Getting Ready.. or as ready as we can

Getting Ready.. or as ready as we can

Dear Readers,

It’s been a while. Though I have not been writing, I have been thinking, reflecting, and working on myself,  like many of you. I wanted to take a moment to resurface and share some of what I have been thinking and reflecting and working on.

First, next school year. Okay, whoa. Everything keeps changing, so I have been trying to think about what I can anchor myself to, and if you’ve read Kids First, you know Christine and I spend a lot of time trying to figure out our beliefs and think its a worthwhile endeavor for all of us. So, since there is so little I can control, I have decided to think about what my beliefs look like across all the things I cannot control. This is an incomplete chart and changes as I think and reflect with more precision. The general idea though, has been really helpful in the midst of so much uncertainty.

My Beliefs

In a virtual space…In a distanced space…

In a blended space…

I believeTherefore,Therefore,Therefore,
Children have a right to bodily autonomy. To make their own choices about how their body moves and learns. Children do not need permission to fulfill basic human rights like going to the bathroom, having a snack, and changing positions/taking breaks/moving their body in safe waysI do not dictate how children participate in synchronous online learning. Snacks are not only fine, but encouraged. Moving around is okay, Children may lay down, stand and walk or fidget in whatever way they need.I create distanced spaces that provide choice, not just desks I provide clipboards and floor pillows, standing desks and seating options. Children make decisions about what they need for their bodies. We talk about ways to move to keep others safe and co-create “traffic patterns” so children can move with independence.I release control over children’s bodies, no matter if they are home or at school. I am mindful of health and safety and inform children of all the ways they can keep our community healthy and safe. I help children think of playful ways to maintain difference (cars in traffic, airplane wings, bubbles) and remind children they are the boss of their own bodies.
Community and relationships are the core of learning and must be centered in any conversation.I schedule zoom/google meets to sustain and build relationships. I meet with small groups for show and tells and community shares. I use children’s lived experiences to build connections and develop meaningful curriculum.I emphasize emotional connection when physical connection is not possible. I encourage and facilitate conversations all day in the classroom. I push back against “more” and “faster” when it comes at the expense of connection and community.
Play is how children learn. It is essential for their mental and social health. It is worthy of study and professional conversation.Play materials will be available- maybe a heavier emphasis on consumables- loose parts, cardboard, Time is spent engaged in play every day. Playful explorations will remain the core of the daily schedule- possible individually bagged or in tupperware.
Choice and agency must be preserved within all aspects of school

Then, also, I have been reading… a lot. And listening…. a lot. One book I would recommend for the early childhood folks out there is Cultivating the Genius of Black Children by Debra Ren Etta Sullivan. I keep rereading parts and thinking about the work I have to do. A blog post on that is coming. I have also been spending a lot of quality time with the characteristics of white supremacy culture and how that has manifested in my writing, teaching, and presenting. There is a longer post on that coming down the line as well.

UPCOMING STUFF:

Literacy, Play and Equity Webinar

In my ongoing listening and reading journey,  I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Joshua Castillo. Joshua has many years in education and has been helping teachers, families and kids talk about race, racism, equity in her current role as a consultant. Joshua comes from a reggio/play inspired world and anchors these conversations in her core beliefs about choice, agency, and children’s voices. I am so excited to be partnering with her and Renee Hauser on a workshop about play, literacy, and equity. I have learned so much from Joshua and know you will find her accessible and helpful. More on that workshop here.

Small Groups and Playful Explorations Webinar

Next week I will be partnering with an organization called CESA as part of their “Back to Better” series. I am part of a strand featuring the brilliant Towanda Harris and Jessica Martin. My part is going to be around the idea of playful explorations and small group work- whether we are virtual, 6 feet away from each other, or some other combination that has not been described yet. The goal of this workshop is related to the chart above in bridging beliefs with our new reality. Honestly, all kids need to play and feel joy. They will learn while doing so, I promise. If you teach in TK-5, this workshop will help you center your kids and what they need in joyful ways, while giving you time to do what you need. More on that workshop here.

Focus on Play for 4K and 5k Teachers

Last pitch, I promise. This is a 4 part series about play in PK/TK/K classrooms, whether virtual, socially distant, or blended. The goal of this workshop is to deepen our understandings around play, preserve the importance of play in the current reality, and connect with like-minded educators. I am looking forward to having some focused time with teachers, admin, and coaches of young children as we figure out how to navigate this current school year, and perhaps make some lasting changes for good. More on that workshop here.

And finally,

I have been working on a (free) unit for the start of the year. It has taken a village, and I am almost done. Keep your eyes posted for that as well.

 

As always, this blog and website aims to be HELPFUL. Sometimes, it is a place I flesh out growing ideas, sometimes I use it as a place to hold myself accountable, but at the end of the day, I hope it is a place where we can grow as a community. To that end, feel free to post comments and thoughts. I appreciate the time and energy you take in giving me feedback.

Stay healthy and safe.

 

3 Comments
  • Erin Hunter
    Posted at 20:28h, 23 July Reply

    This reminds me so much of the book, The Teacher You Want to Be – Essays about Children, Learning and Teaching. I reread it every summer because I love the part about Belief Statements and how that aligns to our practices. I would love to hear your thoughts on how parents can create their own belief statements around homeschooling or learning with a few peers outdoors.

  • Matthew Halpern
    Posted at 07:57h, 24 July Reply

    Thank you. For being you and sharing your thinking. I have been thinking so much myself and reading your words is so helpful. I hope to share your words with others so they can take some solace as well. This year is going to be one thing for sure – unpredictable. Your reminders are important, necessary, and comforting. Thank you… again.

  • Timi Birch
    Posted at 23:47h, 28 July Reply

    Thank you!

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