#41 – Teacher Insights with Kaia Tomokiyo: Creativity and Choice Starting in Kindergarten

Unpacking Education May 26, 2021 26 min

Welcome back to Teacher Insights at Tech Talk For Teachers. With this series, we celebrate teachers and the important role you play in our lives and community. We learn about what is happening in virtual, face-to-face, and hybrid classrooms across the country—what is working and what’s challenging.

This week, we meet with Kaia Tomokiyo, a Kindergarten teacher from Renton Unified School District in Renton, Washington. A national board certified teacher with 10 years’ experience, Kaia engages students  in their learning process through creativity, choice, and voice. While many might believe providing choice and voice to kindergartners would be challenging, Kaia develops trusting relationships with students to help them become independent learners. She shares how technology has helped students grow and find new avenues to express their creativity with platforms such as Seesaw and tools like the kid-friendly iPad.

Join our Digital Learning Specialists as they talk with Kaia to learn strategies to provide choice for our youngest learners as they begin the quest to build their identities. We explore how to create experiences students enjoy, to nurture their strengths, while also encouraging challenge in a safe environment to empower learners. Discover how to model reflection to help our students learn about their own learning process and the power of feedback from our youngest learners to improve our teaching practice.

Paul Beckermann
PreK-12 Digital Learning Specialist
Rena Clark
Digital Learning Coach
Pamela Beckermann
PreK-12 Digital Learning Specialist

Our job as teachers is not to ‘prepare’ kids for something; our job is to help kids learn to prepare themselves for anything.

A.J. Juliani, author and founder of Adaptable Learning


The following resources are available on AVID Open Access to explore this topic in more depth:

Teachers Need Teachers

Inspiration comes in many forms. For teachers, we often look to one another for support, empathy, validation, and understanding. This week, with Kaia Tomokiyo, we explore how teachers can learn to release control to our youngest learners to empower them to discover their learning process—whether it is assigning a student helper every day or providing more flexibility in the schedule to support the development of critical thinking and self-management skills.

Teacher Insights

From investigating the best and worst lessons that have been taught to discussion about pedagogy and techniques, we talk with teachers to learn how their practice has changed during pandemic teaching—their challenges, their successes, and their wonderings for the future. Tune in to hear more about one teacher’s response to the important questions below:

  1. In what ways do you provide, or have you provided, student choice and voice in your classroom?
  2. How have you been able to provide creativity and choice during in-person and remote learning?
  3. Why do you think providing student choice is important for even the youngest learners?
  4. When creating opportunities for creativity and choice, how do you include and/or use student voice?
  5. When providing students with the opportunity to make choices, we know that it’s important to empower students with the skills to do so. What types of skills do you support your students with, so they are able to make choices? How might those skills go beyond kindergarten?
  6. If a teacher was just starting to provide opportunities for their students to have choices and/or be creative, what advice would you have for them?
  7. How has providing students with opportunities for choice and creativity impacted their learning? Do you have specific examples or stories that you can share with us?