From kindy to year 1

In a school far far away the classes were doing their annual transition …

Some children, particularly the younger ones, were feeling anxious, some didn’t even want to go to school that day even though they’d had a really good year last year.  Their parents were upbeat, reminding them of all the good and exciting things that were going to happen that day.

At school all the children were gathered up and taken to a big room inside a building.  Their parents hovered outside and, while they were out in the glorious sunshine they were completely in the dark about what was happening inside.  They started to feel some of the anxiety their children had been expressing earlier.

After a while some groups of students came out. Many parents, relieved now to see their childrens happy faces followed them to their new classroom and went off to enjoy their day safe in the knowledge their child was settled and they’d know where to find them in the afternoon.

Slowly, some in groups, some alone, teachers started to come out too.  One was mobbed by the parents of the children they taught last year.  The parents were told, from the teachers memory, which students from their previous class their child was with.  The teacher could not tell them where their childs classroom was, only the teachers name.

The parents set off wandering around the school, some alone, some gathered in groups to try to see where they would need to meet their children in the afternoon.  They discovered classrooms inside the building the children had gone into and waited patiently for the classes to settle so they could see if their children were there, when suddenly a school leader appeared and asked firmly ‘Parents! I must ask you leave this area!’.

Defiantly, some stayed, sneaking glances into the small windows to try to get some kind of reassurance they would be able to find their children in the afternoon. Others, now visibly sick with worry, called to them, is my child in there?

The parents gathered outside the outdoor classrooms discussing their feelings about the morning.

Do you have any postive thoughts on how this could’ve been managed differently?

Homework … help!

Today I find myself in the unusual position of railing against homework at my daughter’s primary school while simultaneously in an argument with my teenager about the value of revision. Unsurprisingly I have a million questions: ‘Do my teenagers hate homework because they were made to do it an early age?’ ‘Do teachers ‘like’ homework?’ ‘Do parents like homework?’ are some.  All the primary school teachers I’ve asked say they only give homework because parents expect it, yet all the parents I talk to say it causes arguments at home and they don’t want it.

Some parents tell me it’s too hard for their children.  Others it’s too easy and doesn’t relate to what they’re doing in class.  Some parents want to spend quality time remembering with their children what they did on the weekend and helping them express it clearly in a written or artistic form.  Others are upset their child spent last weekend with their former partners new partner, while both biological parents worked.

I got to this point today when a parent posted in my kinder daughters school ‘underground facebook group’ asking if anyone has this weeks yr2 spelling words.  I had to ask more about this because of the angst I experienced 10 or so years ago strongly encouraging my sons to practise their spelling words. I wanted to know if they still use the “look, say, cover, write, check” method of learning to spell.  My boys and I had so much fun making up stories with those spelling words, seeing what we could do with 10 or 20 simple words. Or should I say, I had fun, the boys were more interested in quickly writing the words out in a column so they could go play in the treehouse.

They always did well in the spelling test at the end of the week, of course they did.  They wrote the words out every day, they were stuck in their heads on Friday.  The problem is they can’t spell them now, well one of them can – he’s a natural speller. In two weeks one will start his year 11 exams, in preparation for his final year of school. I’m not exactly sure what contribution those yr2 arguments about homework will have on his final results, but I do know that I’m being much more relaxed with his little sister and I’m very grateful she doesn’t really have homework yet.

I’m trying to emphasise revision now for all my children, in an interesting way. No busy work please, let’s talk about what you did in school today; what did you learn, what can you teach me?  My little one and I talk about her upcoming news items and plan ahead for the letter of the week in a playful way.  I wonder at what point planning for news becomes less playful and why?

I’m still learning and I’d really like to hear what you think.  What do you love and what do you hate about homework?  Can you help me and my children with your ideas about learning at home please?

Another reason I love my job

Hi kelly,
I have just posted what we did for maths this morning on our blog.
I am so excited. I feel like a big kid.
I got heaps of comments from the kids last nights.
There is no stopping me.
Thank you so much

This is the email I received today from a yr3 teacher who earlier this year told me she doesn’t even like using the computer at home to check email.

Yesterday we had a video conference with @mitchsquires and his yr3 class of accomplished bloggers.  We’ve been looking at their blogs for about a term and finally meeting them and hearing their thoughts on blogging has flicked the switch.  So inspired was their teacher that immediately after the VC she went and created a blog and the rest is in the making.

I still get goose bumps reading that email.  Thinking about the looks on the faces of the students during the conference and afterwards when they saw their own class blog, I’m sure there’ll be a few student blogs to share after the holidays.

Thanks to NSW DET for the video conferencing and blogging facilities that helped make this happen and …

Thank you Mitch and The Blog Dogs – you are truly inspirational.