GTMS Life > Blog April 6, 2022

Ms. Michelle: March 2022

Goodbye March, Hello April! Welcome back from Spring Break! This past month the children have been very busy and focused. Some of the highlights have been using nails and a hammer to nail different shapes onto a cork board, grating broken crayons, building with a variety of tools and materials, and using the climber in […]

Goodbye March, Hello April!

Welcome back from Spring Break! This past month the children have been very busy and focused. Some of the highlights have been using nails and a hammer to nail different shapes onto a cork board, grating broken crayons, building with a variety of tools and materials, and using the climber in the Primary Recess area of our indoor movement space.

Teacher Emily Shares!

Hello everybody!

I wanted to write a little about how special this job is to me. Every day, at some point in the day, I find myself thinking about what I can improve and how I can be a better teacher the next day, and something I think about a lot is consent. Consent is so important in a toddler classroom. A culture of consent helps to establish trust and respect, it helps children navigate their budding relationships with their peers, it helps build a sense of self-worth (I am a person who deserves to choose what happens with my body.), and hopefully, it helps to build a foundation for a lifelong healthy relationship with consent. 

The rules of consent are simple. I will not touch your body or your things without your permission. We establish the basics of consent in the classroom with phrases like:

Hands on your own body!

This is so-and-so’s body. 

This is so-and-so’s work. Only so-and-so may touch!

Space, please! 

I need space.

Consent goes both ways. We gently remind our friends that teachers deserve respect for their bodies, too.

Did you want to give me a hug? Remember to ask first! “May I have a hug?”

Things quickly become more complicated when it comes to consent in a toddler room. How do you practice consent with someone who does not have words? Some of our younger friends do not have many words to communicate with, and all of our friends may struggle to access their newly acquired language whenever emotions start to rise. What can we, as teachers, do?

  • Move slowly. I try to move my body very slowly, in order to build in time for the child to react.
  • Watch carefully. I pay attention to the child’s eyes and body language for clues about their feelings.
  • Wait. Give as much time as possible for the child to evaluate the situation and self-regulate. Recently someone was crawling under their lunch table. Instead of pulling them out, I crouched down, made eye contact, and said, “Hello!” The child stopped, smiled at me, and slowly went back to their seat. Any opportunity to let a child exercise their autonomy is a gift!
  • Announce your intentions. Whenever possible, I say what I am going to do before I do it. For example, “I’m going to take your hand and bring you back to your table.”
  • React! Perhaps I touch someone in a way that they don’t like. They might flinch, or scream! Instead of ignoring their reaction and imposing my will on theirs, I will stop and narrate my reaction. “You did NOT like that! I made you so angry. You do NOT want a new shirt.” Etc. Then try to move forward in a way that makes sense to everyone.

No one is perfect, though. Consent in the classroom is a process, and as much as we emphasize consent, we emphasize that teachers are fallible humans. We blunder, we apologize, and we consider aloud what we might do better next time. 

I want to end with a snapshot of life in our classroom where a culture of consent was evident. I remember sitting with one child who was crying because they did not want a diaper change. Another child walked by, noticing their friend. I suggested, “Maybe so-and-so would like a hug.” The second child opened their arms and looked inquisitively at the first. The first child kept crying. The second child took a very small step forward, with arms patiently open. A moment passed. The first child clasped the second in a bear hug and, after a moment, stopped crying.

It may seem simple, but this gesture had a lot of nuance to it! I’m so proud of your children for all the work and love that they’ve put into our classroom community. I will keep working hard to make sure that they feel as strong and fantastic as I know they are!

PS

I recently had the pleasure of going to Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee and Books in Germantown, and they have the most INCREDIBLE selection of children’s books, including toddler-friendly books on consent, race, and gender, which I loved. 

A Special Visit from A Kindergartener

How wonderful it is to be able to invite a “K” into our classroom, and extra special for me as I was one of his toddler teachers. This friend spent the morning with us and the children were enamored with him. He gave them lessons in what “K work” looks like, how to finger knit, and Grace & Courtesy lessons during Circle. At Recess, they were excited to run and play ball him. They were enamored! It is such a special encounter because the toddlers see themselves in the older child, and dream about what they will be capable of in the future.

We will be inviting him back, or another K, to read to the children at Circle. Stay tuned!

Auction Sneak Peek

The children each selected one or two colors of acrylic paint (some only wanted their one color). This month the children finished painting with their individual colors that they chose, and I used those paintings to cut out various marine life: fish, eels, squid, stingray, etc. The entire group collaborated on the background of our painting, which they used sponges to scrub on carnation pink and a little yellow. They also each used these colors to on watercolor paper, that I am using to cut small fish to fill in the gaps. After the pink paint dried, the children collaborated to scrub on sea green paint.

Below are just a few photos and a super big sneak peek for how it is beginning to come together. It is so exciting to see their faces and for them to recognize their colors. I so appreciate how motivated they were to paint on their own, but also how they worked together on the background and the filler fish. What is missing from the photos is how they helped to clean up the paint afterwards.

Get your Auction tickets here: Auction Tickets.

*Some of the individual photos are from earlier in the year

Upcoming Dates:

  • Tuesday, April 12th: Parent Education Workshop: Parenting and Social Justice with Wanjiku F.M. Njoroge, MD via Zoom
  • Friday, April 15th: Professional Development for staff. There will be no nap this day as dismissal will be at 11:45 am for everyone

Thank you so much!

I will send you off with a video from a friend who serenades the classroom everyday before lunch. Enjoy!

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