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Nicole Toliver & Michelle Reyes, Kindergarten lead teachers

Kindergarten is a foundational year. We want students to feel seen, heard, valued, and loved when they come to St. Paul’s. Our main goal in kindergarten is to help students build a positive relationship with their school and their learning. In other words, our number one goal is for kindergarteners to LOVE school! 

Our most powerful tools for achieving this goal are our People Power Skills. These are 26 different skills that help students take better care of themselves and our community, and are the central guideposts for our Social Emotional Learning curriculum. We spend time at the beginning of the year focussing on the People Power Skill, "New Connections", which is about so much more than just how to make new friends. New Connections is also about recognizing that each of us has value and something to contribute to the community. We use language like “Kindergarten Family” rather than class to reinforce the idea that we are one big family, and family takes care of each other.

We differentiate our instruction to meet students “where they are” and have many conversations about how everyone learns in different ways. We talk about being flexible with our learning and what it means to have a “growth mindset.” One way that we build a growth mindset is by using what we call, “the power of yet.” Kindergarteners know the frustration of feeling like they aren’t good at something. With that in mind, we engage in conversations about how we aren’t good at most things right away, and how it takes time, practice and patience to learn and get better at new things. We encourage students to add the word “yet” to statements like, “I’m not good at this… YET!” or “I don’t know how to do this… YET!” 

When “the power of yet” just isn’t enough to shake off our frustrations, we turn to our Kindergarten Family for encouragement. We model how to be cheerleaders for each other and for ourselves by using positive affirmations like, “I am smart, I am blessed, I am enough, I can do anything!” We make “cheerleader” a class job. This student is our go-to person when someone in our community is having a hard time, or feels unsure of themselves.

We end our days with the class cheer: “We’ve come to the end of another GLORIOUS day in kindergarten! And we’re so lucky because we get to do it all again tomorrow!” This not only builds class morale and shows unity, but also shows that regardless of any ups and downs we may have had throughout the day, each day is glorious simply because we get to be together.