K/1, A Well Oiled Machine

With less than a month left of school, I am beginning to reflect on the year.  My class is truly feeling like a family unit, and we are all getting sentimental and appreciating our time together.  

By this time of year the students know all the classroom procedures and routines and can independently execute what they should be doing (most of the time).  When I have to leave the room for a minute, or privately speak to another teacher in the corner of the room, the students continue to stay on task and run the show. During their morning routine, independent seat work or presenting Show and Share, I see students respecting the rules, and doing tasks as though I was directing them.  When I had to make a photocopy during our morning routine last week, I saw the student whose job was weather, choose someone who was seated with their hand up to read the high temperature for the day. She then decided to count by 5’s on the thermometer to get to the number and she had her peers count along with her. The students helped count and waited patiently for her to put a tally mark on the weather chart before the attendance student began their job.  This may seem small, but at the beginning of the year, I would have had to remind students to raise a silent hand, try to follow along with the counting, and wait their turn until it was their job. When I stepped out of the room to speak to a parent during Show and Share, I could hear one student presenting and ask for only two questions (the rule) and not take advantage of me being out of the room. While writing each week’s “Weekend News,” the students now know exactly where to go in the classroom to help them focus and get their work done, they don’t need me to choose their seat. I no longer need to give reminders of “caps on markers”, “raise a silent hand” and instead get to watch the students make sure the tops of the glue sticks are on, open the cupboard to get a band-aid for a friend in need and wipe their whiteboards clean before returning them.

 The Buttons class family also knows each other much better.  This helps us function more smoothly and peacefully. Last week, after one student let out a particular sound, I saw another go and give her a hug. They explained that this sound meant she needed a hug. I see the Buttons understand that one friend prefers not to touch during high-five greetings and will instead give them an air high-five. I hear students not shouting out the answer as soon as they know it and giving their friends who need more time a chance to think about it.  Through a lot of problem solving and daily experiences together, the students know what makes each other tick and the Buttons are at the stage where they can respect and understand each other’s differences.

It is rewarding to be able to take a step back and watch the students be cognizant of each other and have the classroom run like a well oiled machine.  

I also start to think, how am I going to do this all over again next year?

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Meghan Brtnik

is a classroom teacher on the K-2 team. Originally from Toronto, Canada, Meghan was a substitute teacher at an international baccalaureate school in Toronto and at the Latin School of Chicago. She graduated from York University, Toronto, with a M.Ed. at the primary/junior level and completed an additional qualification course in special education. Meghan earned a B.A. from the University of Western Ontario in honors psychology, focusing on the psychological and social foundations in human behavior. In addition, Meghan has worked in a Montessori school, tutored students individually, and lived and worked at an all-girls boarding school.
For fun, Meghan loves traveling, trying out new restaurants, exploring new neighborhoods, swimming, reading, and walking.

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