Welcome to 1st Grade, Friends!
I am so excited you’re here!
The following letter contains 2588 words that will begin to shape your child’s first grade year (I know–it’s a little long. Sorry!). You will want to have your family sit and read this so you can all be excited about first grade together. You should also have dancing shoes on (you’ll learn why later!) and your phone handy.
First Grade and Fabulous!
I am excited for the year ahead – how about you??
Let’s get started!
First a little bit about me. 🙂 As you read in my letter, I am going into my 16th year of teaching and every one of them has been at Robinson! I even did my student-teaching here long ago, so Robinson is definitely my home-away-from-home. In my real home–which is in St. Peters–I have a fabulous family that I love dearly. My husband, Grant, is a teacher, too, in Wentzville (isn’t that cool?). He has taught 3rd, 4th and 5th grade. We have a 9YO son, Riley, who is in 4th grade at Robinson, too. We also have a little girl named Allison–we call her Allie–who is 5 1/2. She is staring Robinson soon, and she is SUPER excited for kindergarten. We LOVE (yep, love) Disney World, and travel there often. Chicago is another one of our favorite places to travel to together. We also just like to hang out together at home (or anywhere, really) and spend time with each other. So that’s me. What about you? Can’t wait to learn more about YOUR family!
Like I said, this is my 16th year as a teacher, and every year, I begin the school year as a different person. I decide on that first day and then every day thereafter, who I am as a teacher. What is important to me. What I want to accomplish. What I want my students to see when they come to school. I choose that. I don’t let other people tell me who I will be and I don’t just be who I think other people want me to be. I read, I think, I write and then I decide.
Parents, I am excited to find out who YOUR CHILD will be!
Another wondering: What is important to you? (This is another big question and one I am really curious about so I will ask it twice.) What is important to you (and your child)?
There are lots of things that are important to me: my husband and my kids, sharing ideas, reading, writing, being able to have a conversation, making things, discovering things, sharing what I know, sleeping in, staying up late and knowing when to say sorry (and when to say nothing at all!).
As a teacher, there are a few more things that are important to me:
* YOU and YOUR CHILD!: They’re the reason I’m there, after all right? It is important for me to get to know your child (and your family!), and know them well. Not just as a learner, but as a kid, too. I want to know what they like, what they don’t like, what makes them tick. Who they are. That’s ok, right? 🙂
* Respect: If you’ve been around Robinson for longer than 5 minutes you know that respect is a HUGE part of our culture. It’s pretty much what we’re all about. I expect respect to be a huge thing in our classroom. I will respect your child, and I expect them to respect me, as well as everyone else in our community. This counts when we agree and even when we don’t. I have a saying that I learned from my good friend Mrs. Ford years ago, that is really important with this whole respect thing. It’s this: You are not the sun. In other words, the world does not revolve around you, and there are lots of other people in our classroom that have needs, wants, likes, dislikes, etc., that we need to take into account. I love your child, but I love everyone else, too! Additionally, it is SUPER important to me that we learn to love each other as people, learn to support each other, learn to cheer when our friends do well (and know that that doesn’t mean anything negative about us), learn to encourage each other when they need it, learn to understand and appreciate how we’re different as much as how we’re the same, and learn to learn together. We are in this together and none of us will be as successful alone as we can alongside each other. That’s a life lesson, not just a 1st grade lesson. 🙂
*Reading: I know–you’re thinking, “well isn’t every subject important?” And yes, to a point, that’s true. But in my opinion, one of the single most indicators of success in life (and let’s face it, enjoyment as well!) is developing a love of reading. I ask that you join me in the task of helping your child LOVE reading. I am sure they’re probably already on their way, but let’s keep it up together! Read to them as well as with them. Share your own reading with them. Read in front of them. Show them the importance of words and how you can lose yourself in the right text. HAVE FUN and help them do the same! I hope that I will do my part to encourage all of these things as well!
*Writing: Words are important. They help us to communicate and tell our stories. When you write those words, you can deepen thinking and learning, as well as better process things you heard or are still thinking about (I know this is one of the most important reasons I write!). We will write, write, write in Rm. 202, just like we will read, read, read! (And no, don’t worry about correct spelling or perfect handwriting–everyone is allowed to make mistakes, the message is the most important part!)
* Mistakes: I expect your child to make them. Yep, I said it. I want things to be hard for them. I want them to struggle. When they need more than one try or lots more practice with a concept, they’ll get it. When they need to show me what they know in a different way, then we’ll figure it out. When they need me to repeat something or explain it in another way, I’ll do it. If your child needs a big, fat challenge–watch out, they’ll get one! No, I’m not crazy, I just want them to try things that may be tricky at first. I want them (and you!) to learn to work through it when it’s hard and figure out what to do. I want them to feel the joy and success of learning something new because they persevered! Not everything will be easy here. And that’s ok. We’re in it together and I’ll help you all along the way. 🙂 THIS IS A PLACE WHERE WE WILL BE GRITTY!
* Collaboration: I love to share ideas and get ideas and try new things and even when those things fail, I know I am just one step closer to finding what does work. I love to work with other teachers to figure things out and find new solutions to old problems. But just as much as working with adults, I love to collaborate with students. I love to hear what they’re thinking, how they’re feeling about things, what they think would be the best way to learn something. It’s OUR classroom, and often your kiddos’ ideas are WAY better than mine. I know I’ll share lots of examples with your child (and you!) about how that’s happened to me over the years.
Aside from collaborating with me, though, they’ll be collaborating with each other! Your child will have lots of opportunities to share with their classmates, to give ideas, ask questions, prove reasoning and challenge each other. I expect that we will work together to help EVERYONE in our class be the best they can be. Together we’ll achieve much more than we would if we tried to do it on our own. 🙂 Reminds me of a sign I saw in Disney World at the Animal Kingdom:
I like to say that in our room, everyone is a teacher and a learner.
* Curiosity: There is no better way to learn something than to ask a question. It is DEFINITELY how I learn, and so please understand if you find me asking you (or your child) lots of questions as a means of figuring out how best to meet their needs or to connect with your family. In turn, I hope you will feel comfortable to ask me any questions you may have, and the perhaps most importantly, your child will feel comfortable to ask me–and their classmates–questions when they need to. Knowing when to ask for help is an important part of learning. 🙂 Also, WONDER is a natural part of being a kid, as well as a super important part of learning something new. WONDER is something that I will always encourage, and hopefully many things we learn together will start as someone’s wondering about the world.
* Technology : I love technology because it allows me to connect to new ideas. I like to think about what I want to do and look for tools to help me do it. I want to hear your ideas on technology and what works for you–and I ask that you be open to trying new things (that goes for BOTH you and your learner). We will be using technology in many new and exciting ways this year, so get ready! You child be blogging, using Twitter, KidBlog and other sites (like Skype to connect with other learners around the world), using iPads, working on the ActivBoard, making videos of learning and trying out many new things that we may not even know about yet. Whatever we do, though, the goal is always learning. We will use technology in meaningful ways to better create new knowledge. Excited? I know I am! PLEASE let me know what–if any apprehensions you have in this area, either for you or your student. This will be an important area for us to explore together. 🙂
* Community: Our class, our families, our school, our neighborhood, our city, our state, our country, our world. There are so many amazing people doing amazing things. I bet your child can think of ten amazing people who do amazing things right now. We need to hear those people’s stories. You (grown-ups) should be on that list. You are awesome. (Assignment one: help your child email me a List of Awesomeness about people in your family* -*family = people you love and are connected to even if they don’t happen to live in your house or share your last name). I am also hoping to better integrate your family stories into our classroom this year, as well, taking full advantage of all of the amazing things each one of us has to offer. That might mean I ask you (grown-ups) to come read to us, teach us something, help us make something, send in things, etc. We want EVERYONE to be a part of the Rm. 202 family!!
* Taking risks: I like to take risks. I hope you do too. It is scary sometimes and it fails sometimes but sometimes, more often, it is just A-MAZ-ING! Usually when you do something scary you do things you never thought you could. You surprise yourself. And then you want to do more! Someone smart once said “Fear and Excitement are shades of the same color”. Cool, huh? (Parents, this is true for you as much as it is for your kiddo!! 🙂
HANG IN THERE….You’re almost done!
OK…if you made it this far and are still with me, congratulations, you (and your kiddo) are a rock star. Stop reading right now and do some kind of victory dance. No really, go ahead. Dance. I’ll wait. Better yet, have someone video tape your dance and send it to me! I’ll even post it on our blog! (Did you see the posts where I did that with my last class? They didn’t believe that I’d do it, either. 🙂 )
So….what now? How can you best prepare for the extreme awesomeness of first grade?
- Have a great summer! Be extraordinary.
- Read something. Write something. Wonder something. This will get your learning muscles warmed up. 🙂
- If you have any questions you can always email me. Anytime. No question to big or too small.
- Think about what I said about who you want your child to be. Most importantly, remember that everyone else in our class is thinking about that too. Be gracious to those who are brave enough to set lofty goals and make the effort to become an even better version of themselves.
- THIS ONE IS FOR THE KIDDOS!: Look around your house (or your computer, maybe) for a picture of your family. I’d love to be able to decorate our room with us–pictures of all the people who help make us who we are and who encourage us to do our best. I want to be able to fill our room with love, support and smiling faces, so please bring a 3×5, 4×6 or 5X7 picture (framed or not) with you to Open House or on the first day of school. And if you don’t have one, don’t worry! We’ll take your picture!
Despite having now used more than two thousand words, there are no words to describe how excited I am about working with you next year!
Here’s To Being First Grade and Fabulous!
♥ Mrs. Bearden
PS. If you didn’t get up and dance before and are now wishing you did, there is still time to do it. Anytime. Send me that video with your best moves (we’ll check these out together once we’re all in school together. Fun, right?).
When you have had a chance to relax, digest this letter (maybe talk about it with your family or friends) and get your first grade brain tuned up, I would love for your child to write to me to introduce yourself, ask questions, maybe respond to something you read in this letter that made you think. An email, postcard or a good ‘ole letter via snail mail is great! Don’t worry–there’s still loads of time before school starts! You can send your letter to Robinson, c/o of Mrs. Bearden at 803 S. Couch Ave., Kirkwood, MO 63122.
I look forward meeting you!
Mrs. Bearden: Email–email@example.com; Phone–314-213-6100 x4214 (after August 11)
Twitter: @jbeardensclass (This is our class feed, and we will tweet here together with my supervision and instruction. It’s a great way to stay on top of what’s going on in our classroom since you don’t get to be there every day! Follow us!)
Blog: http://www.20somethingkidsand1kookyteacher.com Feel free to leave me a comment here to let me know what you thought, what you wonder, how your summer has been, etc….this is always a great place to talk to me! 🙂 Also–if you have a minute while you’re here, go ahead and subscribe to the blog feed. That way you’ll never miss anything that happens here. I add things often and you’ll want to read it all!! Just click on the button on the right side of the page and add your email address. 🙂
**Thanks to @terSonya or help with writing this post! Like I said, I love to share ideas!**