Monday, February 21, 2011

Archive to Reflection topic: Social Justice and Cultural Sensitivity, Feb 21

Wow, can I just take a minute and say how impressed I am with the kinderchatters? Judging by tonight's conversation, most of us did our homework, including the "recommended readings". We are truly a bunch of kinder-geeks. I even threw in a test question -- did any of you spot it?! Thanks to all of you for being such a crew of dedicated professionals. It seems we are winning over new fans every week.

Here is the archive for those who missed (and were missed).

Happy week-off to the lucky ones, happy Tuesday to the rest!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Gearing up

**Update Jan 28, 2013: While this post was written nearly 2 years ago, for another topic, tonight's #kinderchat about guns in schools is potentially even more sensitive and controversial. We ask you to read the following, and enter into tonight's chat with the same mindset of respect.**

Hello Kinderchatters!
So, I am kind of going freelance on this, since Heidi is on a mini-vacation, but I trust that if she disagrees, she will speak up, and we will modify accordingly. Tomorrow's kinderchat topic is: Social Justice and Cultural Sensitivity in the Kindergarten Classroom.  I'm excited about it, as I think these are SUCH important things for us to be constantly considering, contemplating, discussing. They are also, however, topics that are potentially sensitive, and therefore potentially controversial. On top of that, the freeways of Social Justice! Cultural Sensitivity! Anti-Bias! can be surprisingly efficient routes to the twisty alleyways of Religion! Immigration! Race relations! Gender Roles! Gay rights! Mainstreaming of special needs populations! And, while all of those things can make fascinating and thought--provoking discussions (I do love a good soapbox!), they can also get VERY personal, VERY quickly. As I mentioned last week, kindergarten teachers are certainly a passionate bunch, and I think we need to be conscious of harnessing our passions in a professional direction.

With that being said, I propose the following: 

As we begin this Monday's conversation, let us all assume that:

  1. Everyone participating in the chat supports the importance of teaching and modelling social justice and cultural sensitivity; that it is not a question of "whether" to teach these things, but a question of "how to best do so."
  2. Everyone participating is committed to creating a classroom and program that allow all children and families to feel welcome, safe, included, and special; that this is also a "how" question, not a "whether" question.
  3. Everyone participating is capable of placing the needs of children and families above their own personal beliefs and opinions.
  4. Opinions, understandings, and policies regarding social justice and cultural sensitivity vary widely by generation and geography (among a long list of other factors that influence our practices and our policies).
  5. No teacher, school, board, district, city, or country, is handling these issues perfectly.
  6. Everyone participating has a genuine desire to improve their own practice and policy.
  7. Everyone participating is willing to answer questions regarding their classroom practices and policies.
  8. Everyone participating is doing their very best to ask questions in an open and respectful manner.
  9. In spite of the limitations of 140-character text communication, the default "tone of voice" in the chat is warm, curious, genuine, and respectful.
How do those sound? Can we agree on those for this week? Could they maybe be the foundation of something we agree to for every week? Have I forgotten anything really important? Kinderchat is, above all else, a community, so please use the comments to help fill in anything I missed.

If you have the time, I ask you to please read (or at least skim) the introduction to NAEYC's guide to Anti-Bias Curriculum, as it will provide a framework for our discussion.  For more reading, you can also check out:

And a final thought for this week -- In light of the events surrounding Natalie Monroe's suspension from work due to the content of her blog, please, PLEASE be cognizant of what you say online. Our kinderchats are archived. The archives are read by colleagues all over the world. When you use the hashtag, you represent our community.

Okay, enough preaching from me for now. Go forth and enjoy your Sunday afternoon! I look forward to seeing all of you tomorrow, 9 pm, EST.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Archive to Tech Topic: Integrating Social Media in the Kindergarten Classroom

Holy Violet Valentines, tonight's chat was a whirlwind. Several weeks ago, when Heidi and I planned this topic, our vision was a conversation about the nuts and bolts of working social media into regular classroom routines. As seems to happen so often, it turned into far more than we envisioned. Of course, it should not surprise us that kindergarten teachers are passionate advocates for the decisions we have made about using social media with our students. Let's be honest, most of us are passionate about the exact brand of pencil crayons we use...

It is certainly not unusual to encounter debate around the use of technology, and even more so, social media, with our youngest students. In my experience, those debates usually follow a pattern: those opposed to social media with young children do not use it in their own lives, and those in favour of its use are frequent users, themselves. Tonight's debates, however, were unique in that: by the very definition of #kinderchat, EVERYONE present uses and sees the value of social media for themselves. There is no one in the crowd shrieking: "Twitter is silly and self-indulgent!!!" We are all Twitter users. We all participate in a chat for like-minded professionals. And yet, the range of opinions on using SM with students was tremendous.

I often tell my students: "When something is hard, that is when you're learning the most." It is easy and pleasant to chat away an hour with people whose opinions mirror mine exactly. Tonight's chat was challenging to many of us, and I think that means... we learned.

Here is the archive. Happy reading.

Coming up next week: Put your thinking caps on as we reflect on: Social Justice and Cultural Sensitivity.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Resources Wiki

Hi Everyone,
Unleashing the #kinderchat resources wiki. We hope this serves the purpose to help you go back to find the links to the many resources everyone shares each week and saves you some time combing through the archives. (YES! Finally got @india0309 Fine Motor checklist shared!)

I am just learning the ways of the wiki and have found so many wonderful examples of teachers work. Please feel free as always to share links on twitter and in chats and consider adding them to the wiki. We are trying to build an online reference library to help assist Kindergarten and Early Childhood Educators with their work.

Want to convince an administrator to allow more time for play? Help create and build the #kinderchat collaborative library!

wiki wiki wiki
(also will not even mention the pure coincidence that wikis come from Hawaii, where we will all one day convene in tshirts with phoques and ducks on them in a massive worldwide kinderchat f2f conference)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Color Coding

Hi Everyone,
Just want to explain the color coding system for topics:

Violet: Technology Talk
Indigo: Professional Life
Blue: Special Topic
Green: Play 
Yellow: Classroom Life
Orange: Academic Subjects
Red: Reflection and Assessment

We hope this insures we cover a range of topics and creates balance to our discussions as well as prevent last minute scurries on our parts or weekly voting polls on yours. We pull topics from #kinderchat conversations and are always happy to add requests to the queue. Thanks again for your wonderful contributions and for being the awesome professionals you are each day.
Double rainbow! All the way!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Archive to Professional Life Topic: Teacher Absences and Planning for Subs, Feb 7

So, tonight's chat was nothing if not exciting. Our (conveniently timed to coincide with flu season) topic was Teacher Absences and Planning for Subs. There was a lot of useful and thoughtful discussion around the topic, but we also had some new participants, who sort of put our kindergarten courtesy to the test...

Now that the dust has cleared, and I have done a little digging, I really believe it was all a case of sarcasm not translating well in print, especially not in a "room" full of people who don't necessarily know each well. As somewhat of a smartass myself (sarcasm is, after all, my third language), I have certainly had times when a tweet came off sounding far sharper than I intended. That said...  I think that kindergarten teachers are a class act. In spite of a whole scuffle over some (what I am assuming was) well-meant mockery, it seems we also really impressed some ed-tech-twitter-types who had not previously explored our little (but growing) community. It seems we are not only "well-organized" and "impressive," but we are also "nice."

Well-organized, impressive, and nice? Yup, that sounds like a perfect description of nearly every kindergarten teacher I know.

And, if you were one of our "interlopers" this evening, and you are reading this: please come back and see us again next Monday. I promise we will learn to appreciate your humour!

And whoops, before I forget:  Here is the archive!

Sweet dreams to all, and happy 100th day to those who are celebrating this week.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Archive to Special Topic on Bullying, Jan 31

Sorry for the delay on this, folks. I had some technical difficulties with the archive site we use, and the transcript is still missing the first half of the chat. I'll keep working on it, I promise.

Even incomplete, Monday's chat is a true testament to the compassion, commitment, and creativity of everyone who contributes to kinderchat. Our students are lucky children, indeed.

Click here for the archive!

Coming up next (Feb 7th): Flu season sucks extra hard for Kindergarten teachers. Join us as we discuss teacher absences and being prepared for substitute teachers.

Whether it is snowing, cycloning, or chinooking in your corner of the world, have a wonderful weekend, friends.