With only a couple of weeks left before many Connecticut schools are back in session, teachers are preparing their rooms and assembling the supplies they’ll need to welcome children back to the classroom. The youngest students often require the most focus on getting comfortable with the classroom environment—after a two-month break, or for the very first time.
Simsbury first grade teacher Maryann Lindquist said that, though she does introduce academics, the focus of the first week for her students is on getting to know one another and getting accustomed to being back in the classroom.
“We work on establishing routines, including the morning meeting,” said the Latimer Lane Elementary School teacher. “Then we slowly but surely ease into academics.”
Latimer kindergarten teacher Janey Moreno agreed that routines are key for her students. “It’s a completely new experience for them, so establishing routines is very important. We have to transition them to the school environment and help them stretch their attention spans.”
To begin the transition to school the teachers send letters home to their students introducing themselves and inviting the students to visit the school the day before classes start.
“We have a 30 minute meet-and-greet so the students and parents can meet me and their classmates and see the classroom and their lockers,” said Lindquist. “That way the students are more comfortable when they come in on the first day.”
Lindquist has other obligations before school starts the week of August 24, so her room is already ready to welcome students. With reading a big part of first grade “the focal point of the room is the classroom library,” she said.
Evidence of Lindquist’s teaching philosophy is also found in her classroom’s round tables that reflect the collaborative spirit she likes to promote in the classroom.
Latimer Lane School is used for camp programs during the summer so Moreno has only recently been able to get back into her room. “I’m focusing on setting everything up and planning for the first weeks of school,” she said.
Moreno said that the transition to kindergarten is a big one and she’s hoping it goes smoothly for all of her students.
“On the first day of school, if all of my students leave happy, I’m happy,” said Lindquist.
It has always troubled me that teachers receive little recognition and certainly no recompense for the hours of classroom prep time that they put into preparing their classrooms to receive students. It is certainly a necessary undertaking for a primary-grade classroom to be ready to engage young learners. During this time of continuous teacher bashing by political leaders, it is important to get the message out – not just to the rank-and-file, but to the community at large including those same politicians and lobbying groups that like to promote the false narrative that our teachers are uncaring, ineffective, and “just showing up”.