kindergartenteaching

from the life of a teacher

week 5 July 27, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — amaliskas1234 @ 12:51 pm

For this assignment I was asked to imagine an experiencing one or more  “isms” in my personal life and how it would affect myself and my work with young children and their families. I chose to use an experience I have recently had that fits these requirements instead of imagining one.

In the past year I faced aspects of racism and able-ism from both family members and friends. My husband and I were in the process of adopting our first child. Through this journey we were very open with others that we were adopting and we were not specifying an ethnicity. Further, we were not against adopting a child with certain medical diagnosis or needs. Through our journey we encountered remarks by people who did not agree with us adopting outside of our own race or accepting certain medical conditions. There were people (both close to heart and mere strangers) who were very vocal about their opinions on our adoption choices. As a consequence to the racism and able-ism I experienced I became devastated. Emotionally I was hurt that when I had trouble having my own child people would think other children were not “worth” being adopted. Physically, I felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders. I felt like one of the happiest times in my life was becoming a controversial time.

These feelings did carry over into my work with children and families within my care. It caused my mind to be heavy instead of fully focusing on the children as I should have been for that time. Further, I became more emotional when dealing with some situations of drugs and neglect with one of my students. I found myself spending more one on one time focused on this child. I also found I had more patience with this child. I had a much harder time collaborating and forming a partnership with this child’s family because of my own struggles of adoption and my desire to care for their child as he deserved to be cared for. I know I did not work as nicely as I should have during this time because of my experiences. The prejudice I experienced from others ironically led to me being prejudice towards this particular family and other families that I felt were not caring for their child as I felt they should have been. Thus, the partnerships I had with families suffered during this time.

This experience showed me how easily ones prejudice or stereotypes against you can lead to you forming prejudice and stereotypes against others. It made me reflect on how I was treating others and whether or not I was judging people and their actions when I should not have been!

 

Week 3: Observing communication July 13, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — amaliskas1234 @ 2:54 pm

The observation I conducted was at a park in my neighborhood. While there were a couple of different families at the park I focused my attention on a mom and her son who appeared to be around the age of 4. The mom was sitting on a bench with a book in hand while her son played on the playground directly in front of her. The mom would occasionally glance up and watch her son playing before returning to reading her book.

The following is an account of what I noticed and learned during my time of observation:

The little boy appeared to be very outgoing jumping from child to child to interact with on the playground. He seemed to make friends easily. There were several times during the observation that the little boy yelled out to his mother asking her to watch him.  The mom would look up and watch him. She reply with praise telling him things like “way to go, that’s awesome buddy, look at you” and so on before returning to read her book. A few times he would run over to the bench and push on his mom’s leg and say “look, look, look, look!” His mom would usually look up after a few times of him saying this and talk briefly with him about what he was trying to bring to her attention. I noticed during their conversations that the mom would always look into her sons eyes when they spoke to one another. Further, she would ask him questions about what he was showing her. She would ask him where he found it, what he was going to do with it, and did he think he could do anything else with it. At one point another mom joined the mom on the bench while her child played on the playground. The two mom’s became engaged in a conversation.  During their conversation the little boy ran up to his mom and would once again start pushing on her legs. It appeared that the mom became a little irritated with her son doing this but did not acknowledge him. Instead she kept talking with the other mom. At one point she snapped at her son and said “Go play or were going home!” The little boy responded by stomping off to the playground once more.

Throughout my learning this week I have gained insights on how to facilitate affirming communication with young children. Rainer Dangei and Durden (2010) discuss the importance of adults engaging in meaningful conversations that will foster strategic thinking for children. I can see the mother do this in her strategic questioning of what her son had found. She question him to foster conversation and to help him be a more strategic thinker.  The interactions that took place between mother and child were done in a small group that allowed each of them to focus on one another. One thing that could have been done to make the communication more affirming and effective would be for the mom to have been more attentive to the child even when other adults were around. Although she did a really good job of always look her son in the eye when speaking with him she failed to seem interested at other points of their interaction. Instead of snapping at him for continuing to run into her leg over and over she could have paused her conversation from the adult and acknowledged him. By not listening to what he was trying to say effective communication was lost.

After observing the communication interactions between mom and son I believe that the child’s feelings were affected in two ways. At times the mom was very attentive to the little boy in which she would ask him questions about things he would bring to show her whether they were a leaf, a tiny bug, or a stick he was pretending to be a snake. He seemed so proud of himself when interacting with her in these times. Yet, when she was busy interacting with the other mom I feel that he was not impacted in such a positive way. Instead, he seemed frustrated that his mom would not make time to hear what he was trying to tell her. In this instance you could tell he felt defeated as he stomped away from his mom having not been able to win her attention. Perhaps it sent him the message that she was not interested in what he was doing when other adults were around.

Sitting back and observing the interactions occurring between mother and son I found that it was easy to judge the types of interactions taking place. Yet, I also realized that I see myself in multiple aspects of the observation I conducted this week. At times I am extremely attentive to the children in my classroom and engaging with them in thought provoking conversations. Yet, at other times I am distracted by the events occurring within my classroom that I too become impatient with the sweet children beckoning my attention. It is very easy to get caught up in the things occurring in the room around me that I miss out on the important things taking place.   Stephenson (2009) discusses the importance of truly listening to what children are saying and learning from it. This whole exercise reminds me of how many times I say I am listening to what the children are saying, but in all honestly am only half listening. While I think I do a good job at talking with young children in a language that they are able to understand, I realize I have a lot of growth to do in the area of listening to the the children around me. By being a more engaged and active listener I can become an even more effective communicator with young children.

References

Rainer Dangei, J., & Durden, T. R. (2010). The nature of teacher talk during small group activities. YC: Young Children, 65(1), 74-81.

Stephenson, A. (2009). Conversations with a 2-Year-Old. YC: Young Children, 64(2), 90-95.

 

My Family Child Care Home July 7, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — amaliskas1234 @ 1:41 am

If I were to open my own Family Child Care Home I would want a setting that promotes learning in a safe, nurturing environment. The classrooms would promote learning individually as well as through groups. This would occur through furniture and manipulatives set up throughout the room. Each room will be equip with diverse materials that allow students to witness each others cultures through books, puzzles, posters, dolls,and other visuals (Derman-Sparks and Olsen Edwards, 2010). Children of differing ability levels, languages, cultures, ages, etc will be represented throughout multiple aspects in the classroom on a daily basis.

My child care would include an outside space for the children to play and learn in a safe environment offering fresh air.

It would have friendly and welcoming colors on the walls that are inviting to others. The design of the child care home would be centered around child friendliness and everything would be at kid level for the appropriate ages.

To ensure children and families feel welcomed I would take several steps. The following is an overview of the steps I would take:

– I would spend time getting to know the families involved in our care. It is only through getting to know the families and children that I can hope to best meet their needs. I would do so through talking with them and watching them interact with their child. Through this time I would hope to learn what types of things families desire for their child. Other essential information that could be gained during this time would be how families interact with one another or what types of things are seen as normal behaviors within a family culture.

-In addition to this I would offer various professional development for families to partake in covering various topics such as health and nutrition for young children, the importance of engaged fathers, how to extend your child’s learning and development at home, and development 101 – the basics of child development. Through these professional development workshops families would be able to interact together and hopefully form some support groups with the families as suggested by Derman-Sparks and Olsen Edwards (2010).

– One thing I would implement as suggested by Derman-Sparks and Olsen Edwards (2010) would be a family pot-luck night and have families bring traditional dishes to share with one another.  During this time I would include group activities such as ice breakers and small games to encourage collaboration and discussions.

-I would also encourage family members to be involved in their child’s classrooms through reading stories, volunteering to help with activities, or just observing from time to time. It is greatly beneficial to use this time to learn from the families as they interact with their child and other children as well.

– Finally – perhaps one of the simplest, yet underutilized things I would do would be to have a space in each classroom devoted to pictures of the families within each class for the children to see each day. This would help to also act as a bridge to incorporating family traditions and cultures.

References

Derman-Sparks, L., & Olsen Edwards, J. (2010). Anti-bias education for young children and ourselves. Washington, D.C.: National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

 

Week 8 June 23, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — amaliskas1234 @ 3:55 pm

One hope that I have when I think about working with children and families who come from diverse backgrounds would be that I would remain open-minded towards all situations and encounters. I do not want to become closed off towards others because their views, lifestyles, responses, etc.. do not match up with my own. Instead I want to remain focused on what is best for the child and family even when it means I must leave my own personal biases at the door. In doing so I hope that I will help the children and families I work with remain open-minded about diversity as well. I hope to be a resource to them and can encourage them to think critically and move past their own personal biases in order for what is most beneficial to be accomplished.

One goal I would like to set for the early childhood field related to issues of diversity, equity, and social justice would be for there to be more hands on professional development workshops made available to early childhood educators. Further, that these workshops would be made available to college students pursuing a degree in the early childhood field. One thing I feel that was not adequately touched on in my undergraduate degree is that of how to be an anti-bias educator and practical ways of doing so. Through implementing professional development workshops I believe more early childhood educators would begin feeling confident on catering to a diverse field of children and families. With this confidence they (we) would also be able to better implement anti-bias educational strategies within our own classrooms on a daily basis.

Colleagues – I have really enjoyed learning alongside you these last eight weeks! I have gained so much insight from the knowledge and experiences you have shared. I have had to ask myself some hard questions throughout this course and I am thankful I knew I had your support and did not have to fear being judged by anyone. I hope I have been able to lend some insight to you along the way! Thank you for your encouraging comments through discussion and blog post! I wish you the very best in the rest of your journey here at Walden! I hope to see some familiar names in my next Walden course! Please let me know if I can ever be of help to you!

Amy Maliskas

 

week 7 June 15, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — amaliskas1234 @ 2:36 pm

What if we were but a child, innocent and free?

Not yet bound by the rules of society.

What if we were as observant, taking in all that we see?

and learning the things of life through play and discovery.

For if we were a child, surely we would see,

how fragile are their minds and how trusting they can be.

Yet as they watch us carry on through life each and every day

They quietly construct their own sense of self-identity.

From the way we speak to people to the looks we give away,

They begin to form ideas of how life should really be.

They learn through our actions and the type of life we live

and are impacted by the thousands of messages society likes to give.

Through books, songs, movies, and even the T.V,

they receive messages of who they need to be.

Their fragile lives are impacted by those they hold so dear,

An event of trauma could quickly result in a life of fear.

For an unloving hand could lead to child aggression

and an abusive event leaving future relationships in question.

Thus, it is so important for all to really see

the gift we have in children

and the importance of our responsibility.

For it is up to us to teach them the right way

to love themselves and one another

and work through the bias and stereotypes even we display.

May they grow to know their loved and their special in every way.

May they never doubt their ability to rise above life’s  limitations.

For it is through their lives our world may experience better days!

 

Week 6 June 8, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — amaliskas1234 @ 5:45 pm

Just the other day I was waiting to check out at the grocery store and there was a lady and her little girl in front of me at the check out stand. The woman checking customers out at this particular check out stand only had one arm. The other arm stopped at the elbow. The little girl tugged and tugged at her mom’s shirt to tell her something. The mom told her to wait and fumbled through her purse to find something. The little girl growing more persistent said loudly “MOM!” Her mom appeared frustrated and snapped back “WHAT?” The little girl then responded – “How are we going to get our food she only has one arm!?” The mom looked embarrassed and quickly shushed her daughter and said “Not another word!” The little girl looked confused and sat there in the cart with a disgruntle look on her face.

Just as adults notice differences, children do also! Based off of the scenario I shared above there are certain messages that were sent to the little girl by her mother in the situation that occurred. One of the biggest messages that was sent by the mom responding the way she did was that it was wrong to notice/point out differences. In my own opinion it seems as though the mom was getting on the child for noticing a difference. Instead of allowing it to be a learning opportunity for the little girl on how we are all different and that is what makes us special, the mom did the opposite. Another message that I believe was sent to the little girl was that it was wrong of her to even ask a question of how someone who may be physically different from us would still be able to do things like those who are not physically disabled.

An anti-bias educator would have responded much differently. Instead of viewing the child’s question as a complete insult and unneeded comment I believe the educator would have used it as a teachable moment. Instead of telling the child to hush I imagine an anti-bias educator responding with something along the lines of, “Oh, but isn’t that neat – even if she does not have two arms like you do she can still do lots of cool things like you can!”  This type of response would not view the physical disability as a negative thing, but allow the child to see that even people with differences can accomplish great things. Another thing an anti-bias educator may have done according to the information provided in the Seeing Differences Video (Laurette edu, inc. 2010) was take it as an opportunity to discuss other physical differences later on that day. Some ways they could do is by looking at pictures in books or other forms of media that show people with physical differences and discuss somethings they could do just like the little girl.

References

Laureate Education, Inc. (2010). “Start Seeing Diversity: Physical Abilities”.

 

Week 3: Facing issues of concern May 18, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — amaliskas1234 @ 2:30 pm

My response to someone who believes that early childhood centers should avoid the inclusion of books depicting gay or lesbian individuals such as same-sex partnered families would be very simple. I would explain to them that although I do understand their concern, they need not worry that this depiction would influence there child in any way. Just a Tina shared in her story in the multimedia program this week – her boys were not turned gay because she allowed them to wear slips. Thus, reading a book with a same sex family depicted would not influence a child in that way either. Further, I would explain that this is a learning opportunity for the child to see that many different types of families exist. They will surely meet diverse families within their life, I would ensure them that a depiction of a same sex partnered family within a book does not mean this issue would be discussed in great deal. Instead, I would encourage the family to use this as an opportunity to talk with their children about topics such as this within the home.

If I had a parent or family member who informed me they did not want anyone who was perceived homosexual or transgender to be caring for, educating, and or interacting with their child I would have to respond by starting a discussion with them on why they feel this way. Without understanding why they are feeling this way I cannot begin to discuss a different perspective.  I would also use this time to help the parent or family member to see that through discussing such topics of concern with their child they can ensure that their child is not confused about any types of experiences they may have. I would try to explain that their fear is created from issues that are not discussed. I would use it as an opportunity to encourage the to discuss such issues with their children and allow their children to make their own decisions regarding the matter.

Last year one of the room parents for my kindergarten classroom was a dad of a student in my class. This particular parent was homosexual.  He was a blessing to me over the year spending endless amounts of time cutting lamination, running copies, and doing prep work on projects so that I could focus all of my time and attention to teaching the children. At a couple of the school events I would overhear parents speaking to one another in front of my students on not wanting that “fag” or “gay man” around their child. As much as I hated times of confrontation I always stepped in and would first ask the parents to be mindful of what was being said in front of the children. I would then go on to try and engage in discussions with the parents on why they felt the way they did. I would always point out the wonderful things he did for the class and ensure them they had no thing to worry about in regards to safety or other concerns they may have.  Even at the young age of 5 or 6 the children could easily take to heart what they overheard the parents saying about the room parent. They were old enough to recognize differences and had I not stepped in I fear they would have begun treating the room parents son differently based off of these overheard comments.
Through the last three weeks I have grown to understand that there is much to be valued in discussing issues of gender, sexuality, and race. I understand that some of these topics make people feel uncomfortable at times. To be completely honest, certain aspects of  some of these topics still make me uncomfortable at times. Yet, I have learned over the last three weeks that this fear is stimulated from the need to discuss such topics. When these issues are discussed openly the fear tends to decrease immensely. Therefore, I am left with the desire to encourage others to take the time to discuss issues of concern with your children and family members By discussing such issues openly we can experience growth and greater understanding.