Saturday, May 29, 2010
The Power we Have
It's a busy and energized time in kindergarten. We are busily writing the last pages for our memory books/student portfolios and trying to keep routines consistent to reduce anxiety about the end of the school year. I've been caught a bit by surprise at the honesty and articulate comments from my students about the leap to first grade. While completing a page: "First grade will be"... one of my sweet little girls, I'll call "Sophie" wrote: boring and sad. It will be unhappy and bad. Not only did her words reflect her fear and anxiety about the transition to a new class, her picture disturbed me even more as sad faced students hid under desks. Not sure whether I should get into a discussion about this, my intern's presence somehow encouraged me. Sometimes just having a back-up adult gives you confidence to approach tricky topics! We asked Sophie about her picture and writing. After validating her fear, we asked if maybe she could imagine first grade a little differently. Sophie is known for simultaneously getting fixated on ideas but also having a wonderful imagination so this was a serendipitous moment for us. I told her I would write down her reply as she sometimes feels overwhelmed by remembering and writing her big thoughts: "First grade will be happy, first grade will be nice, first grade will be delightful, sugar and spice." I smiled through my misty eyes and she beamed. I asked if she would read her poem to a neighboring teacher across the hall, anxious for her to repeat her words and hopefully begin to believe them. My colleague asked Sophie to write and illustrate her "new version" and asked if she could use it as a sample for her class. Thrilled, Sophie returned to class and wrote about her new vision of first grade. As she drew her new picture, she spoke to herself quietly, "I think first grade will be a lot like kindergarten."