My goal as a teacher is to feed children’s hunger for knowledge and spark the love of learning. To be a positive role model for a child is a wonderful experience; to observe a child conquer an obstacle is a reward itself. The strategies that I use with children are reflective of experiences I’ve had in and outside of the classroom, what I’ve been taught at The Universities I’ve attended, and from my life experiences.
My student teaching placements were enriching; working at Trinity preschool in Burlington Vermont, a Kindergarten class in St. Albans (Vermont) and ending with a semester in a combined second grade team teaching setup at Champlain Elementary School. My experiences have been vast and varied, and have provided me with countless lessons and opportunities to grow as an educator.
I think of the school system as a triangle, (ideally) connected and equal. All are linked to each other for the well being of the child, and open communication on all parts is essential. To be in a public school setting for half of my student teaching experience gave me a broad understanding of how one must work to meet the state standards through the instruction given in the classroom, and the opportunity to shape my own lesson that meet standards and capture students interest. The mentor teachers I have worked with have influenced me greatly; their methods and styles will be apart of my own.
A style that has also greatly shaped my education is the Reggio Emilia Italian approach to early child education. As believed by the teachers of Reggio Emilia, the environment that a child spends time in can be a teacher itself. The type of environment has proven to have a large impact on children’s learning; the space a student learns in should be comfortable and enriching. School should be a safe, inviting environment for children; one where they want to go.
Providing hands-on materials to reinforce skills and giving children ample time to explore thru dramatic play, art, movement, and other everyday experiences cements the concepts in their minds. A warm and inviting space will help the learning process and set a positive tone within the classroom. Through the use of healthy green plants, warm yellow lighting and large windows and evolving displayed artifacts of the children’s work, this can be achieved.
The activities that occur in a particular setting are representative of the planning for and around the children’s emerging interest, and the teachers’ accommodation of each child’s learning style. The state standards for curriculum must be met and embedded into the daily classroom activities and lessons, an area I feel I dove into and understand now more than ever. With enthusiasm and a love of teaching, the possibilities and activities that you could do are endless. I’ll know that children are gaining from experiences when I see them applying learned information to new situations.
Through documentation of students work is essential to understanding how each child best learns, their strengths and weaknesses, and how as educators we can best support them in growing. This process furthers our understanding of the concepts children are building, the theories they are constructing, and the questions that they are posing. The process of documentation invites and supports children’s efforts to understand and to be understood, by allowing them to revisit their thinking about their encounters with the physical and social world, to reconsider their theories, to reframe their questions, and to listen closely to each other as they construct meaning and relationships. This search for understanding is a complex and multifaceted experience, and I believe in the importance of supporting and rejoicing in the Cycle of Inquiry and its evolving phases.
Children are uniquely free from prejudices and have a curious, wondering mind. Their thoughts are scattered, or completely focused on one topic, and it is reflective of how much they are absorbing and learning. The world is new to them; the rules of this game called life are being taught, discovered and reinforced every day. As more research is being conducted on children and how their minds work, it is evident that the human brain is especially active during the first few years, soaking up information like a sponge. Understanding what is happening to a child’s body and brain is important to understanding the whole child and best supporting them in their learning.
The way a teacher acts and conducts a class can have a lasting negative or positive impact on a child. As educators, we must strive to make every day of schooling a positive experience, especially in the early years. My passion for early childhood education has grown and evolved through the years and prepared me for the next phase- the present!
1 Educational Leadership/ April 2003. “Reggio Emilia: New Ways…” (pg. 36)