Lower School kindergarten teacher Jessica Banks arrived at St. Margaret’s Early Childhood School all ready for the full day ahead—a backpack, a sack lunch, and a water bottle filled to the top.
She may have looked a little out of place sitting among 4- and 5-year-old Early School students during storytime, or while playing in the Outdoor Classroom. Yet her day amongst the P4 Tartans served a number of important purposes.
“I was hoping to not only learn the daily routine of an Early School student, but to introduce myself to incoming kindergartners joining the Lower School next year,” Ms. Banks said.
Ms. Banks and fellow kindergarten teachers Mara Balak and Colleen Beshk were among five Lower School teachers who recently spent a day shadowing an Early Childhood School student moving up to kindergarten next school year. Also doing a shadow day were Lower School K-1 science teacher Erin Moore and kindergarten co-teacher Ashley Tyus.
have long been a part of the school’s Innovation Strategy, with many school leaders utilizing the practice to go deeper in empathizing with students and understanding their needs and challenges. Lower School Principal Jennifer Blount and assistant principal Maile Bellosi have both shadowed a Lower School student this year, and other leaders including Head of School Will Moseley have shadowed students as well.
For the kindergarten educators, the day was fully immersive. They met their shadow student at drop-off, participating as a scholar, eating lunch with the children, going to specials and having conversations with Early Childhood teachers during the students’ rest time.
The experience was enlightening. The teachers were able to compare and contrast the structure and pace of the P4 school day against their own schedule in kindergarten, which developed a better understanding of the adjustment students make as they move up to the Lower School.
Mrs. Moore shadowed a P4 student for a day, saying “I was hoping to get a feel for a typical day in a P4 class, to see where students are coming from before they get to the Lower School.
“It was an eye-opening experience and I believe it will help us teachers help the students with their transition,” she said.
Ms. Banks, Ms. Balak and Mrs. Beshk did their Shadow Days in the same week, allowing for P4 students to get to know each kindergarten teacher ahead of their move to the Lower School this fall.
“Moving forward as a teacher, I bring with me an awareness of the importance of ensuring a smooth transition from Early School to Lower School,” Ms. Banks said. “As I’m proudly getting ready to send my kindergartners off to grade 1, which is bittersweet, I’m very much looking forward to starting a new school year with a new class of young learners.
“It was special to me to experience where my future kindergartners are coming from.”