Dear Hawk Families,

Pumpkins, and skeletons, and costumes, oh my!

You sure can feel autumn in the air, and the excitement of Halloween around the corner!  This is the time of year that teachers love to celebrate with children, but it definitely does make for a lot of wiggly friends at school ~ wink!   So we dance, and we sing, and we celebrate, and we do lots of fall art projects to channel the children’s energy.  Too, we really depend on our classroom routines.  They are the glue that very much keeps us together.

Predictability is an important part of building an environment of trust and safety, the bones of building a community.  Establishing predictable routines help children know what to expect and it helps them feel confident and capable in the group. The Hawks have come, in just a short time, to really depend on our daily routines and the consistency of them.  They are the bones of our community that allow us to walk off the beaten path (i.e. Project work) when the time comes, or moments of spontaneous inspiration arise.  Too, now that the children are older, there are routines that may differ from last year. I would love to share with you my favorite daily routine, a special piece of our morning together.

After cleaning up from our free play time each morning, the Hawks gather in a circle on our classroom rug.  For some, it is the first time they are seeing each other, having played in different areas.  Each Hawk finds their name card that has been placed on the rug, and eagerly sits down.  There is usually a hush to start in the circle, as we take a deep breath together and find some stillness in our bodies.  We then share a greeting around the circle.  Everyone is welcome!  It may be a handshake and a “Good Morning!”, a good morning song, or a heartbeat where we hold hands and pass along a gentle squeeze (this is our favorite!).  After our greeting, we count how many friends are at school.  We think about who is here and who is not here.  Too, in the days and weeks ahead we will ask ourselves such questions as, “Hmmm, if we have 11 Hawks in class when everyone is here, but three are absent today, how many do we have all together?”  Or, “If all 11 Hawks are here, and 0 are absent, how many Hawks do we have today?”  There are so many wonderful ways to grow our math muscles during Circle Time!  Talking about math muscles, a favorite piece of our Circle Time routine is looking at our calendar and figuring out the date.  It seemed very overwhelming to the children early on to see all those numbers and boxes, but you can now find them studying the calendar closely each day, counting the numbers (we love the big ones life 28 and 29!), and recording special happenings like birthdays and holidays.  At the moment, we are so excited to count how many days until Halloween!  Also, our time together in a circle is a time of sharing, a time to be heard and to listen to one another, to ask questions and to make comments.  It’s wonderful to see how their attention and focus has grown in just some weeks, as they have settled in.

Another routine that the Hawks take very, very seriously is their weekly jobs.  Wow, they have stepped up to take charge of and real ownership in and around their classroom space.  Whether it be setting up for snack, putting out our book baskets (the Librarian), being the Line Leader or Caboose, the Pinch Helper (helps when we are in a pinch!), or Snack Host and table washer, they are humming with responsibility.  Too, not a day goes by where you don’t hear one Hawk say to another, “Do you need some help doing your job?” “I can help you!” “Let’s do it together!”
Yes, our daily routines help make for a strong team.  They are our bedrock as things move and change on a daily basis ~ curriculum, seasons, growth and development, etc.  Too, there are a great many important skills imbedded in them that are necessary for the coming years ~ social skills, math and literacy skills, the skills of attentiveness, listening and engaging, responsibility, and many, many more.  Most importantly, our circle is a place where all feel welcome, safe, even warm and cozy.
On another precious note, about two weeks ago, the Hawks gathered together to consider a very important question ~ What are your hopes and dreams for the school year?  This was prompted by the question ~ Why do we come to school?  I remember how the Hawks put on their very serious faces and their thinking caps.  Hmmm, why do we go to school?  Several shared how we come to play, to be with friends, and to learn.  We talked some about what the word learning means.  Then, once again, I asked the children what they hope to do and learn this school year?  This question helps students to get excited about learning, and to make personal connections to what they will learn in school.  It invites them to name goals and intentions and shows them that school is a safe place, a place where they are important, and they can look forward to an engaging and fun year of learning.

Well, I must say, the Hawks took this question very, very seriously.  After a moments time, hands shot up….

Georgia: I hope to ride a unicorn!
Will: I hope to be a zookeeper.
Charlotte: I hope to have a butterfly land on my finger.
William:  I hope to be a builder.
Remi: I hope to see a rainbow with my friends, and make a rainbow zebra.
Viraaj: I hope to ride on a firetruck (with my family)!
Betsy: I hope to be a butterfly-keeper!
Jack: I hope to be a planter.
Brooklyn: I hope to be happy!
Petey: I hope to learn about elephants.
Kathryn: I hope to ride on a unicorn, with a pink flower!

Declaring their hopes for the year, they went off to draw a picture of themselves doing it.  Then we turned on music, we danced, and celebrated our hopes and dreams!  Many of the children have already begun to make them come true!

Several days later, we met again.  This time we talked about how, if our hopes are going to come true, we need to make sure we have a safe classroom.  Together, we generated several agreements that we would do our best to keep across the year.  The children, as a team, came up with these three agreements….

1. Everyone is welcome to play and learn!  Be kind.
2. Be careful and caring with our school materials.
3. Be the boss of your body (take responsibility for your body)!









The children pledged to keep these ‘ways of being’ with a promise and a painted handprint right on our very own community class tree.  Over the past days, and throughout the year, we will be practicing our agreements to get them into our bones, our blood, and our consciousness.  I have already heard the children using them.  Just the other day on the roof, one child said to another, “But everyone is welcome.  You can’t say you can’t play!”

Hopefully, these skills of community-building and awareness will stay with the children as they grow.  Too, may they bring them into their future classrooms, and one day into their workplaces!
For now, we’ll keep practicing!

Have a good weekend ~ a peaceful and restful one.

Ms. Linnea