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Field Notes 2--Abby

asweeney's picture

What?  No technology used When spelling new words, the teacher writes on the board: “saw to frnds” instead of “saw too friends.” I assume this is a strategy for helping kids learn to spell phonetically. The students learn their letters by tracing them on whiteboards in their laps. The teacher describes the letter “a” as “ a ball and a wall.” 

One child  (Student A) really wants to tell everyone something. The teacher explains that now is not the time for chatting, but for reading When the teacher says he can tell her in private at recess, he says loudly that he doesn’t need to tell her in private. “I want to tell all of yall” he says to the circle. Child R lost his lunch.  His mother must have packed it but did not remember to put it in the backpack. R starts to cry hysterically and refuses to join the line to go out to recess. When he finally does go to recess, he embraces me in a hug and does not let go. He cries the whole recess, worried that he won’t have lunch. 

So What?

It’s interesting to me to see how kids need to be reminded of when it is appropriate to talk and share and when it is not. School’s timing is so strictly scheduled, and I imagine it is difficult for kindergarten students to adjust to this in the beginning.

Also this cute little boy who was so interested in sharing is the same little boy who had major behavioral issues the week before. Yay for him! Yay for teacher S! This reminds me that kids are really just learning, and that we should always allow schools to be settings where they feel comfortable starting over. While I knew that of course Child R would be given food, he was not aware that the school would provide for him. This his first year of school, and on every other day he has eaten the lunch prepared for him by his mother. Why should he trust that anything else should happen? The fact that he was so scared reminds me that children are so vulnerable when school starts, as they really don’t know what to expect or who to trust. They are also so innocent and precious. 

A lot of children have SO MUCH energy in kindergarten. Isn’t it sad we ask them to spend so much time sitting down? Or maybe it’s good that we are asking them to learn how to sit still since this is something that happens in the real world?

Now What?

I wonder what teachers are told at teacher development meetings ect about making sure kids know that school is a place where they can trust adults---like the teacher who says that yes you will have lunch---and feel safe. I predict that students most likely learn that school is a safe place through their initial experiences. Its seems vital to me, then, that teachers are trained as to how to make their classrooms feel trusting and safe for the students.

Looking forward to seeing what kind of technology is used next time. 



alesnick's picture

safe to start over

Trust is so vital to learning, and to growth.  Your focus on the crucial role of safety in allowing kids to grow, change, and start over is very sound.  I worry that the focus on testing we've seen, including in kindergarten, over the past years, has made it even harder for teachers to keep their focus here.  I wonder how computers could open up space for people to do the work only people can do: care!

emmagulley's picture

"A lot of children have SO

"A lot of children have SO MUCH energy in kindergarten. Isn’t it sad we ask them to spend so much time sitting down? Or maybe it’s good that we are asking them to learn how to sit still since this is something that happens in the real world?"


I so relate to your point here!  

Last semester I observed a classroom of third graders at a private, Catholic school first thing in the morning.  It was their class policy to spend the first hour--hour and a half in the morning sitting silently at their desks, doing independent work and finishing homework.  At first I was so impressed that they all sat quietly and worked diligently, but as the semester wore on I began to question why it is that we "fight against" the energy that little kids inherently have.  What does it even truly mean to be "well behaved?"  

Sometimes I feel like as we get older we spend so much of our lives sitting--in a classroom, in front of a computer, in a car, at a table, etc etc etc.  An anthropologist told me that sitting isn't actually even a "normal" position for our spines to be in, and that sitting (or at least sitting the we way we think of it) isn't a natural instinct to someone who's never seen a chair...

There are so many initatives about keeping kids moving and fighting against childhood obesity... Maybe we're starting at the wrong ends of things.  I understand that kindergarten is when kids learn about how to behave in school, but maybe if our classrom curriculum allowed kids to be "kids" inside the school, rather than suddenly becoming "students" we'd have healthier, happier kids.  

Anyway, I don't have an answer or a solution to your question, but I definitely sympathize.  We want kids to be happy and healthy and we want them to love school... Then we train them that school involves sitting at a stationary desk all day, going home, and sitting down, and doing homework, and then doing the same thing for the next 12 years of school.  And then we wonder why kids have behavior "issues" and get restless and bored?