I have been spending some time learning and sharing with the wonderful people over at #kinderchat. While I don't teach kindergarten I am constantly inspired by what they are doing with their little people. I love how they are keeping things developmentally appropriate for their students, yet they too are pushing the limits on what little people can do. I LOVE it. Anyhow I love it so much that I have been following their blog and this summer they have created the Kinder Blog 2012 Challenge. Each week a topic will be posted and it is my job (and everyone else that's in the challenges job) to respond with a blog post. Here is this week's topic.What did you learn this past (or, for our southern hemisphere friends, what ARE you learning this current) school year that you couldn’t have learned any other year, from any other students or colleagues or administrators or parents? What lessons did this particular year, this particular setting, these particular children bring into your life?
posted by @happycampergirl for #Kinderchat #Kinderblog2012 Challenge
So here goes...
I could say it was getting connected, or getting my students to blog but both of those had more to do with me learning through twitter, than actually learning from my students, or colleagues or administrators or parents. For me one big theme that stood out with this bunch of students is working towards a goal with out giving up, in other words perseverance. I had several students with learning challenges yet not one of them ever complained about school being difficult. And no I didn't make it "easy" for them. The word "can't" was seen as a naughty word and was not used in our classroom. Every one applied themselves to the best of their ability day in and day out. It was a little piece of heaven really because some of them really did have a lot to complain about. But complaining didn't happen and instead they achieved so much.
My student who struggled with letter sounds was keen to blog and share his story . My highly anxious students were able to speak in front of the class. My limited English speakers took risks daily trying to improve their oral language skills. They all wanted to be the best that they could be yet they wouldn't let their challenge get in their way. But the one student that sticks out the most from this year, the one who stuck with it even though her challenge was so great, was my selective mute. She was a very special little girl.
For the sake of this blog post we'll call her Kayla (although that's not her real name). Kayla suffers from pretty severe anxiety enough that she will not speak at school. But Kayla came to school every day with a smile and always did her best. Although Kayla never spoke she was a very popular member of our class. She made her friends giggle, and would lend a helping hand when ever she could. Kayla was, and is a very bright student.
But Kayla was afraid to write in her journal at school. She kept a nightly home journal so we had writing to conference with. She always took my suggestions to heart and her writing improved dramatically over the course of the school year. Kayla was also an avid blogger. Blogging truly gave her a voice when her anxiety kept it from her. Blogging allowed her to express herself freely for all the world to hear. It also allowed her to communicate with her friends through the comments she left for them on their blogs.
But Kayla never let her anxiety stop her. She knew about our school's Musical Theater program and made sure that she was involved with it. Did I mention that she was the only student in my class that got involved with it? I'm very certain that she knew every word to the songs and that every night she practiced those songs until she could sing them perfectly. And on the day of the performance Kayla was up on stage with the rest of the choir. And she sang! (We'll no voice may have been heard but she moved her lips to the music which is HUGE for her).
Kayla reminded me that I must never under estimate the desire of a child. That even if there are obstacles along the way to achieving goals, goals can still be achieved. Kayla had the strength to persevere and step out of her comfort level to get what she wanted. She wanted to be on that stage singing her heart out, and she did.
Never let a "label" define a child. Let the child define who they are. My class this year, and particularly Kayla, reminded me of that over and over again. I'm glad I listened.
What a profound lesson to learn! Aren't we lucky to have such students in our lives, Karen? Way to go, Kayla!ReplyDelete
For certain. Kayla was a little rock star, as were all of my students. Although there are a lot of challenges at the grade one (heading to grade two) level at my school, those challenges didn't ever stop them from being the best that they could be. It has been a long time since I've had such a keen, hard working, motivated class despite so many challenges.Delete
I have never been presented with a child who chose to not speak. I've had my share of autistic and deaf children my first 7 of 17 years, but a choice? I don't know how I'd be as a teacher in that situation. It sounds like you and Kayla had a good relationship and understanding, and that's most of the battle, eh? I love the fact that she had multiple avenues to share her thoughts - I wish people hesitant to have tech or social media in their classrooms could read this post. Thank you for your reflection - one from which we can all learn!ReplyDelete
Thanks for your comment Joy. The thing with a selective mute is that you can not, in any way, draw extra attention to them. I don't think it's a choice for her either, it an anxiety disorder. But you can just see inside her eyes that she desperately wants to speak at school. We have another student at our school who in grade 4 started to talk one on one with specific chosen students. This year in grade five he started to talk fully. Now he can't stop! So there is a lot of hope for me students. I have full faith that "Kayla" will get there too and I hope that she will continue to blog, even if her grade two teachers doesn't go the blogging route. But trust me I will do what ever I can to support the teacher if she wants to get her students blogging. KDelete
There's always "that one" that teaches us the incredible lessons we get to learn each day! Thanks for sharing this wonderful reflection Karen!! Kayla and all the kids out there are very lucky to have you as their teacher!ReplyDelete
There is always more than one I find. Each one teaches something different. I chose, this time around, to focus on Kayla but in all reality I learned something special from each and everyone of them. Heck I've learned something special from every student I've taught the past 20 years. That's what makes are job so amazing. :-) Loving my connection with Kinderchat and they have been so welcoming to me. :-)Delete
What an amazing reflection. Thanks for sharing with us your story of Kayla.ReplyDelete
Thanks Meg. I had quite a year with a really wonderful children in my class. I still love that my selective mute joined the school's musical theatre choir and she was the ONLY ONE in my class that did. I love that.ReplyDelete