Tuesday, November 20, 2007

This I know. . . . .

The jump from an in-home therapist for children with Autism back to a classroom teacher has been an interesting one. I’ve begun to master the delicate dance of doing what the Admin team wants me to do and what is really feasible in one day. Sometimes it’s the same and sometimes it’s drastically different. I’ve learned what teachers on the verge of burn out look like—there are definitely a few where I work. I know that I don’t want to be there and I vow that I will no longer remain in the classroom if I begin to look how those teachers do.

There are a few things that are not working in my room at this point. Calendar time and pretty much most large group activities are challenging for this group. I'm going to be making some major changes. The first is the complete elimination of calender time. It never did quite make sense to me and after a presentation at The NAEYC Conference, I decided that I was going to make the big leap. After all, it really does not make sense to my students and it just seems like a poor excuse for disguising something pretty meaningless to three-year-olds as learning. Instead, I’m going to change my morning circle time to the morning meeting approach, which is a part of the responsive classroom. I got rid of the calendar completely on the 19th and I’ll start the morning meeting aspect on Monday the 26th officially, although I’ll do a trial run tomorrow to see how it goes.

I continue to favor PROCESS art versus the use of projects that all need to look like something. I continue to favor learning being relevant and MEANINGFUL for the children. Not just some random topic my curriculum or administrators say I need to work on this week. Something like dinosaurs. Yes, kids like dinosaurs. But, when are they really going to SEE one? When will they TOUCH one (and I do NOT mean a photocopied picture here, either?!)? If they can't experience in a way that is relevant then I'm not going to bother teaching it. If I can't bring it them or them to it, the topic isn't happening in my room (thank you, Lisa Murphy--you have me an ah-ha!).

The big "thing" I'm learning? Well, I'm learning to have a more specific sense of self as a teacher. I'm starting to want to mentor my staff, not just supervise them (I supervise one TA and a cook). I'm working hard to learn from every day and reflect on my practices in the classroom. Bev Bos (I think) once said something to the extent of, "if this were one of your student's last days on earth, how would he or she remember his or her time with you?" I want make sure that the children who come to my room find joy in school and learning. I want to help parents understand this too.

Every day is an adventure and I continue to learn and grow with every adventure!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

All things story telling

Story telling is VERY important for the young child. Not only does oral story telling help a child develop his or her imagination, it helps develop vocabulary, turn taking, eye-contact, listening skills, and many other skills needed for your child or student to be ready for kindergarten. I'm no real expert in this area, though, so if you really need convincing, take a look here.

Oral Story Telling and Early Childhood
Power of the Story
Turner Learning
Fairy Tales
Children's Songs

An Awesome time at NAEYC!!!

Well, I just returned from the NAEYC Conference. What an awesome experience. I have never been in one place with so many people who care about young children and how young children learn best. I saw many unbelievable presentations and I will link to as many as I can.

The first presentation that I feel compelled to talk about was one by Lisa Murphy, the Ooey Gooey Lady. The presentation that I specifically saw can be found here. If you haven't heard of her, take time to read her stuff. If you are not on board with process art yet (and you SHOULD be), she's got the info that WILL convince you and your administrators that young children REALLY do learn best through play and experience. This is something that I have always believed and it's awesome to have a nationally known presenter with materials and info supporting that belief.

The next presentation that I would like to highlight was given by Bev Bos. Again, this is another early childhood professional that you should know. She is not only entertaining to listen to, she practices what she preaches. She is the director of her own school and she still makes time to run a classroom!!!!! The talk that I was listening to was about the power of story telling. It was wonderful. The handouts from that talk are not posted on Bev's web site yet, but they will be there soon. I'll post them as soon as they are up.

I also heard Dr. Pamela Schiller speak on appropriate math practices for early childhood education. Needless to say, after her talk, I will be slowly fading out counting with the calender and the use of the calender in general during circle time. She was very entertaining and I learned a considerable amount during her presentation.

Finally, I saw Cheri Sheridan, a speaker affiliated with Dr. Becky Bailey, of Conscious Discipline and Kenny Woods present some great songs that will help with daily preschool routines. Unfortunately, the CD is not ready yet, but it will be soon!!!!

A few other things. . . .
My classroom will be participating in a traveling teddy bear. Click here to see where he is at now!