Google+ bakers and astronauts: 07.08

29 July 2008

I just started using this space, but I'm already neglecting it. I mentioned before that we are moving to Belgium; we are at the Oregon coast for a week, en route to our new home. I plan to be much more active in the month of August, when I start my new job and get all silly and excited and nerdy about preschool!

Towards the end of the summer, we used an outdoor paint that I mixed up to "paint" the outdoor walls of the preschool. The kids loved using the bold colors, and talked about practicing to be "real painters" when they grow up.

The program was only a three hour morning preschool, and I think there were restrictions with that short amount of time. Also, children were signed up for weeks that worked for their family's schedule, so they came and went throughout the summer. As much as I understood the children's interests, it was hard to support them with so many gaps in time. I am looking forward to a longer day and a consistent group of students in this coming year; it will really give us the opportunity to dig deeper, reflect, and explore.

17 July 2008

An Outing

I have been running a summer preschool for the past seven weeks, and it has been such a learning experience for me. I am playing the role of educator, director, accountant, mentor, nurse, and more. These photographs are from a trip to the park at the beginning of July, when the Seattle weather finally became summery.

A trip to the park (two blocks away) includes the gross motor activities offered by the equipment and the green spaces, but if we are staying for a while, it has to accommodate children who are tired, hot, uninterested, or looking for some quiet time. This meant bubbles, books, crayons and paper, and card games on this particular trip.

Going to the park is a special experience, and I like to try and make it more than just gross motor time. Cooperative games are usually a part of the day, as well as a picnic snack. I would like to help the children expand on the experience even more, though, the next time we go to the park. For that, it would be important for me to watch and note what interests the children as they play independently at the park, and to listen more carefully to and record what they are saying.

Also, I have never talked with the class about the experience as a group afterwards. What would it be like to reflect on the trip? The experiences? The activities? Does the park interest a group of the children deeply enough to explore the topic more deeply?

11 July 2008

An Introduction

I spent four years studying early childhood education as a college undergraduate. I student taught, I wrote papers, I read articles, and I observed young children in educational settings.

The approach that we discussed by name in college was constructivism, and I understood the principles as I learned them though essays and discussions. Yet there was no way to apply this approach in my student teaching classrooms, where constructivism was not practiced. So, I taught the way that the Head Start and Public School teachers whose classrooms I worked in taught.

When I set out to find my first teaching job in my new home, three months out of college, I had a stack of resumes and a portfolio that my professors helped me put together, showcasing lesson plans and photographs of me working with children. I drove my Volvo station wagon around Seattle, pulling over every time I saw "preschool" on a sign. I took the first job that I was offered.

The school was "Reggio-Inspired", and I had never heard of Reggio Emilia at that time. The school was open from 7 am until 6 pm, with children from infancy through five attending, and I was hired as a preschool teacher. Much of my job, however, was daycare. Although the program was "inspired" by this foreign philosophy, it was not quite valued enough as to direct what we as teachers did. I did learn valuable lessons about the Reggio Approach through books I borrowed from the director and conversations I had with my fellow teachers. This job sparked my interest in creative, project based, child centered education.

Four years later, I have changed jobs every year, looking for my niche in my profession. Nothing has proven quite right, and I embark on another teaching and learning journey in two weeks, when I arrive in Brussels for my new job as a Pre-K teacher at an international school. I am inspired by the schools of Reggio Emilia, emergent curriculum, constructivism, multiple intelligences, the project approach, and passionate, knowledgeable early childhood professionals.

The world's view of Early Childhood Education is changing rapidly, and there are many sources of inspiration for educators to draw from. My varied experiences, that I will no doubt mention in future writing, has allowed me to better understand what I am looking for, and I am working myself to make my classroom the ideal environment.

I hope this will be a place for preschool teachers who think outside of the box to meet and share and inspire each other.

02 July 2008

This is a place for early childhood professionals first and foremost. I use my research and experience as a tool for learning more about working with young children in ways that help nurture creativity, open-mindedness, and exploration.
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