The Empowering Process of Reflection
by Nell Cox, Kindergarten teacher
The lightbulb moment for the Kindergarten students came during a planning discussion, and awoke a new sense of responsibility and maturity in our community of learners. "So... wait.... I think, we're going to be the big kids? Woah... this is weird for my brain!".
In Kindergarten (KG), we are currently working through two significant transitions: Kindergarten's upcoming move to grade 1, and the Early Learning Centre (ELC) students' progression to Kindergarten. Planning for the ELC transition visits has been a catalyst for the KG students to deeply and tangibly reflect on their development as learners throughout their kindergarten year.
We began sharing our feelings about the KG students' upcoming move to gr. 1, then compared this with how they had felt about transitioning to Kinder. Using the visible thinking routine 'I used to think... but now I think...', many students connected with how their feelings had improved once they had experienced kindergarten, and acknowledged that it might be the same in gr. 1.
Building on the premise that things are less scary when you know about them, we thought about how ELC might be feeling about their move. We decided to teach them about our grade by making a book 'All About Kindergarten'.
Completing a Venn diagram helped us work out exactly what was different about ELC and Kindergarten. We used these points to form the contents of our book, and worked in pairs to create the pages.
We then planned a schedule for the ELC students' visit. A key aspect would be the tour. It was very important to the KG students that they introduce ELC to all the significant places on the main campus, such as their single subject classrooms, the playground, and, of course, the toilets. They also decided to hold the tour in small groups with at least two ELC students, because 'ELC might be nervous if they are alone'.
The students also included some time for free inquiry with ELC. The question of 'who would choose' what to do during free inquiry was enthusiastically debated. When our gr. 9 buddies visit, KG gets to choose. When our gr. 3 and 4 buddies come to play, they let KG students make the choices. The students concluded that as ELC would be our younger guests, they should get to choose. The KG students were going to be 'the big kids' in this situation. For a community of people who are always 'the youngest', this was a mind-blowing and empowering revelation!
On the big day, the KG students led the ELC students with kindness and confidence. Their newly-realized status as kindergarten veterans allowed them to see themselves as knowledgeable, experienced leaders, and practice empathy and selflessness by prioritising others. For the teaching team, this experience reinforced our belief in the importance of reflection in the learning process. In reflecting on our growth and progress, we begin to properly understand and employ the new skills and knowledge we have developed. In returning to the beginning of their own kindergarten journeys, the KG students have empowered themselves for their future challenges.