Sunday, September 8, 2013

Fresh, Shiny, and New

So year-end craziness in May and June combined with two months of summer fun has been hard on my blog. But it's a brand new school year and I'm excited to share what's been happening in my classroom. I'm also planning to post on some exciting project-based learning that occurred in June in my K room, leaving me far too busy to document it at the time.

This is my sixth year of teaching kindergarten, and every year I refine my start up procedures. The first week is under my belt, and I was really pleased with how smoothly everything went. I am teaching a combined junior and senior kindergarten program again, and I have 15 four year-olds and only 5 returning five year-olds. With 75% of my students and their parents being new to the program and classroom, it was more important than ever to explain things clearly and make sure everyone understood the procedures and routines in my classroom.

It only makes sense that your first contact with a family should be a positive one. At the beginning of August, I mail out a welcome letter for the child, a kindergarten handbook for the family, and a school supply list. I also add new parents to our classroom Facebook page, and give last year's families a couple of weeks' notice that I will be removing them from the page.

This year, my welcome letter was printed on pink paper and contained a handful of pink feathers. Parents reported that it was a big hit with their children!
 Tickled Pink welcome letter
Kindergarten Handbook
My kindergarten handbook has been a work in progress for years--it's been added to and changed ever since I taught Grades 1 and 2. I conference with all families the day before kindergarten begins, and the first thing we do is review the handbook together. It gives me a wonderful opportunity to make sure everyone understands rules, procedures, and expectations, and I can answer any questions.

Parent/Child First Day Booklet
When families drop in for their conference, they bring their child and his/her school supplies. They complete this booklet together, touring different areas of the room. Then they sit down, enjoy a snack, and meet with me. First we go through the school supplies, making sure that the child's name is written on every item. Then the child puts them away in his/her cubby, with me assisting as needed.

Conference Checklist
This conference checklist guides our discussion. I review every point on the checklist with parents, then give them the checklist to take home.

Remind 101
This year, I asked all parents to bring their mobile phones to the pre-kindergarten conference. I added everyone to Remind 101, an app that allows me to text everyone at once. I think it's going to be great for quickly getting the word out and reminding parents of classroom happenings.

I always take the traditional first day of school pictures of my kindergarten kids. Last year, they each held up a sign saying, "First day of junior/senior kindergarten 2012". This year, I decided to take the pictures with my iPad and use Overgram to add text. The parents and I were thrilled with the results. Thanks to the families who agreed to let me share these! Have a look....

Who doesn't think that teaching kindergarten is the best job in the world? One look at those adorable faces, so full of promise, confirms it for me. Here's to another great school year ahead!

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