From Classroom to School Home

The kids have been hard at working creating and making as they are inclined to do at this age. Our classroom is gradually transforming from just a classroom to our home away from home. You might have noticed when you first visited our classroom it was a bit empty. It probably seemed incomplete. At least that is what I was going for. I intentionally leave space for the kids to make the classroom theirs. Literally and figuratively the classroom is not complete until each child arrives. For more on how bare walls show kids their are important click here.

Here are some photos of how the kids have contributed so far.

Our Hopes and Dreams display. You helped with this too!

Name collages…

And self portraits!

Our room is becoming colorful, beautiful, though provoking, and whimsical, just like the little people who live here for a little while.

Who We Are

On our front wall, big and bold, are our Beulah Ralph Expectations. These words describe who we strive to be. Surrounding these word are our self portraits. 

This display is a powerful expression of ourselves as individuals and ourselves as members of our class and school. 

Each of us is unique but we also have common ground. Both our differences and similarities connect us together.

Making The Room Our Room

The kids have been using their creative skills to help decorate and label our room. The spaces is slowly becoming more colorful and beautiful.

We made book box labels.

We made table names I inspired by the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See. Here is the blue horse table.

We made torn paper name collages. 

We are hanging up friends and family pictures as the kids share them.

 I love to see the kids’ personalities shining through in their work!

What’s in a Name?

A name is a powerful thing. A name defines you as an individual, a person, unique and wholly your own. Names help you connect and build relationships with others. Names are so important to me in my role as a teacher. Learning each child’s name, nick names and proper pronunciation is one of my first tasks. We greet each other by name each morning and learn many academic concepts in the context of our own names.

My name is Layla Cunningham. I introduce myself to the children as Layla…just Layla. I prefer the children call me Layla for several reasons. For me it is a way to communicate that our classroom is a collaboration, learning and teaching are something we all do, and that no one person is higher than anyone else. I am our leader, responsible and trustworthy, but not the most important person in the room. Going by my first name literally and symbolically takes me off the pedestal.

Of course, I don’t mind being called Miss Layla, or Mrs. Cunningham. Those are my names too. But I invite you, and your child to call me Layla. In doing so, I invite you all to join me on this journey of learning as partners and equals.

Growth Portfolios

This week we have been busy making portfolios documenting our growth in name writing, number writing, and writing. It has been so fun for the kids to have tangible evidence that hard work pays off and results in learning and progress. The children will be sharing their portfolios on Thursday with their 3rd grade buddies during our Portfolio Party. They will bring them home Friday. I hope you can find a few moments to sit down with your child, look through their portfolios with them, and reflect and celebrate all their progress. Their growth this year had been remarkable, magical, and a testament to each child’s immeasurable potential.

Here are a few photos of our little learners hard at work making their portfolios and being kind of amazed by their own work.

Teacher Inspiration 

“Each child we serve, in turn, learns to serve others. Each child whose life we touch in turn touches others. Ours is not work to be accomplished in a lifetime but across lifetimes”  

Excerpt From: McTamaney, Catherine. “The Tao Of Montessori.” iUniverse, 1969-12-31. iBooks. 

Twinkle, Twinkle, little star. What a wonderful person you are.

Each morning we sing a special song which is a variation of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”. This remix version comes from Concious Discipline. The intention behind the song is to build personal connection between people which is essential to the development of empathy.

To sing the song we get a partner and sit facing them. We look into their eyes and sing these words.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star.

What a wonderful person you are.

Big bright eyes, nice round cheeks.

A wonderful person from head to feet

Twinkle, twinkle, little star.

What a wonderful person you are.

At the body part words, the children gently, kindly, and ever so softly touch their partner on/near that part.

It tugs your heart strings to watch how gentle they touch and how sweetly they sing. They have the brightest most genuine smiles. 

For a moment they are completely immersed in kind, respectful interaction with a fellow human being. 


Everything I need to know I teach in Kindergarten

You know those posters or memes that say “everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten”? I have recently realized everything I need to know I teach in kindergarten. 

Many of my own little situations and struggles can simply be solved by the things I teach the kids as their little situations and struggles arise. 

  In meetings with my colleagues I wonder how much I should speak up about and how much I should let go, I can ask myself just like I ask the kids, “how can you be helpful?”

When schedules change or unexpected events arise, I can remind myself, just like I remind the children, “sometimes the day is different but being a safe, respectful, learner always stays the same.”  

When I feel upset or outraged by situations in my life, I can ask myself, just like I ask the kids, “are you going to talk to them or are you going to ignore it?”

When I make a mistake, I can tell myself, just like I remind the kids, “that’s ok, you can try again”.

I’m so thankful for all those teachable moments that remind us all that kindness, curiosity, laughter, and learning are what connect and empower us all. And that we are all equally amazing and fallible. And we are all trying our best.

Everything I need to know, I teach, or I discover in kindergarten.