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KINDERGARTEN ORIENTATION

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					KINDERGARTEN ORIENTATION:

Intro Self
Personal: Married 40 years, 4 children (3 boys, 1 girl) (ages 35,
34, 31, and soon to be 28). All four are college graduates. My
three sons work in technology field, making computer games
(Harry Potter, Star Wars, etc.) or game engines, daughter is a
Research Analyst at University of Washington. My first
grandchild, Eli, arrived on August 5, 2011. I love to garden, swim,
read, look at antiques, Mariner’s fan, pottery, collect children’s
books/dolls----especially storybook characters.

Professional: This is my 11th year at Maplewood. Previously
taught cooperative preschool (West-Edmonds Preschool) and at
Brighton (private preschool thru 8th grade). I have worked in 4th
grade and 2nd grade as well. Have extensive early childhood
background/degrees (CDA, ECE, Early Childhood endorsement),
BA in Human Development/minor in English, Master’s in Human
Development. Strong interest in Science and Math---previously
taught math to kindergarten and first graders here at
Maplewood. In 2006, I earned National Board Certification as an
Early Childhood Generalist.

I love working here and the community feel to our school. I love
running into my students at the grocery store, mall, etc., great
staff at Maplewood-love working with them all, you’ll find we’re a
pretty close-knit group.

Philosophy:
My philosophy is to try to meet each child where he/she is at and
take them as far as I can. I want them to think that school is a
most fun place to be….even if there are a few rules to follow and
work to be done. My greatest strength (on my good days!) is
motivating students to work and think it’s their own idea. Social
skills are at the very heart of all that we do and we will learn to
appreciate each and every one in our class while learning to use
our manners and show respect for everyone.
Academics---I have district standards that must be met and each
lesson/activity is designed to meet some part of those standards.
I do not teach “Letter of the Week” which is a too slow, outdated
style quickly being replaced with authentic, real-world activities
that are more meaningful to children, many of which are
literature-based. In some activities there will be a ‘focus’
letter/letters to work on. We will begin with many activities
based on their names as nothing is more personal to a child than
his/her name and that of their friends. In essence, I will talk
about all the letters, all the time…..and I think you will be amazed
at how the children’s names will allow me to teach about
letters/letter-sounds, and words/grammar. Whenever I can, our
academics will be presented in the form of games and other
‘hands-on’ activities. This may appear to be ‘play’ but this is how
children learn best, by ‘playing’ with all kinds of materials…..make
no mistake though, this is play with a purpose. Do not expect to
see many worksheets come home. I do more ‘recording’ type
sheets where they record the information they are working on
and generally keep these until they finish a set. It is my opinion
that worksheets actually teach very little…show me a worksheet
that you think teaches something and I can show you a way to
teach the activity better in a hands-on way.

Our curriculum will be reviewed at our October teacher time.
Our district has adopted a new literacy curriculum which is new
to me too and this will be our third year with a new math adoption
called, Math Expressions. It will be a learning experience for all
of us. For science, we use Foss Science Kits or Inquiry-based
science units I've developed myself. Social Studies will revolve
around learning about important historical figures, holiday
celebrations, our classroom community and the greater community
at large, plus some civic responsibilities..

Expectations:
Child expectations
Expectations children can have---feel safe, comfortable,
  respected by all
 Attitude—fun to learn, must try, no whining (I don’t speak
  ‘whinese’)
 Rules—good attitude, choices, Choice Box—1. Be Safe 2. Be
  Kind, 3. Be Honest, 4. Keep your dear teachers happy.
Parent expectations
 Open and honest communication
 How to communicate-email, phone, notes
 Punctuality and reliability- Morning rotations are from 9:15
  a.m. until 12:40 p.m., Afternoon rotations are from 1:40 p.m.
  until 3:50 p.m. until Quiet Time ends, then if possible, come at
  1:10-3:50 p.m. (yes, afternoons are shorter periods, but you
  will be dealing with children who are tired and irritable and
  fewer {you may be the only parent here} adult hands for
  helping).
 ENTHUSIASM!!!!!!!!!! Be enthusiastic but be careful about
  ‘revving’ students up, recognize that what may seem harmless
  for one child, can have a different effect on a whole group of
  children.
 Parents are models for all children—be enthusiastic, talk
  positively about school and others in front of children and
  whenever they are in ‘ear-shot’. Keep in mind that there are
  NO secrets in kindergarten….they tell all, so make sure that
  they don’t have ‘gossip’ to repeat as this causes hard feelings
  all around. Try not to respond to ‘parking lot’ gossip, nor pass
  along information that may not be totally accurate.
 Be consistent and follow through.
 Eliminate “Don’t” from your vocabulary and replace with
  directives such as, “I need you to…” or “Please write/draw/…” .
 Always be respectful, ask permission, treat children as you
  would want to be treated and do not give your child any special
  consideration in the classroom---i.e., if the group is sitting on
  the rug, your child may not sit in your lap, must be on the rug
  with the group, doing the same.
 NEVER, NEVER ask questions like, “Do you want to….?” When
  you want them to do something, tell them what it is that you
  want, i.e., “Please write your name at the top of the paper.”

Kindergartners:
    Expect them to be tired the first couple of weeks.
    Remember they are trying very hard to be on their best
      behavior for a very long time---this translates into them
      falling apart for you at home. It will get better!
    Discovering their world
    Excited to learn
    Developing their personality
    Interested in making friends
    Learning to communicate
    Developing fine and gross motor skills
    May have difficulty separating from home/parents
Routines:
9:15 a.m. door opens (before 9:15, they go to commons to wait),
   school begins promptly at 9:20 a.m.
 Working parents are expected to arrive right at 9:15 a.m.
   to help with students’ arrival, (one works with sign-in, one
   parent can read to children in the library, one can help
   students to unpack, get out folders, place in proper place—
   take out any notes, etc.)
 Come in, put backpack/folder away/Working parents remove
   papers from folders, put in my box or Parent Coordinator’s
   box.
Sign in for attendance
Quietly read a book in class library
Schedule (written on whiteboard)
Math-I will do a whole group lesson and parents will help to
   monitor children, keeping them on task, helping clarify
   directions, pass out materials, remedy shortages, etc.
Reader's Workshop (a parent will man each section)
Recess (morning, lunch, afternoon)
 Snack (1 item plus drink, no more please)-1 afternoon snack per
   day-this is a short 10-minute time.
*Lunch-No Hot Lunch First Month (they have enough to adjust
to)
   Microwave availability – There is a one-minute rule for the
   microwave, nothing will be microwaved longer than one-minute
   (if all 22 children need to microwave, that’s 22 minutes right
   there….we have a total of 30 minutes to eat).
 3rd grade buddies, Friday mornings
 Choice time – unstructured time for self-directed discovery-a
   time to practice skills learned previously, social skills.
   End of day- bus tags, pack up
 Bus/Carpool/Playdates – I will make up a master list that tells
   me how your child goes home each day. For your child’s sanity
   and yours and mine, this should be the same every day. It is
   too confusing to expect a 5-6 yr. old to remember to take the
   bus one day, be picked up by carpool the next. When you have
   a time that the schedule must be different (playdate,
   appointments, etc.), YOU MUST LEAVE ME A NOTE (dated)
   in my teacher box. Without a written note, I will have the
   child do what they normally do. Please remember that in
   kindergarten, I may not always be able to check my email or
  telephone calls during school hours and may very well miss your
  change information that way, especially if it is last
  minute/same day.

Communication
    Backpack to and from school each day
Folder with mail to be checked by parents each day
Classroom newsletter weekly via email (hard copy if requested)
What do kindergarteners learn?
    Reading Readiness (letters/sounds/sight words)/Most will
     be reading by year’s end
    Sight Words
    Writing
    Math
    Social Studies and Science
    Art
    Recess/Social Skills/Choice time
    P.E., Music, Library (technology)
What do Kindergarten Parents Do?
    Parent Training/Meet with me for tips.
    Arrival- Punctual, if working come early, read over the
     Workshop activities (literacy) directions so you will know
     what you are to do.
    Math-usually whole group, then math groups (parents man a
     group) when time allows.
    Recess-Parents go with to help with injuries/bathroom trips
    End of the day – if picking up child or if working
    Committees
    coffee (recognize the danger/spill hazard – please set aside
     while working)
    no cell phone use while in your rotation.
    Model appropriate behavior, i.e., interact with kids,
     introduce yourself, get down to their level (sit or crouch
     down), be enthusiastic, ask questions, don’t give the
     answers, respect each child’s individuality, listen to
     teacher’s directions, keep the kids involved, give tons of
     positive reinforcement (minimum 10 positives for every 1
     negative is good rule of thumb), if unsure how to discipline a
     child, ask me—give a warning about the choice box, then
     follow through. They will walk all over you if you allow it. Be
     kind, but firm, and remember that when someone else
     disciplines YOUR child—it’s because we’re a village, helping
     children to be the best they can be. Any discipline
     measures taken should be kept discreetly confidential.
     Anecdotal episodes are okay to report to a parent, but no
     parent likes to hear from another parent about the
     misbehavior of their child. Recognize that how you view a
     situation may not be how a teacher views it.
All Day Kindergarten
    There will be a rest time – Bring a large towel w/name
     clearly visible, provide a plastic bag with child’s name clearly
     visible for transporting/storage—Name marked on outside
     of bag.
    Make adjustments the first 2-4 weeks if necessary, but be
     consistent—by end of October everyone should be coming
     everyday, all day. Very important to remember that a
     teacher/school cannot help children to progress if they are
     not here. Every day in kindergarten is important!
Arrival/Departure:
    School begins at 9:20 a.m.
    Kindergarten door opens at 9:15 a.m.
    Early arrivals must remain in the gym until 9:15 a.m.
    School ends at 3:50 p.m.—except for the first week-- we
     do slow start and school will end at 12:20 p.m. Sept.
     7th-10th.
    Please make every effort to consistently be on time for
  pick-up—children will be taken to the office to wait if you are
  late. Know that they get very upset when they are the last to
  be picked up.
   When students arrive, they will sign-in by writing their
     name(or trace—their choice) on their name plate, show to an
     adult and place in the bin. Adults will encourage students to
     write their name as per the example, gently having them try
     again if they use all capitals/have incorrect letters. Do not
     make a big deal of this the first few weeks, then we will try
     to catch them and have them re-do their name correctly.
   Please let me or our PC know right away if your child will
     ride the bus and which bus number. I do bus duty and take
     students to the buses after class while the working parent
     takes the carpool line out to carpools.

Attendance:
   Attendance at school is very important, as is being on time.
     Your attention to planning your time so that you arrive on
     time sends an important message to your child about the
     importance of school.
   Call the office in the morning if your child will not attend
     school that day.
   Your child should be fever-free/symptom-free (no
     vomiting, diarrhea) for a FULL 24 hours before he/she
     returns to school after an illness. We must be especially
     stringent in this due to the Swine Flu. It is very difficult to
     concentrate on learning when you don’t feel well, and not
     fair to the others to be exposed to illness unnecessarily.
   Try to plan appointments (dentist, doctor, etc.) for non-
     school days or after school.
   Try to plan vacations and trips around school holidays.
Backpacks:
   Backpack/FOLDER must be brought to school daily.
   Please check backpack daily and remove important papers.
   Have a set spot for keeping backpack.
   Students will bring a pee-chee type folder for transporting
    important papers and projects to and from school. Be sure
    their name is on the top right hand corner in large, readable
    letters (First letter capital, rest lowercase/First and Last
    name).
   Bring appropriate outer gear for the weather—we go
    outside everyday no matter what the weather is.

Computers:
   Students use classroom computer programs that reinforce
    literacy/math/problem solving skills.
   In the spring, they may have the opportunity to go to the
    computer lab as part of their library time.
   You will need to sign a permission form for your child to be
    able to take part in any online programs. These are strictly
    monitored and no ‘surfing’ the Internet is allowed.
Home-School Reading Connection
   Plan to read to your child many times during the day—it’s a
    great transition for coming home from school, reconnecting
    and discussing the day’s happenings and is a great way to
    unwind before going to bed.
   Children can check out books from the school library on a
    weekly basis. They may check out a new book when the
    previous book is returned.
   Classroom books may be borrowed as well with a simple
    check-out/check-in system, best done on the parent’s
    designated work day.
Handedness:
   Right or left handedness is not always well-established upon
    entering kindergarten.
   It is usually established by the age of 7/8.
    Offering items to the right hand may encourage right-hand
      dominance, but in the end, handedness is fairly genetic and
      trying too hard to switch a child may cause difficulties in
      learning.
Left to Right Progression:
    Left to right progression teaches a systematic way of doing
      things.
    Parents can encourage left to right by:
      1. Having child touch count objects starting on left.
      2. Pointing to words as you read to your child.
Newsletters:
Newsletters (The Flash) will be sent via e-mail unless you tell me
   you need a hard copy.
Newsletters (The Flash) will relate important information on
   school activities and events.
Classroom newsletters, relating specifics to our classroom and
   written by me, will be sent home weekly via email, unless you
   notify me that you need a hard-copy. Generally I do these on
   Wednesdays, but sometimes you may not receive it until
   Friday.

Outerwear:
Please make sure any jacket, coat, sweater, sweatshirt, etc. is
   clearly labeled with your child’s name. Many, many items are
   identical and end up unclaimed in lost and found.
Send your child dressed for appropriate weather each day. Plan
   on us going outside for recess every day whatever the
   weather.
Encourage your child to tie, zip or fasten by him/herself. Keep
   this in mind when you purchase new coats, etc., make sure your
   child can be independent.

Report Cards:
 Kindergarten students receive report cards twice during the
  school year. Once in early February and again at the end of
  the year.
 There will be parent conferences scheduled in October.
  Kindergartners will attend half-days during conference week.
  There will be a sign-up sheet about two weeks before.
  Additional parent conferences may be scheduled throughout
  the year at parent or teacher request.



Reversals:
Five and six year olds many times write numbers and letters
   backwards.
It is a developmental function of the brain.
It usually disappears by second grade and is not a concern at the
   kindergarten level.
Snack/Lunch:
 Your child will bring his own snacks every day and may buy or
   bring lunch. Lunch tickets can be purchased ahead (online or
   by check to the kitchen) and allow your child to buy lunch
   without needing daily money.
 Remember snack is a short interval, send only one item for
   snack plus a drink/water. Make snack something that you know
   your child can eat in a relatively short time (10 minutes) and
   something that provides nutritious fuel (no junk food) for
   these busy workers.
 Due to allergy concerns, food is never shared.
 If your child forgets to bring a snack, he/she will be offered
   something from my emergency supply which generally consists
   of pretzels or goldfish crackers. If your child is a frequent
   user of this privilege, I would appreciate donations to the
   supply. If they forget lunch, they can buy lunch and have it
   charged to you, you must reimburse.
 Sharing—Children will share their writing from journals, they
  will share in groups/individually items they have worked on
  throughout the year, the new math requires multiple ways of
  students’ sharing and I occasionally have them share items
  made during Choice Time. These types of sharing will give
  them the necessary practice of speaking in front of a group,
  but without the pressure to bring something from home.
 Shoe Tying:
 Encourage your child to tie his/her own shoes.
 Check with the teacher if you need help in this area.
 We do not spend time in class learning this skill as fewer
  children seem to wear tie shoes.

Homework:
 Most important---READ, READ, READ to your child
  EVERYDAY!!! A minimum of 30 minutes each day!
   Each month a homework calendar will be sent home. To
    start the year, choose 2 items each week that your child
    would like to complete and return the calendar portion
    marking what you did. When there are activities that
    require separate paperwork, attach those for me to see
    (many of the activities do not require a paper and it is an
    honor system—if you mark that you and your child did
    something, I will believe you). In January, I will require 4
    activities per week. You are free to do more than the
    number required and most children do. I will also send home
    Fast Start For Readers poetry to be done two nights,
    preferably in a row for no more than 10 minutes each
    night—the directions will be with the poems. I will send
    math homework workbook pages home periodically. If it
    seems too easy/too hard for your child, let me know. Do not
    let homework become a battle between you and your child.
    If they are resistant one night, let them choose which night
     to do it and then stick to that plan. Be very matter-of-fact
     that this is part of being in kindergarten, plan a regular
     time, have a set place for doing homework and materials
     available that may be needed. Most of these activities are
     designed for you to do with your child and if you are
     enthusiastic, they will be too. Let your child choose which
     calendar activities he/she wishes to do. The routine of
     doing homework, just like the routines you have established
     for dinner, bath, bedtime will be comforting to your child
     and make your life easier and more sane.




Birthdays:
    We will recognize birthdays in kindergarten by pretending
     to blow out candles on our classroom cake (non-edible) and
     singing “Happy Birthday”. We will do a literacy activity for
     each birthday that is a “Birthday Interview” and results in a
     book the birthday child will bring home.
    The birthday child may bring a treat for each child on the
     day we celebrate his/her birthday (I prefer an individually
     wrapped item, but I fully understand how they can have
     their own ideas on what to bring and I can live with
     whatever they decide-keep allergy considerations in mind
     here).
    The child’s birthday will be celebrated on the day which is
     closest to his/her birthday AND/OR a workday for his/her
     parent—please let me know your preference.
    Summer Birthdays will be celebrated in May. I do not
     celebrate ‘half’ birthdays—though we have some great
     discussions about when everyone is at their ‘half’ mark.
All these activities will take place during our snack/lunch time—
   sometimes they get to choose (depends on our schedule for
   that day).
Quiet Time:
Each child will be expected to lie quietly on their towel from 1:10-
   1:40 p.m. I will rotate activities such as playing children’s
   music cd’s, story-tapes, reading a story, etc.
Each child is allowed to choose two books from our classroom
   library to look at while resting. I do not require them to sleep.
In January (possibly sooner, depending on the group), I will phase
   out our “Quiet Time” and replace it with “Bear Time” (Be
   Excited About Reading), on average, I am able to replace 1-2
   days per week until we have Bear Time all week instead of
   Quiet Time.
CHOICE BOX-DISCIPLINE METHOD
 Note the square on the back whiteboard. It is labeled “Choice
   Box” and this is one method of discipline in the classroom.
 I give one warning for behaviors that are not ‘good’ choices. If
   they do not heed the warning, they will have to write their own
   name in the choice box. They are the only ones who can write
   their name in there and they are the only ones who can erase
   their name from there.
 When they write their name in the choice box, it means they
   lose 5 minutes of their recess or choice time, whichever comes
   first. If something happens at the end of the day, it carries
   over to our morning recess the next day. If they do something
   else, they may lose another 5 minutes of their recess.
   Occasionally, children can lose their whole recess.
 If they hit, kick, bite, push—there is no warning, it is an
   instant ‘in the choice box’…..these instances are totally at my
   discretion and how I ‘see’ what is happening.
 I do operate on a very positive discipline approach, lavishing
   positives on each child frequently throughout the day.
 I do not yell or get angry, instead, I am simply very matter-of-
   fact.
 The students brainstorm rules with me the very first day. I
   simplify those to 4 rules….1. Be Safe, 2. Be Kind, 3. Be Honest,
   4. Keep Your Dear Teachers Happy….and then we all sign them
   and they are hung on the wall to remind us to make good
   choices all day. These rules cover just about any situation that
   can arise.
 Make no mistake, the power of the choice box lies in the fact
   that your child must shoulder responsibility for his/her actions
   when they write their own name in the box. But, when they
   have served their time and erased their name, the slate is
   clean and they have a fresh start….I hold no grudges.
 For the most part, my philosophy is that kindergarten is like
   Las Vegas, whatever happens in kindergarten, stays in
   kindergarten. I will not necessarily tell you about your child
   getting in the choice box, unless he/she is a frequent user.
   Even when I do tell you, it may be just to inform you that this
   has happened. Unless I tell you that there is an ongoing
   behavior that we need to work on together, I do not expect
   you to do anything more. Please trust that your child and I
   have a plan and are working on it. An important part of growing
   up is your child learning to deal with difficulties on their own.
 I also try not to overuse the “Choice Box”—I will use other
   methods, especially logical consequences---I may have someone
   sit out from an activity if they are being too goofy and can’t be
   in control. When this happens, they go to the library because
   I know they are “done for today”. There is no make-up for the
   activity missed. I treat everything we do as if it is a privilege
   to be allowed to do it.
I try to use natural, logical consequences whenever
   possible….forget your coat-you will get cold, disrespectful to a
   parent—removed from the group, etc.
   The choice box will get used quite often at first as children
   test the boundaries and how consistent I am. As we become a
   close-knit community, its use will diminish. My goal is for them
   to realize that I will do my best to keep them from getting
   their name in the Choice Box, but I will enforce it when
   necessary. Each time a child gets in the Choice Box, I spend
   time afterwards asking them what they did to get their name
   in there and what they can do to keep that from happening
   again. I talk at length about what they could have done and
   what that might look like. I do not ask children to apologize
   because apologies should come from the heart….having children
   apologize when they don’t really feel sorry creates people who
   think they can make anything right by just saying “I’m sorry”
   and turn around and repeat the action. I will encourage and
   suggest that someone else may need to hear an apology, that,
   if you accidently hurt someone, the right thing to do is to say,
   “Oh, I’m sorry that happened, I’ll try not to do that again, or
   “Wow, I didn’t mean for that to happen, sorry”—I never have a
   child ‘promise’ he won’t do something again because chances
   are, it will happen again, but ‘trying’ is doable and does not set
   them up for failure. I do require children to say, “I’ll try not
   to do that again.” Trying is doable for everyone.
Field Trips – Generally we average about one every 6 weeks. We
   will make a trip to a pumpkin farm in October, two plays,
   swimming, and a trip to the beach in June. We have some
   other exciting events that will come to us rather than us have
   to drive to them. We’ll talk in-depth about field trips at our
   Teacher Time in October.
Please give some thought to what you want children to call you—
   by your first name, using Mr. or Mrs., etc. Please think long-
   term and how you will want these children to address you as
   they approach middle school.

				
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