While the changes from last year to this year are perhaps a bit more noticeable to the second graders than to the students in some of our younger classes, they have been happy and eager to learn since the very first day. And with the calm and positivity displayed by their teachers, and the deliberate approach and thoughtfulness to making it a safe place to learn, the second-graders have hit the ground running.
The second-grader’s day is full of learning interspersed with a series of check-ins and moments of reflection. When they enter their classroom each morning, they stop first at the “how are you feeling today?” Velcro board, a valuable tool that increases social-emotional learning and helps students develop self-regulation skills. This is followed by daily Chapel where they enjoy practicing mindfulness and a morning meeting where they practice socially distant greetings and activities that help them to become great communicators! Academics then take center stage as the students partake in math workshops, specials, literacy block, and Writer’s Workshop. Lunch, recess, and additional outdoor time helps them to break up the day.
When you think about what might be the favorite part of the second-graders’ year so far, recess or time spent with friends might come to mind first. However, according to Ms. Clark, the students were most excited about the grand opening of the classroom library. She reports, “The students look forward to “book shopping” for good-fit books each Monday. We worked hard to build our independent reading stamina to 20 minutes per day, and the students beg for more time to read, even when it’s time to clean up and get ready for lunch!” Even Ms. Clark herself points to early literacy as one of the highlights of teaching second grade, saying “One of the things I am most passionate about as an educator is early literacy. Students spend their first grade year finessing their reading skills and developing their ability to learn to read. In second grade, we’re ready to go! It’s delightful to watch students transition from learning to read to the very beginning stages of reading to learn.”
If you were to walk into the second grade classrooms, you would see a community of joyful, productive learners. The classrooms are adaptable to the various developmental needs of second-graders, and provide a sense of routine while encouraging students to build their independence. The students can be found listening to quiet and contemplative “brain music” during Writers Workshop, or working in small groups during centers. From the “leader of the day” leading the morning message during morning meeting, to beginning closing circle at the end of the day with reporting on acts of kindness seen throughout the day, the second-graders care for their classroom environment and take ownership of their learning.