Monday, September 12, 2016

Start of the Year Inspiration

I love to get inspiration from the blogosphere. That inspiration comes from lots of different places--reading blogs, checking Twitter, reflecting on books, talking with friends. Here are some links to things that have inspired my thinking as this new school year has started. (More beginning of the year inspiration.)

Say Good-Bye to Calendar Time (Teach Preschool)
Deborah reviews some of the reasons she changed her morning routines and discontinued the traditional calendar activities. "When I asked myself, 'Is the precious time we spend everyday on these kinds of rote drills truly the most meaningful and valuable use of our time?' or 'Does calendar time lead to meaningful conversations' or 'Does calendar time assist in building a strong community' or 'Are the children loving the process?' I had to say 'no.'”

Check out the related Studentcentricity broadcast: Is It Time to Dump Calendar Time and Letter of the Week?

Thief (Austin Kleon)
This poster shared by Austin still has me thinking. "The worst thief is he who steals the playtime of children."
(So much thinking, in fact, that I wrote about it.)

Upcycled Inventors Box (Little Worlds)
Ann writes about using recycled and repurposed items for play. Put all those things in a box and let the kids enjoy creating and exploring. "Never before have I come across a 'toy' that is as self sufficient, ever changing and always popular as the inventor’s box."

The 40 Book Challenge Revisited (Donalyn Miller)
Donalyn reviews her idea of the 40-book challenge and the ways that others have implemented or adjusted it. In doing so, some of these teachers have totally negated the rationale behind it. "Honestly, I don’t care if all of my students read 40 books or not. What matters is that students stretch themselves as readers and increase their competence, confidence, and reading motivation through their daily participation in our reading community." While this particular post does target practices for older students, it reminds me that I should (1) understand the WHY behind a recommended practice or strategy and (2) evaluate everything I do and make sure I know why I'm doing something and how to fit the strategy to meet my kids--and not the other way around.

Teaching Certainty (Seth Godin)
Seth challenges my thinking in broad ways all the time. In this short piece, he reminds us what students should be learning. "We've trained people to be certain for years, and then launch them into a culture and an economy where relying on certainty does us almost no good at all." He makes me want to rethink not only what I'm teaching but how I'm teaching it.

Teaching Tribe
I've become a part of the group The Teaching Tribe. It's been a great way to connect with other preschool teachers, get some inspiration (and ideas), and even encourage and be encouraged. I would recommend this group. But even more, I would recommend that you find a group of others (online or in real life) that could be a motivation, a support, an encouragement to you as you work with young children. Maybe a place to vent (occasionally) but really a place to grow.

I've been a part of Twitter for a while. I've been through various stages in my Twitter journey. At this point, Twitter is primarily a way for me to be inspired and to grow. How? By finding (and sharing) great articles or blogs. By connecting with other educators (of all levels). By participating in chats (like #teacherfriends) that builds skills and connection. Recently I asked this question: "What's your best advice for an early childhood teacher?" Here are some responses:
  • Let them play! Trust that they are learning! Just… Trust! @CarrieMarshall1
  • Know WHY you are doing what you do with children. Be able to articulate your reasons for how you plan, what you do, the environment @ece_nerd
  • 1. Trust that kids R learning while they play. 2. Stand up 4 what U know is right 4 kids. @sandychilton
  • Follow the student's lead! Observe and support them where they are. @spiraledu

Those are some inspirational words for this year. 

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