Reflections by Maggie Kincheloe, 4th Grade Class Teacher
When I “found” Waldorf education, I did not have intentions of teaching in a classroom. At the time, I was teaching outdoor education in the mountains of southern California…the forest was my classroom! However, I felt a strong pull towards the Waldorf curriculum and how the arts, movement and connection to the Earth were woven into daily lessons. The developmental intentions brought throughout the span of the curriculum was a new idea for me and these resonated deeply. My curiosity was piqued!
I decided to begin the Waldorf Teacher Training program in San Diego and was inspired by the work I saw the teachers doing there. The connections between the class teachers, their students and the parent body felt so genuine, (truly, any good teacher can cultivate this!), and yet I sensed something extra special about these relationships. I recognized, too, the growth that takes place in class teachers who dive into a different curriculum each year. From introducing letters with fairy tales in first grade to finding one’s story and geographic place in fourth, allllll the way up to revolutions and civil rights in eighth, the grades curriculum makes me excited to be a teacher. Humans are creative, intelligent beings and children should be given every opportunity to draw from their own wellspring while in school. Our curriculum does just that. These are just a few things that prompted me to pursue Waldorf class teaching.
As I prepare to bring local geography and histories to the fourth graders, I’ve learned a lot about the history and founding of our very special school. I grew up in Northeastern PA and have lived in Montgomery County for just five years now, so learning about local people and places helped me feel ever more at home here…this is what I hope my students feel this year. KWS is the second oldest Waldorf school in the United States, which I’ve always thought was notable. Many, many individuals and families contributed to the various phases and chapters of our school’s biography. Learning about our glass-domed middle school building and all the stories that took place within those walls was especially interesting! I feel part of something bigger whenever I walk through that building now.
In fourth grade, we transitioned from learning to read to…reading to learn! With this in mind, I’ve set up our classroom library to help my students choose topics of interest and books they can read independently. Inclusivity and cultural representation in our library is important to me, too. I hope each child can find their reflection in our classroom books and learn something of one other’s differences and similarities. I’m always on the lookout for new titles and I welcome suggestions! Another aim is to develop form and flow with our cursive handwriting. I’m hopeful that our new alphabet display and continued practice will help the fourth graders here. I’ve always enjoyed seeing the care that early-grades teachers put into their classroom’s ABCs, as well!
I’m looking forward to spending the school year in our beautiful, new classroom with the fourth graders!