I SPY, I SIGH
This week I had the fortunate experience of stepping into Pam Roque’s P.S. 142 Kindergarten classroom during Choice Time. The children all seemed to be totally engaged with their activities and with each other. Pam was the sole adult in her room. She had no teaching assistant and no student teacher to assist her. Yet there was no chaos. Children were not constantly interrupting her for help. Quite the contrary, I noticed so many instances of children helping each other. I wonder how much modeling Pam did during the school year to lead her young charges to this sophisticated behavior?
It’s April, a few days before the spring break and the class is at the winding down phase of their Beautiful Stuff project. I could see all sorts of found objects that the children brought to school, being used throughout the classroom.
At one table, two boys were making funny face collages.
Spread out on the carpet to dry was a fancy princess collage made of sparkly ribbons and a broken bracelet for a mouth.
At another table, two children were using pieces of wood that they painted to make little houses.
On the floor near the block center, two girls were cutting, pasting, giggling and singing. When I asked them what they were working on they told me that they were making a mermaid because they were best friends and they both LOVED mermaids!
I looked over at the block area and was totally intrigued with the thoughtful concentration of the children who were at work. Their placement of the various trinkets all around their buildings was particularly interesting.
I didn’t want to interrupt their work and so I asked Pam if she could explain what was taking place. Pam told me that she had shared many “I Spy” books with the class during the course of this project because they seemed to be such a good match with all of the objects that children brought in to school. The children loved the books and they came up with an inventive way of reinterpreting the concept of the books in the Block Building Center.
Builders took trays of the Beautiful Stuff and brought it to the block center. When they finished their construction, they peppered their structure with different objects.
To bring this idea to another level, Pam created a “Beautiful Stuff I Spy” template and the builders filled it out with drawings and words. Then they invited other children to come in and go on an “I Spy” hunt, checking off whatever they could find until they finished the paper!
How did Pam manage to support all of this independence and creativity? I’m going to spend more time in her room, perhaps videotaping so that I can learn more about her strategies and share them with other new kindergarten teachers. Right off the bat, though, there are some professional practices that are obvious to me.
Pam speaks with a soft, but firm, voice. At meetings and at centers, she is a really good listener, encouraging children to follow suit. Her classroom is neat and well organized. Children know just where everything belongs and they also know how to find things on their own. There are no behavior charts, gold stars or other artificial rewards. The rewards children receive are in their new friendships and in the pleasure of spending each day in a peaceful and loving classroom.
When I’m in her room, I breathe a sigh of pleasure, knowing that here is a place where children are being intellectually challenged and emotionally respected.
I love this! I love that girls and boys work together in the block area. That children are working together to make art projects is the sign of a teacher who creates a welcoming and nurturing atmosphere. I would love to sit in on her group sessions. I know how much the students in my library loved the “I Spy” books. I would not have had the creativity to use them as a teaching tool and inspiration. Hope to see more of this wonderful classroom. Thank you!
Congratulations Pam- what a true KINDERGARTEN you have created here!! The children seem to be doing all the deep learning that Kindergarteners are capable of given the chance. And you, Pam , have given them the time, materials, motivation, and lots of scaffolding to allow and encourage the children to create this amazing work. I would love to visit your class as I am very eager to visit K’s where the work is true to the learner, not imposed from above. I’d also be curious to know how much time children have during their day to do this kind of meaningful work.
You are an inspiration.
Thank you for letting me spy through your eyes. LOVE to see this in action and I can only imagine the kids creating and figuring out how to stump their fellow classmates. And then to have others actually come and look. Community at it’s best. Thanks for sharing. This gives me hope!
I love that there is no behavioural reward system in Pam’s classroom, no stickers!! And that as you say, the true reward comes from the children being able to express themselves fully, so inspiring! I would like to talk to Pam, or link up with her on Twitter (if she is on?), and learn more about her approach, which is oh so sadly needed here in UK schools, where punishment/reward system dominates our school culture.
It’s so sad to hear about the UK schools. When I was a new teacher, the British Infant Schools were our models of perfection!
I’ll pass your contact on to Pam and ask her to get in touch with you.