What do your walls say?

What Do Your Walls Say to

Your Students and Families?

  • What values do they speak?
  • Do the items posted on the walls continue to enhance the children’s learning or have they simply become visual noise?

You decorated your room at the beginning of the year but…

  • How do you make on-going decisions of what to put on your walls?
  • How do you decide the image you want to continue to portray through your room environment?
  • How are you demonstrating your values for how students learn through the displays on your walls?
  • What image of the child are you projecting through your environment and the items that you make an intentional choice to hang and leave hanging on the walls?

As discussed in the last blog post regarding intentionally designed environments, it is critical that we examine the environment as a place for students and it should be a reflection of them.

Patricia Tarr in the article, Consider the Walls,  talks about how commercially made posters, etc. that we hang for educational purposes may actually be limiting children’s sense of who they truly are and true capabilities and stifles their imagination and creativity. She states,

“So too does the mass of commercial stereotyped images silence the actual lived experiences of those individuals  learning together. An overload of commercial materials leaves little room  for work created by the children—another kind of silencing.”  The challenge for early childhood educators is to think beyond decorating to consider how walls can be used effectively as part of an educational environment. In Reggio Emilia the walls display documentation panels of projects that children are engaged in. These become the basis of ongoing research and dialogue between the children, teachers, and families. Panels of photos, artifacts, and text make “learning visible” to participants and to outsiders (Rinaldi 2001).”

Think carefully about what pictures, children’s work, or photos you place on the walls. Students absorb a lot from their environment; so, we want to use the space for demonstrating both the learning and the process toward the learning. When determining what you are going to place on the walls, ponder

  • is the item is important to your current educational goals and objectives  (is it an old objective and now can be removed from the walls? can a picture be taken of an old anchor chart and placed in 8×10 binder for reference as needed? can anchor charts be hung on pants hangers and hung in a corner of the room for reference as needed?)
  • how can the items be created by the students instead of commercially or by the teacher (co-creating items helps students to have ownership and therefore, they are more likely to look at and use the resource often)
  • does it demonstrate beauty and is it aesthetically pleasing (note: it does not have to be “pinterest” worthy perfect- if it is created or co-created by the students and meets their needs as a resource for a learning objective- then it is beautiful to them)

Follow Up on Teaching Deep Breathing

first pageLast week we talked about why it is important to teach students how to breathe deeply and different techniques to use.

Research tells us that children usually need to take at least 5 deep breaths and children who have experienced trauma may need to take 7-10 deep breaths.

It is helpful to give students a visual to count the breaths they are counting. Not only does this help them keep track of the number of breaths but also gives them a cognitive skill to focus on to move their thinking from flight-freeze-fight to frontal lobe, rational thinking.

Students can count on their fingers or use visuals in which they move a piece from one area to another. Deep Breathing free resource. The resource includes a board for both 5 and 7 deep breaths.

Cozy Corner/ Safe Spot Strategies

Designing a Cozy Corner (or Safe Spot):

A cozy corner or safe spot is a place in the classroom in which students can relax, calm their minds and bodies, and gather themselves back together to be ready to learn. It is a place in the classroom that is calming and that has a low sensory load. The use of the cozy corner must be taught at times when students are in zone of being ready to learn. We cannot teach students during times of dysregulated behaviors. Therefore, practice when to use the safe spot and what to do there before emotional dysregulation occurs.  For specific ideas of teaching the use of a cozy corner/safe spot, see Cozy Corner Feeling Board and Strategies.Journey into Early Childhood Cozy Corner Strategies and How to Set Up the Corner Effectively

Key Considerations:

1. Choose an area of the classroom that is out of the mainstream of traffic but that is also visible by the teacher at all times

2. Choose an area that feels cozy (some children like a tighter feel in order to calm down) but also make sure that the area has more than one exit (children who have experienced trauma will not be able to calm down in an area in which they feel trapped)

3. Soft furniture- add some softness to the area even if it is just a couple of pillows.

4. Be mindful of the colors that you use (this is true for the entire classroom as well.) Natural colors led to a sense of calm. Remove the bright primary colors- use them only to help a learning concept pop out.Deep Breath Free Download journeyintoearlychildhood.com

5. Items to add: sensory bottles (see journeyintoearlychildhood.com for directions), fidget toys and a couple of books on emotions or friendship, a Take Deep Breaths Board (free download), Teaching Deep Breathing to Calm the Mind and Body, and the Cozy Corner Feeling Board and Strategies).

6. Be mindful of aromas as they are often triggers for children who have experienced trauma, but you can try a sachet with lavender since it is calming scent.

Variety of Ways to Teach Deep Breathing journeyintoearlychildhood.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. The Cozy Corner or Safe Spot needs to feel safe! It is not a time-out or removal from classroom activities. It is a spot to de-stress and work on getting the mind and body calm and happy or at least, content.

7. Ask the student if they would like to take a break in the cozy corner or safe spot. Do not leave them there alone- make sure to go to them to follow-up and teach (not tell) the needed social skill or strategy.

8. Gift the student with your calm. Do not show anger, frustration, or crankiness. Model slow, easy breathing and calm, even voice.

9. Ask first before you touch a student.

10. Follow up with role-playing, modeling and LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of guided practice of appropriate social skills.

11. Teach deep breathing with cue cards (flower/candle, owl, bunny, bear, etc. as listed in the document or STAR breathing from Conscious Discipline).   Be mindful of colors (natural is best)- remove bright primary colors.

12. Again- this is a spot to feel safe- not to be reprimanded or punished. It is a place to talk through behaviors and learn/practice skills and strategies needed. Think connection- not correction. Think – “How can I teach the skill needed?”

 

Greeting Students Each and Every Day

TOP 10 Reasons Why to Greet Students at the Door  Each and Every Morning

Daily Greetings- The Importance of Greeting Your Students Each Day journeyintoearlychildhood.com
• Provides a smile and a reassurance that the teacher is glad the student came to school today, which sets the tone for a positive day
• Promotes a strong relationship between the teacher and student
Enhances a positive classroom climate
• Provides a moment of connection when you greet them by name- young children love to hear their name – let’s use them in positive statements
• Assists children with letting go of issues that may have occurred on the bus or at home- they are being welcomed to a new start to the day
• Promotes a sense of belonging and trust that school is a safe place
• Provides social and emotional support
• Demonstrates and models of how to greet others, how to use kind words, and how to be respectful
• Provides a proactive, preventive technique to reduce challenging behaviors
• Starts the day for the teacher with LOTS of smiles and positive interactions!

Tips:

  • Greetings must be delivered with sincerity and genuine care for the students. If you rush through greetings, the students will not feel valued or respected which may lead to challenging behavior.
  • Use the student’s names
  • Provide options that include touching as well as include no touching to meet the needs of all students
  • Use eye contact

FREE DOWNLOAD journeyintoearlychildhood.com

Click here for two versions of greetings

Click here for additional versions of greetings

 

(note: If you send me an email stating that you have signed up to receive my blog each week, I will send you the seven different versions for free.)

Student Jobs to Assist with Clean Up After Free Choice Play Centers

  • Let the students take control over clean up…Jobs for Clean Up Time journeyintoearlychildhood.com
    • “Shift Manager” This student provides a 5, 3 and 1-minute warning prior to clean up.      (can also signal other transitions throughout the day)
      • Following the 5-minute warning, students are not allowed to retrieve any new items or move centers. They need to remain in the center in which they are currently for the last 5 minutes of play.
    • “Quality Control Inspector” This student inspects all areas and cleans up any remaining items.
    • “Floor Sanitation Monitor” This student picks up scraps from the floor and/or reminds students to throw away their scraps throughout the day, especially after play centers.
    • “Celebration Coach” This student provides an award to another student (a gold slip, a high five, a fist bump) for being the most efficient, yet respectful, during clean up. (respectful clean up = cleaning up quickly while still treating materials and friends with respect, using gentle hands and kind words) This student can also be responsible for finding and celebrating respectful behavior throughout the day.

CLICK HERE: Classroom Jobs that Support Free Choice Play Center Clean Up

  • clean up job cards journeyintoearlychildhood.com
  • Do you have one or two students that clean up time is overstimulating?
    • Allow the student to be a “Clean Up Supervisor.” As soon as he/she cleans up 5-10 items (depending on student’s needs) in the center in which he/she was playing, they get a clipboard with all the students’ names and travels from center to center to find 5 children who are experts at cleaning up for the day. The “Supervisor” can reward those five with a High Five or Fist Bump at the end of clean up time or announce the names for the whole class to give a silent cheer.
    • Allow the student to complete another job that consists of heavy pressure or heavy lifting such as taking a stack of books to a neighbor teacher or wiping all tables with a spray bottle of water and a rag (or just a wet rag).

Intentionally Designed Environments

Pondering about where to start with intentionally designing your environment for the start of the new school year can at times seem overwhelming.

One key aspect to think about that is critical all year but especially at the beginning of the year is making the space belong to the students – not to the teacher! The classroom space should reflect the learners.

At the beginning of year, building the space for the learners would include designing for the importance of building a community of  learners- of creating the environment to assist with being a school family.

IDEAS:

  • Add pictures of each child’s family to a family bulletin board or have them in frames in the dramatic play area.
  • Create identity panel,  with photo on one side and self -portrait on the other side.
  • Create a chandelier or a piece of art work together as a class that is displayed in the room.
  • Allows pairs or small groups of students to work together on art projects to build friendships and have a piece in the classroom that they can continue to discuss and show to others.

What are some ways that you build the classroom to reflect the students and build your classroom community?