Feature

Taking Time To Learn: Learning and Doing Together

June Chang-Vollans

A mid-career teacher updates her knowledge.

Junior kindergarten is a different world from any other grade. When I first started teaching at the junior kindergarten level nine years ago, I was shocked both by the demands of welcoming all these children attending school for the first time and by my own personal reactions to this new level. Having taught over half of the previous 10 years at the Junior level, I was really struggling to figure out my new role. My first year in junior kindergarten included physical injuries, such as being bitten on my face by a panic-stricken child who had never been left anywhere without mommy!

This memory was swirling in my head as I was signing in last year during the first day at the ETFO’s Kindergarten Summer Institute: Learning and Doing Together. I kept thinking that if I had been able to experience this institute years ago, it would have made a great difference in helping to propel me into my new way of thinking about my role as a teacher.

I first learned about the Summer Institute from a posting on our school board’s kindergarten curriculum online conference. Year after year, I have seen interesting conferences advertised, but because they were out of town during the school week, and/or because they conflicted with my responsibilities to my own family, I was unable to attend. It was very frustrating not to be able to pursue these opportunities. When I saw that the 2006 Summer Institute was going to be held in Ottawa,  and that it was only $25, I made it my first planned activity for the summer! I was excited about attending for several reasons. I enjoy both connecting with former colleagues and making new connections. I was also very interested in hearing how the ministry’s newly revised (2006) Kindergarten Program document was going to be presented.

So often I have connected via board email with another kindergarten teacher, shared ideas, resources and encouragement, and hoped to some day meet her or him in person. The institute gave me a chance to meet up with a few “new but old” friends, and I finally got to put faces to the wonderful souls I had come to know through email. They all brought with them different experiences and lots of excitement.

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