New School Year, New Chapter of Learning

Sunday, September 14, 2014

I'm so excited to be back to blogging after taking a break this summer! From getting married to sharing my practice as a co-instructor at York Region District School Board's "Great Beginnings" week long workshop for teachers and first ever Designated Early Childhood Educator workshop with my lovely friend, Heidi Theis, I wanted to share a more personal post to kick off this new school year since I've spent a lot of time reflecting and getting ready for all the exciting new beginnings. Over the past two weeks, I think it's safe to say that many emotions have come into play when adjusting to this new chapter along my own learning journey:
Before: Part 1
Nervous. Excited. Overwhelmed. Inspired. Anxious. Happy. Confused. Energetic. Frazzled. Open-minded ... 
(to name a few). 
Before: Part 2
I have found myself connecting these varied emotions to my own personal goals as a professional this year and in particular, in relation to this exciting new road I've embarked on as one of the new Full Day Kindergarten teachers at a brand new school, Robert Munsch Public School. 

Coupling my nervousness with the reminder to stay open and reflective in my practice is something that I want to keep at the forefront of my work this year in particular for many reasons. To shed a brief light as to why, a new school means completely new students to which I have had no previous relationship with (yet!). Having always been used to our Junior Kindergarten students becoming our leaders once they enter Senior Kindergarten, this has been my first exciting challenge thus far since I've reminded myself many times to slow down and truly get to know them as individuals, their interests, previous knowledge and experiences and diverse abilities. Moreover, a new staff, new environment, new community and new routines has all-in-all been a tad overwhelming but at the same time, incredibly inspiring and full of excitement. That being said, over these past two weeks I've continued to remind myself that flexibility, transparency, openness, and reflective practice is key to my success and that of my students this year as we grow and learn together. With every new challenge that arises, I look truly forward to tackling it head on and with a growth mindset, since I believe this mentality to imperative when setting myself and students up for success. 

This year, I look forward to all the collaborative opportunities, networking, dialogue and support from my colleagues (both in person and online) and in particular, the ongoing dialogue with Heidi as we both continue to transform our practice as part of our new chapters. My feelings of excitement, inspiration, happiness and energy derive from the foundation Heidi and I built over the past three years spent together in our FDK classroom. While we are no longer together in the same space or school, our relationship continues to blossom in many new ways, shapes and forms outside the walls of our classroom. I am truly so fortunate to call her such an incredible friend and inspiring professional since I feel that it is because of our experiences together, that I can begin this new chapter with confidence, take new risks and always reach for the stars!

Our whole group meeting area:
- Morning & End of the Day meetings
- Math Congress
- Mini Lessons
Dramatic Play Area
- currently set up for a kitchen
Cubby Area and Art Gallery
Open Area
- different writing tools
- mirrors will be secured on the back of the shelf
To that point, I called on Heidi to come and assist me and my new partner Ashley Vieira, when setting up our new classroom environment at the end of August. After much reflection, dialogue and several room configurations later, the vision and beliefs that support my teaching philosophy took shape in this new space and we felt confident in the "second home" we had designed for our new students. We ensured that the space was set-up to invite curiosity, encourage risk-taking and promotes the idea of having the space act as the "third teacher" in the room. 

Building and Construction Area
- open-ended building materials
- clipboards / pencils
Discovery and Exploration Area- natural and found materials
- collected artifacts
Self-Moderated Snack Area
Reading Corner / Quiet Area

Discovery and Exploration Area
- open-ended materials
- loose parts
After seeing many other inspiring educators blog and post beautiful pictures of their classroom set-ups and designs, I wanted to share a similar post but also shed light on the reflections and dialogue behind it. 

Open-Ended Materials
- for Math Exploration, Free Exploration

Over the last two weeks, Ashley and I have witnessed firsthand the power of letting our students help make the space their own and make their "mark" in many different ways around the room. We couldn't feel more excited to see how the space has already sparked their creativity and wonder, and we know that upon our daily conversations, new transformations will continue to take shape as part of this wonderful new beginning!  

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