Sunday, August 5, 2018

Farewell First, Hello K-2 SELF!

Hello out there! It's Alisha with her ANNUAL blog post! 
For real, my track record is WEAKSAUCE for the last couple of years!
Let's change that!

Summer has been wonderful for catching up on all of YOUR posts, yet I've failed to even write one of my own. That's changing today, friends! I'm officially training my brain to start back to school dreaming & scheming. We've got about 10 days left until we have to report back, but most of us are already spending time at school getting our spaces ready. My hubby & I were sweating our HEADS off at the school this evening as he did some heavy-lifting for me. (What in the world would I do without him? Insert all the heart-eyes here!) It's so true...August is like one long Sunday night for teachers. 

From the title of this post, you may be wondering if I'm leaving first grade, and the answer is yes...although not without a little sadness & nostalgia. I was so fortunate to work with an incredible team, and my goodness, I love first grade and the little loves that come along with it, but I'm moving on to something that really ignites my passion! 

I'll be teaching social & emotional learning to all of our district's kindergarten, first, and second grade students! About 450 in all! 

Each class will see me weekly as I'll be in the specials rotation. I'm proud of my district for seeing that there was a dire need for targeted social-emotional skills instruction & I'm thrilled to have been the one chosen to do it!
Am I excited? Oh, am I ever!
Am I nervous? I'd be lying if I said I wasn't. 
I've never NOT had a classroom of my own. 20-something little bodies who rely on me to guide them through their first grade year. Who see me every day. Who grow a little bit every day and at the end of the year you marvel at their tremendous progress. The relationships a teacher builds with their classroom community is such a strong bond. I think that might be what I'm going to miss the most. 

In my new position, I'll be seeing ALL of the kids in the school, but for only 40 minutes a week. 
So I have a question for you specials teachers out there...what are your best tips for building relationships with kids you don't see every day? Of course, I'll have other opportunities throughout the day to interact with them, such as arrival, dismissal, lunch, and recess duties, but I wonder how this relationship-building will be different. 
What are the best ways to make the time I spend with them significant?

It's a new challenge & one that I'm looking forward to figuring out! 
As far as instructional materials, we'll be using the Second Step Curriculum! 

Out of many that we reviewed, this one seemed to best fit the needs of our population. It has a focus on self-regulation, which is so important, especially for the youngest kids. As they progress through the program, as they learn skills of self-regulation, empathy, and recognizing their own feelings, they'll also learn problem-solving strategies. This is so important! I can't wait to roll it all out!
Our school is also starting PAX (Good Behavior Game) this year! We're moving in a great direction and I'm so hopeful that we're going to see positive change across the board. Are you familiar with either of these programs?

I even got to help NAME this new class--so cool! It will be called SELF (Social Emotional Learning with Friends). I suppose my kiddos will be SELFies! 

Last year my district restructured our buildings and we went from 3 separate elementary buildings to a single K-2 building and a 3-5 building. I love that now, from the beginning, we're all working together! Space in my building is limited, so my classroom space will be on the STAGE!
Oh, the possibilities!

Once I finish setting it all up (hopefully by the end of the week--I have an adventure coming up next weekend!) I'll post a preview of my space. It's so cool! Because of the unique layout, I didn't want tables & chairs. I have a vision of the space & it's very relaxed & fun! I got a beautiful, very "zen" carpet and lots of flexible seating options. Exercise balls, wiggle seats, scoop rockers, and small stools. I have clipboards & lapdesks for any paper-pencil work to be done, and even had a successful Donor's Choose project that was fully funded over the summer! It will bring lots of sensory materials (fidgets, weighted lap panels, more books!) to our classroom space. I also have an incredible library of varied texts to accompany my weekly lessons. I have a vision to eventually start a social-emotional library of books & sensory materials that teachers can borrow to help their students. 

I'm so grateful for this opportunity and although it's a little scary, I'm SO excited to get started!
That is, after these last 10 blissful days of our break are over.
When do you head back to school?