Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Bringing Something New Into the Classroom

I have butterflies in my stomach—I almost feel like I’m going back to school to learn too. Being at the same school for multiple years gives me an advantage and insight I would never have walking into a new school. Last summer, I sat down and talked with the Principal about what this school really needs. She expressed concern about socialization skills, particularly among the kindergarten and first grade students. Kindergarten teachers would come to her in tears, asking for psych evaluations of their students. Rather than sitting quietly and coloring, students threw crayons around the room. Students would fight and chairs would be thrown. The classrooms were chaotic and the kids just wouldn’t listen.

Of course, there is nothing psychologically wrong with these kids, they just don’t know any better. Five and six year olds with troubled family lives, never having toys of their own, do not know how to share or respect authority. These are skills that many of us learn at an early age, sometimes before we can even walk or talk, but with an unstable family life or sometimes no consistent authority figure, what may be second nature to many of us, doesn’t exist for children growing up in poverty.

After learning of the new challenges at my school, I was THRILLED to go back to my team and develop a new curriculum, focusing on socialization skills. The curriculum has been developed for all grades K-12, but we put a lot of focus on the younger grades, knowing mastering these skills can make the greatest impact on these kids’ lives.

I can’t wait for tomorrow. I’m excited to meet the kids and hit the ground running with what we can achieve together, but I’m most excited about this new socialization curriculum plan. Kids need to master socialization skills in order to be ready to learn in school and in turn, make the classroom conducive to learning.