Courageous Conversations: Inclusion Talk!
We had several anti-bias conversations around differences, this week. We read We Can Do It! by Laura Dwight to help frame children’s perspectives around the capabilities of children who have differences, rather than their limitations. During the fire drill, however, children noticed a member of the community was missing and this sparked the conversation. “He is safe, in the front of the building, with 3 adults. We are safe back here, together, with everyone else. Everyone is safe, but he needed to be there and we needed to be here, instead.” Children were still very worried about where this child was, and his reaction to the whole process, and couldn’t understand why he wasn’t with us in the first place. So, I made the necessary space in our busy day for children to unpack their assumptions and observations in a safe and open dialogue, because we needed to talk about what they were seeing and not saying.
The conversation was respectful and candid. We talked about noticing differences in abilities and mannerisms in the classroom, and how to support a certain member of our community who seemed different. I reiterated that everyone is getting what they need and our friend was working on different things, just like everyone else. “He is working on being with us more for whole group times, taking risks instead of saying “no,” and communicating with others more.” I tried to show them the fairness in equity versus equality (where everyone gets the same thing.) “For him, playing with the magnatiles at the table nearest to us when we had a whole group meeting was him trying to join us in a way that felt safe to him. You aren’t working on joining us, so that’s why you were on the rug here, already. Equity means you get what you need, and that can look different from someone else.” I knew they understood the concept when someone said, “That’s like how I need a stretchy fidget, but someone else needs a squishy one, but we’re both getting help listening because we both have our things even though they’re different.”
They also had AMAZING things to say about that child’s strengths, and ways we are all alike rather than different, and how to make all friends feel included, even if they give us mixed signals. “You could high-five him maybe, or invite him to color with you.” And, “I could ask him to read that Hungry Caterpillar Book, or read HIM a book!” And, “Everyone likes to know they’re invited, even if they don’t always come play with you.” And, “Sometimes giving someone space, but saying you’re there makes them feel better. Like when I’m upset.” Lastly, one child commented later by saying, “He doesn’t like recess time outside, so I think he would have felt even more scared than normal with the whole school walking around on the blacktop. It was good he wasn’t with us there. He wouldn’t have felt safe.”
When our friend left the school for good, children were so sad and confused. We just had
this wonderful INCLUSION TALK and then they didn’t have the chance to implement their ideas. So, they had a hard time understanding why the classroom wasn’t the best space for him to learn and grow. I couldn’t share all the reasons, but I could share the reason behind the actions they observed that told us it wasn’t the best space. We talked about what it feels like when we are sensory overloaded. It was a perfect conversation, since we just introduced the fidget tools and returned the noise cancelling headphones. A big reason our classroom environment wasn’t serving this student was because it was so open, loud in the pod, and the amount of stimulation and people on campus was very overwhelming. I explained all this by grabbing an empty jar and pebbles. I said the jar was the student’s mind, clear and open to receiving information and learning. Then, I began filling the empty jar with pebbles, as we went through the sensory input involved in each part of our daily schedule. We arrived at 11:30 and the jar was almost full to the brim. “Hey, that’s when ___________ packs up his things and leaves early!” Another student said, “I think he feels kinda overwhelmed,because when I feel like that and my marbles are full, I scream, too.” Another said, “He must feel so scared and stressed out! When my marbles get full, I can’t be my best self.” It was a perfectly concrete way to explain what adults mean when we say “our classroom and school environment wasn’t right for ________.” I said, “Now, this could be anyone at any time, but imagine feeling this way all the time, every day. That’s why ______ found a new environment that would allow him to feel safe and able to learn. (I dumped out all the marbles except for 10). This is what he’ll feel like in his new school, hopefully. And this is how everyone should feel in the right environment. So, do you understand what I mean, now?” Kids were happy for their friend’s new classroom environment and they actually understood and empathized with what it might feel like to be overwhelmed/overstimulated. It was a series of beautiful moments. Please talk more with your child about how we are all working on something different and our needs are being met, even if the process looks different 🙂
New Meeting Tools To Help Whole Body Listening…
This week, we introduced fidget tools (concentration tools) and their agreements, which we talked about last week. The fidget tools we have help children focus their hands during sedentary activities with an object that is 1 of 3 sensory options: stretchy (caterpillar), squishy (football), or tactile (thinking putty). We also reintroduced the noise cancelling headphones with our agreements and put them in the library instead of the meeting area. This way, children are less likely to misuse them during clean up or whole group times. Children are responding very well to these tools, and I’m checking in with them about which tools worked best for them and which didn’t help them focus. They’re very honest about it, for the most part!
We’re On Team Salvador!
This week, I wanted to kickstart our sense of stewardship. We had to close the sensory table as a choice, mid-week, because children mistreated it by throwing sand, everywhere, and not cleaning it up. After children volunteered to clean it up, we talked about what happens when we don’t follow our classroom agreement to treat tools respectfully. The natural consequence that the tool is closed to the class
until we can earn it back, again, by showing we’re responsible with other materials and tools (i.e. the noise cancelling headphones). This incident led to a series of conversations about who cleans up our classroom (Salvador) and how important it is that we do our part to help Salvador, the custodian, with that job.
I asked Salvador to come to our classroom, so children could meet him! We asked him
questions about himself, his likes, his dislikes, his job, etc. He works from about 6am to 4:30pm or 5:00pm, everyday, cleaning the whole campus. I wanted children to put a face to the name of the person who cleans our classroom, so that they might think twice about creating and leaving messes behind. We agreed afterwards that he has a big job to do on campus and we would be on Team Salvador to help him by cleaning up after our classroom. I showed them where brooms and the floor sweeper were, as well as the dust pan and rags. Now, children use those tools voluntarily to help during clean up! And if ever we see friends forget to clean-up or making a big mess with materials in a way that’s mistreating them, we gently say “Please don’t hurt my friend Salvador.”
A Message From Our Art Coordinator
My name is Christina Wayne and I will be the Art coordinator for Kate’s Kinder class for the 2016/2017 school year. I am new to the role, but very excited to see what the children can introduce to me with their art explorations. While doing some research on how to best support the children and the classroom, I came across this excerpt that I wanted to share:
“Reggio Emilia is an approach to creativity and learning that was founded by Loris Mallaguzzi in the Northern Italian city, Reggio Emilia. Lorris Magaluzzi has created a forum where children can express what he calls the 100 languages of children, which refers to their unlimited creative potential. He believes that when we perceive children as strong, capable and creative we inspire children to the highest of their creative potential. Instead of seeing children as empty vessels that need filling up with information and knowledge, he sees them as already full of creative potential and artists in their own right. This philosophy can be applied to adults as well as children.”
Art Material Wishlist:
- Toilet paper rolls
- Random flowers if you have a garden
- Nature items – twigs, stones, leaves, shells, feathers, branches, tree bark, flowers, acorns, etc.
- Plastic caps – from orange juice, milk, etc. – please wash before donating – All colors, shapes and sizes are welcome.
- Wine corks
- Misc. Fabric – various sizes, prints, colors, etc.
- Rubber Bands
- Bubble Wrap
- Tree Branch Stumps – Anyone cutting down a tree soon or maybe just some branches?
Mark Those Calendars!
- PICTURE DAY: Tuesday August 30th, 9:10-9:40am
- Art Materials: Please bring in anything you can of the requested list above 🙂
- Lunch Assessments Ending: Remember to SIGN UP your child for either 12:45-1:30
or 1:35-2:20pm! The lunches will begin and END as promptly as possible. Here’s a link to the signup genius for those who haven’t signed up, yet: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/20f0f4fadac2ba7f94-getting
- Community Snack Schedule: This week is the Kizaraly Family. Please, use thesnack signup genius here to sign up for a week to ring snack. Let the Snack Coordinator Kudsana (firstname.lastname@example.org) know if you need special accommodations. And a BIG thank you to the Sizelove family who volunteered last week!
- Early Classroom Help Request: If you’re a former D2 TK parent, have an older child in the school, and finished your Positive Discipline Requirements to volunteer in the classroom, please sign up to help in the classroom throughout the week, if you can: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/30e0c49aea72daa8-kinder.Thanks!
- Labor Day Weekend: No School Monday September 5th
- September Parent Meeting: The next parent meeting will be Wednesday September 14th 6:30-7:30pm
“Get-to-know-you” Assessment Lunches Going Well!
I began meeting with your little ones for lunch, last week, and it’s been simply wonderful! Your children are creative, sweet, funny, and articulate critical thinkers. We had a great time sharing stories, fruit, and assessing where they are mathematically and literacy wise. I will go over results with you during our first parent-teacher meeting and appreciate your patience. Thank you, also, for understanding when certain lunches ran over our allotted time. Just a reminder, parents are encouraged not to stay, and if your child is the 12:45pm-1:30pm slot, he/she can remain in the classroom with me, u
ntil I dismiss everyone and set up for our assessment luncheon. I try to make it fun by starting with lunch, asking some questions to get to know them, showing them what we’ll do with our time, etc. We talk about brain goals and body goals they have for themselves, as they think about what they would like to be able to know and do by the end of kindergarten. Those answers will go up on our Olympic Hopes & Dreams Board in September. That goal conversation then feeds into the math and literacy assessments, which I introduce by saying, “I just want to know what you know, and from what I can tell you know A LOT. So, these questions will give us an idea of what you know and what other skills we will learn in kindergarten!” So far, we’ve managed to make it fun! Sometimes, we even have time to play with a favorite toy in the classroom! Next week, for 8/29-9/2 I’ll meet with the following students:
- Monday: Quentin
- Tuesday: Dominic and Ellie Luz
- Hearing Test: On Thursday children participating in the hear test, and we read books
and ate snack outside while they went into the testing in groups of 4.
- Family Photo: Where is yours? I’m short 6 family photos…I know who you are! lol I would like to label family photos with names, but I don’t have everyone yet. Please bring in your photos ASAP. We’re a community!
- Visitor: Salvador the custodian!
- Fire Drill: We had a fire drill, Tuesday, August 23rd. We talked about the safety issues and how everyone needs to stay in line, with the group, quietly walking, and whole-body listening no matter what. It went well and practicing beforehand helped reduce their anxiety, a bit, too.
- Guided Discovery: Children learn about new materials and tools in our room through guided discovery and then exploration with those tools afterward. Tools they discovered this week were watercolors, popsicle sticks, pot holder looms, and tinker toys. (The Sensory Table had kinetic sand and animal accessories.)
- Goals for the Year: Children began thinking about our hopes and dreams for the
year, by starting with what they’re good at and what they’re working on. We will hone those goals during lunch assessments and post them on our Olympic Skills Board to remind us of what we are working toward as we learn🙂 Each one of us will carry the skills torch at one point or another as we play and grow. “Play” can look very different as children grow older and their interests and skills advance. So, let’s see what’s in store this year!
- Final Goodbyes: Jeremiah and Landon will no longer be continuing with us at D2. We said goodbye by writing/drawing them cards. We will be getting two new students in the next few weeks, probably…
Whole-Group Read-Aloud Books & Songs:
- We Can Do It! by Laura Dwight
- I like Me by Nancy Carlson
- Mix It Up by Herve Tullet
- If You Give A Mouse An iPhone by Ann Droyd
- Kinder Sing Songs: Good Morning Song, Aikendrum, Pop-See-Ko, The Potato Song, and Together on Monday Again
- Go Noodle Songs: Pop See Ko, Pop See Ko 2.0, Wiggle It, This or That, I Get Loose, and Wobbly Man