A Collaborative Learning Journey

getting on the bus

Back-To-School…these 3 little words have been known to evoke a load of emotions in my house. As a mom of 3 very different, amazing kids, the emotions run the gamete…one who is so anxious he doesn’t sleep for days, one who LOVES school and can’t wait to see what challenges lie ahead for the year and one who is more excited about the opportunity to re-engage with friends and suddenly have a full football team again at recess than anything to do with the classroom.

However, I don’t just enter into Labour Day as a mom, preparing my 3 for their newest educational adventures…I prepare to go back to work. As a teacher, there are more than a few things that run through my head. Have I prepared enough? Have I used my time off to rest and return the best me I can be? Will I be able to support each of my students in a way that best suits their learning? Will my new ‘kids’ love coming to school? The list goes on and on. To say I take a ‘break’ from work is a bit of a long shot. Sure…I don’t spend every day in a class, I don’t have daily planning or assessment to complete but I do spend a lot of time reflecting on my past year and planning on how to make the coming one even more amazing. I attend workshops and gather learning materials, read books and collaborate with colleagues that I don’t get to see much during the year. All so that I can bring my best self back to class in September.

What I haven’t mentioned above…is that I teach Kindergarten. The notes above could be written by any number of teachers, teaching a variety of grades. But the Kindergarten teacher label brings a new twist. For many children, I am their introduction …to school…to a more structured learning environment…to time away from mom or dad…to the journey to make them life-long learners and explorers of the world outside their ‘nest’. This is probably what makes my job the most daunting…I get them first. It is up to me to take these wee people, engage them so their knowledge and love of life and learning blossom under my eye and support each of them on a journey to discover their interests and joys and persevere through challenges and wonderings. Parents everywhere, will expect this of their child’s first teacher…and it is an overwhelming task at times. However, as we shift to a new Kindergarten curriculum, a document that moves away from specific subject areas and allows us to educate the whole child as they progress through their development, it also highlights the need for home, community and school interaction. It addresses parents as a child’s first and most important teacher.

So – as we (the Kindergarten parent and myself) begin on this collaborative learning journey, I’d like to ask a few things…

  • Throughout the year, please touch base. I know everyone has crazy schedules, but feel free to come in and visit or book a time to chat about your child.
  • Keep an eye on my website or newsletters – often there are updates about learning adventures
  • Ask your child about their day…without the basic ‘What did you do today?’ Ask more open-ended questions so they refrain from one word answers.
  • Share news with me – good or bad – as it may affect the child’s learning at school.
  • Read every night – there is no simpler strategy for boosting your child’s success.
  • Engage in opportunities to continue the learning at home. Often teachers will send home documentation or post something about the day’s learning. There is often an extension or practice you can do at home.
  • Be proud. Take their work out of their planners or communication bags. Hang it up, talk about it, share it with others.

The list could go on and on. Of course there are always the basics we need you to do to help your child throughout the year (especially when we get started), like practicing zippers, shoe tying and buttons, opening and closing lunch containers, developing appropriate bathroom habits, dressing and undressing abilities…but parents are so much more than that. You have been their teacher until now – and now we share the job. Let’s make this partnership a good one and your child will benefit in ways neither of us could even imagine on day 1.

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