This series focuses on how Faculty bring their passions to their teaching and how their approach to teaching and learning helps students achieve their personal best. We spend the day in the Kindergarten classroom with Julia Rachinsky-Wood.
At King, we seek to develop lifelong learners. What is the key to inspiring students?
Building teacher/student relationships based on trust, encouragement, and support. This inspires students to be confident learners. Confident learners become experienced learners. Experienced learners develop lifelong learning strategies and a love of learning!
What does King's approach to teaching and learning mean to you?
In my Kindergarten classroom, I embrace every moment as a teachable moment and in doing so I focus on the most meaningful ways for each student to learn. My objective is to know each student's interests, inventiveness, and most importantly learning styles, recognizing that they are all ever-changing. It is my goal to provide my students with problem solving strategies that will assist them mathematically and phonetically as well as support them as they establish and sustain meaningful relationships with peers as well as others in local and global communities. This is all done in an effort to guide them to be independent, inquisitive learners who are confident and willing to accept academic challenges.
How do your personal passions influence your teaching? And how do you help students articulate their perspectives and develop their 'voice'?
While earning my masters degree I focused on sustainability, primarily the sustainability of relationships, which are critical in Kindergarten and throughout life. Throughout any given day, there are moments when a child may say or do something that may upset another child. The important life lesson in these situations is the value of friendships and the ability to work through our differences. This is done as each child shares their thoughts and feelings with the other. They become active listeners; making eye contact, taking responsibility for their own actions, expressing an understanding of feelings and promising not to repeat the behavior.
What do you hope your young students take away from your class each year?
As an educator, a mom (of grown children) and a grandmother, I instill the importance of the "don't sweat the small stuff" philosophy! My Kindergarten classroom is a place where students learn to embrace this philosophy; they make good choices, use kindness and respect, and are problem-solvers who always make room for a friend. This creates an environment for all to develop as individual learners who are safe, strong, and free.
This environment, along with the problem-solving strategies I utilize in my teaching, will guide them as they grow. Several years back, while setting up my classroom for a new school year. A former student (then a middle school student) excitedly came to visit me and said, "I remember Kindergarten" and I responded by asking, "What do you remember most?" Her response, "don't sweat the small stuff and always make room for a friend."
How do you create a personal and meaningful learning experience for your students?
I have created a child-centered classroom environment where the focus is on my students, their individual learning styles, and the Kindergarten curriculum. Students approach learning in personalized ways so each of them can achieve success while at the same time they are encouraged to "step out of the box" and accept a challenge.