Finishing the term well in ES1…

Its hard to believe that 11 weeks of learning and discovery have now come to an end. On Monday morning after ES1 Navy led the whole school in prayer, our principal encouraged the students to “Finish the term well!” I paused to ponder on how it actually began and the journey that has unfolded thus far. When we began this term there were so many new components for ES1:

  1. New staff
  2. New students and families
  3. New buildings

The increase inĀ  numbers required a new approach to everything we did from playing and learning within the classroom to outside in the playground. Last year we finished the year with 29 ES1 students and 2 staff, while this year we began with 86 ES1 students and 4 staff…so what happened?

We have become a very comprehensive team of 4 dedicated Early Childhood teachers who seek to meet the needs of the individual students through observations, play based learning and programs that are constantly changing to reflect the ever changing skills and abilities of the students we work with. We begin our day with purposeful playing that enables the students to take control and drive their own learning. So far in ES1 we have a Police Station, a Post Office and a Doctor’s Surgery across the 2 learning spaces that students explore and interact with. On any given morning all 86 students are free to move around the 3 ES1 spaces (2 classrooms and outside COLA) to follow their interests and build new friendships across the entire stage. This has been a gradual change over the term and the students are really enjoying the freedom of choice. Many of the students like to begin the morning being very active outside playing with balls, building with the large blocks or even painting on the concrete with water. Other students have a favourite space inside whether that be the writing table, role play area or even the play dough table.

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So life at school has continued to evolve and change….as a staff of 4 we meet for “professional learning” once a week with our stage leaders who support us every step of the way in our own professional journey of discovery. We have also connected with the staff from our early learning centre, CELC, to look at how to have a natural progression of tracking students growth and learning through play from the early years through to ES1 and beyond (Pre-post school where students will have 15 years of learning and growing). Other resources that we have been provided with have included articles to read and thenĀ  unpack and discuss as a team. From here we then meet to share our own observations of students, evaluate the program and then work on where to next for learning and programming. Did I happen to mention that we also meet once a week on a Monday for whole school staff meetings and professional learning……yes we are busy but oh so lucky to have colleagues who are nurturing, supportive and collaborative! Oh, I also forgot to add we had Peer Review for ES1 at the end of this term where we presented 2 KLA’s (Creative Arts and Religious Education programs) within a group of 4 schools to show how we meet NESA outcomes.

Now for the new buildings

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Last year we had 3 learning spaces, now at the end of term 1 we still have these learning spaces plus 3 levels in the NEW HUB…on level 1 is Stage 1 and soon to be Year 7 (space opens in the beginning of Term 2); level 2 you will find Stage 2 and the staff room; level 3 is Stage 3…..we remain very happy in the existing ES1 spaces as we eagerly await the new School of Foundations building (the footings and foundations have begun this term). In saying this we have been working on managing our time and routines to assist the ES1 students move from our buildings through to the HUB where they are picked up in the afternoon. We are slowly improving and the students are learning to manage themselves and take responsibility for their own belongings.

So whats the next step in our ever growing plan…….streamlining routines and implementing effective transition times……but I will elaborate more in my next Blog!!

So did we “Finish well”?……I believe we did and each student has shown growth and change over the last 11 weeks…reflect, evaluate and move forward…..