My I.A. ensures that each child is thinking of their own answer and not simply copying what has already been written. The question always focuses on something we're working on. What rhymes with... or, What is two dots plus three dots... or, What part of the body do you use to smell? Then those kids go to the Smart Board to move their name from the "home" side to the "school" side. This month each name also has its birthday. Soon, the name will disappear and the kids need to locate their birthday to check-in. We've done first names, full names, last names only, initials, and now birthdays. Up next - phone numbers. Then, back to their tables to await my call to clean-up and come to morning circle.
Next post... morning meeting.