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Three educators, one opening day
Larissa Loua, 2nd-grade ICT teacher
PS 44, Staten Island, a Positive Learning Collaborative School
A new venture. For my first nine years at PS 44, I was a self-contained special education teacher, and this is my first year in an integrated co-teaching classroom. I was really excited because it’s such a new journey for me. To have that partner was a very fun feeling. It’s something I’ve never experienced before, to share the first day with someone else.
The first circle. We read the book “First-Day Jitters,” which is told from the standpoint of a character who’s super nervous to start school, and it winds up being a teacher who’s anxious. The kids get super surprised that a teacher could feel that way! After we read the book, we met in our restorative circle. We talked about the rules of the circle, like not judging each other or talking out of turn. We all went around and said our names and described how we felt that morning. The kids did such a great job expressing their feelings, and I was so excited because they all shared something. They were all eager to talk, which is nice because I wasn’t sure how shy they were going to be.
Building a caring community. Because we’re a Positive Learning Collaborative school, last year I went through Therapeutic Crisis Intervention training and I was able to learn how to build a community of caring students, which is really important. Having restorative circles is one really positive part of it. The purpose is to build community and learn how to trust each other. Going forward, I would like to instill that in our classroom.
Positive reinforcements. After our circle, we talked about all our classroom incentives. As a class, the students can earn beans that go into a jar with different lines on it, and when the beans hit the first line, they earn a munchkin party, and then maybe it’s a movie and popcorn party. We talked about our Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports program and how students can use it to earn tickets from any staff member. So we introduced all our incentives and positive reinforcements.
Matching outfits at lunch. At lunch, the 2nd-grade teachers sat together as a whole grade. We took that minute to wind down because you know how crazy it is! We were wearing matching shirts that I had ordered in August. We’re trying to be cohesive to let the kids know that we’re all on the same team and they can trust all the teachers. They thought it was super cool that we all matched.
Looking forward to learning. The day went very well. I was tired, of course, but it was such a different feeling than normal because I had that other person supporting me and we were able to problem-solve together. I love the routines of the first day, but I’m much more excited for Monday to come. That’s when the academics kick in and when the students really start learning.