23. August 2011 12:53
Sandy Ridge Elementary kindergarten teacher Mallory Mbalia may have said it best when reflecting on the critical connection between early childhood education and the success of young learners: “Early childhood education lays the foundation for a strong, positive, motivated and successful educational career. A solid foundation is imperative to continuing success in the academic world.”
Mbalia, who has been teaching kindergarten in the Durham Public Schools (DPS) for 5 years, is a certified K-6 educator, is AIG licensed and holds a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction. She also works with UNC-TV Connecting Literacy, engaging professionals and community members on how to use educational programming effectively in the classroom and in the home.
As part of the Partnership’s Transition to Kindergarten Initiative, we were eager to connect with Mbalia to showcase the important relationship between pre-k and the public schools, and to focus on the role of collaboration in increasing kindergarten readiness. One of the goals of the TTK initiative is that transition to kindergarten experiences result in children that are ready to be successful in learning and schools that are ready to receive children. We asked Mbalia to share with us exactly how she prepares for that first day of kindergarten. Thank you Mallory!
What is the most awesome thing about kindergartners?
Their curiosity and unconditional love!!!
What is the messiest – but most worthwhile – activity for kindergartners?
Cooking with them! I cook in my classroom and connect it to books we have read. It is also an awesome science and math lesson. It gives the children a great sense of accomplishment when they create something that they can actually benefit from: Eating!
What is the very first thing you do with the students on the first day of school?
Create a sense of community and excitement. The first thing I do is make my students comfortable with me. I greet every child with a hug and a smile! Every child needs something different but the general thing I do for all is to make them laugh. We sing silly songs, play games, and make projects.
Top 10 things to prepare for the first day of school:
1. Think outside the box. I try to come up with something new and unique for each class.
2. Set the tone. I speak positivity, success, and excitement on the school year.
3. Connect with the families. We are partners now and I always create a sense of community in my classroom (It takes a village).
4. Over plan. I come up with a multitude of things for us to do so that I can choose the perfect activity the suits the class’ needs.
5. Create a soundtrack. Since I use music a lot with my students, I prepare a playlist. My students learn songs starting on Day #1.
6. Make a house a home. I set up my classroom in a way that is most conducive to learning and comfortable for my students.
7. Heart to heart. I write something special to the parents and my new students.
8. Take notes. I look for extra inspiration from colleagues and resources.
9. Set the stage. I lay out everything and have it ready to go. SO much unexpected happens the first few days that organization is key.
10. SMILE and be grateful. I have a passion for what I do! I am always thrilled, excited and thankful to start a new year! I get the chance to make a positive impact on young children’s lives. How lucky am I?
DPS kindergarten teacher Mallory Mbalia shown at the 2011 Countdown to Kindergarten event.