When my GT Coordinator gives tours of our schools to potential applicants, I have to laugh at how she decribes me. I taught both her daughters, so she knows my teaching style well. She tells people-"Miss Trayers is always doing weird activities with her students-they are painting under the tables to be like Michelangelo or standing on their desks to get an idea of another perspective--weird". I prefer the term "unconventional" and yes, I take that as a compliment! :)
I know I'm an unusual breed of Kindergarten teacher. For example, I hate celebrating Valentine's Day in the classroom. I know not everyone agrees with my decision-but we don't do the typical card exchange you will find in many classrooms. In my experience, the kiddos really didn't get anything out of that. The parents would prepare all the cards-even signing their child's name to all of them. Or my favorite just send them in with an unopened box expecting me to show them how to ready their cards. We would take way too long passing out all our cards (the past few years I have not had less than 25 students and as many times as I would ask that they not put names to address them to anyone specific-that request would often go unheard as well). And then all I would hear would be complaints from the students. She has more than me. I didn't get one with the lollipop. Why does she have that big one and I don't. Ungratefulness really breaks my heart.
So the past few years I have adopted a different approach. We have as an at-home project for that week to make a Valentine for a local nursing home that we have adopted. They made some really creative ones.
And then all week during their writing workstations, they are making cards for their friends. They are writing a real message on it that has meaning. I know several parents already told me they are bringing cards anyway, but a majority of what they receive will mean something to them because someone took the time to acknowledge them. Unconventional, but I still think fun and definitely more authentic.