Kindergarten begins in Kindergarten
Change is what makes the world go round. Aside from what anyone wants, it’s going to inevitably happen so why not embrace it?! The examples are endless when it comes to what would have happened (or not happened for a better choice of words) if we had not embraced change. Can anyone say Curbside Pickup? I didn’t know I needed this in my life until it was in my life. I embraced the change and have seen the benefits of it. It has saved me so much time (and money from my uncontrollable impulse buys) that I sometimes forget what it was like without it. Transfer that into my kindergarten classroom, times have changed! In our district at least, we are expected to have our kiddos reading when they leave us in May. Fluently, reading *palm to face*! This has changed from the play kitchen and construction centers I had when I was in kindergarten. I have to embrace this change and create an environment that promotes it in a proactive way not reactive.
My stance on standardized testing feels irrelevant because I have never had to fight that beast (major kudos to every single teacher that has had to endure it). Having only ever taught the little ones, I assess and assess and assess. No, they do not have a test at the end of the year that determines their fate, but the accountability for both the student and I is still there and I will agree is needed. Questions arise when those assessments are based on, well what do you know, our standards. Those standards are not tailored to each student and that is where I feel the system has tunnel vision and refuses to see nor understand what that means within my classroom. I have a wide range of students within my four walls, as I’m sure every single one of you do, but the standards do not account for that. The students are expected to come in with some sort of prior knowledge, and, if that’s the case, these standards are going to have to start at home. We all know how that goes. That is likely why I enjoyed Ken Robinson’s speech the most. He explained it in such a “common sense” way, yet I have never been told this in any previous course or PD. They’ve lived on this planet for 60 months when they walk in my door. 24 of those months they spent learning how to walk and talk. Another twelve of those months they hopefully learned some basic cause and effect. If I jump off this bed, it’s going to hurt. Another twelve of those months, they put all those things they previously learned, and function with them on a day to day basis, probably making a mistake (wetting the bed, falling over air, spilt milk) daily and learning how to correct them. The standards assume each student will somehow have correct pencil grip and a basic sense of what a letter is when they let go of their parents at the door and see me staring back at them. I’d like to believe my room is magical, but, sadly, I am no magician. Standards are the norm. I would like to see the norm be different for every one of my students.
After watching the videos, reading blended, and a few of the other articles, I’ve come to the conclusion that my district truly believes because we are a 1:1 student to Chromebook district, that we can check off the box of incorporating technology into our school. Clearly, not the case. I will admit; I thought we were getting the job done as well. The district presents it in a way that we are privileged to have this opportunity. We absolutely are, but we’re doing a disservice to ourselves, the students, and our community when those 1:1 devices are not being used productively. Within my classroom, we do incorporate station rotations, but not in a way that the book and videos described. I’d like to think that is why my stations are not as successful as I’d hoped they would be. It’s currently set up with five stations (fine motor play, IXL, word work, etc.) and a teacher small group making me the sixth station. It’s a factory just as one of the videos explained. Ten to twelve minutes in each station for a total of roughly an hour or so. Where is the productivity?! Between those twelve minutes, I cross my fingers no one has stopped wanting to be someone else’s friend, no one has had an accident, and no one has cut a piece of their clothing (you know the real problems of 2021). It’s a well oiled machine that breaks daily! In retrospect, it’s built to fail. Having a system where my time and my student’s time is productive, is worth any change needed, and I believe this is where blended learning could play a major role in that change.