Friday, May 29, 2020

Respect for the Child


Our schools closed mid March, 
 for what we thought would be a two week shut down to protect against the spread of Covid 19. 

Here we are almost three months later.
As with all things in life, every situation no matter how bleak should provide us with an opportunity for growth. 

For the past three months I've been cleaning and organizing the classrooms (10 in total) and refreshing the environments. When you undertake such a large task you become reflective of the practices in your school and you begin to develop a plan for improvement on many fronts.

As an educator, with a career that spans 40 years, I've come to know that the best teachers are the ones that have   
 a deep and abiding respect for children and childhood.

Respect can be measured in many ways. The most observable is the way in which teachers engage with children on a daily basis in conversations and behaviours. 

Beyond this there are many telltale signs which can be found in 
 the smallest of details.


The care for children's
 personal effects in their cubbies; shoes together, hats and scarves tucked into coat sleeves; items hanging on their hooks; cubby pictures printed properly; photos up to date; extra clothing in clear bags properly labeled and replenished; beds labeled with old tape removed and blankets folded; children's portfolios neat and organized; books kept in good repairs; broken toys removed from the room. 
The list is endless.

On a larger scale, I turn my attention to the environment because it is here that children negotiate learning.
How a teacher cares for her classroom speaks greatly of her respect for her children.

The environment cannot simply be about making things look aesthetically pleasing, it has to be much more.

Materials should be organized, sorted, and available.

Beyond looking nice this is an important element in the children's abilities to negotiate experiences.
Think of it this way, if you decide to bake a cake and you're half way through the ingredient list only to discover you have no baking powder, how frustrated do you feel?
The same can be applied to a child who begins his work only to have to shift through a mountain of items to find what he needs, to run out of parts to complete a pattern, to have to spend most of his time hunting instead of thinking.
Some may argue that the hunting, shifting and looking is part of the learning journey. Perhaps, but only to a small extent.

A teacher who is invested ensures the classroom is ready for her students. 

Rushing is a teacher's greatest folly; it is what hinders her from meaningful relationships with her children and the environment.

Ask yourself what you are rushing toward?

A teacher who repects children and childhood has no cause to rush; she savours every moment and draws from it, looking for meaning and joy.
Before she leaves at the end of her school day, she pauses to reflect and then plan for tomorrow.
She takes the time to say goodbye to the children, to prepare, to unright a toppled picture frame, to staple a piece of loose documentation, to dry water from the bathroom sink so children don't soak their sleeves.
She is unhurried and this is a sign of the respect she has for the children who are entrusted to her and the art of learning in a negotiated setting.
If a teacher cannot commit to this type of practice then she is in the wrong profession.
There cannot be a 50 percent teacher.
She is all in or out.

Three months at home?
How many webnars have teachers watched?

As with all things in life, the greatest rewards come when we live our passion.






















Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Think beyond Paper

The First Week with the Colour Orange

A traditional approach to engaging children in the exploration of colour is to give them paper and paint or perhaps crayons or play dough.
Observe what happens when a vast array of orange loose parts is used to entice them.

These are some of the first discoveries the toddler made with the materials.



















Saturday, February 8, 2020

Keep Your Sense of Wonder

Someone recently asked me when I would be retiring or if I at least was thinking about it.

Without hestitation I replied, "I'm working until I can't anymore."

Why?

The answer is simple because I don't consider what I do everyday as work.
My choice of careers comes from my deep commitment to making certain that, with my team of teachers, we provide the best possible preschool experience for our youngest citizens.
Each day, as I engage in my craft, I never lose sight of two important things; to keep my sense of wonder and to bear in mind that
 the early years have a formative impact on development in all aspects; relationships, emotional health, self regulation, cognitive function. Poor care and nurturing in the formative years can have devestating effects on brain develepment and emotional function.

How do I stay passionate about my work?
I've never lost my sense of wonder and I believe that is what keeps me connected to the children.
Children are amazed by the smallest of things; a bug crawling across a leaf, a budding flower, a first mark on a piece of paper, the first snow fall. The things that most adults have long forgotten how to appreciate.
I see the world through their eyes and I am amazed each and every time I am with them.

I am moved when I enter the classroom and they greet me with excitement ready to share their stories and their latest work. I listen attentively to their adventures, both real and imagined, I appreciate their sense of humour, I wipe a tear from their cheek, take a tissue to a runny nose and sit with them to share a lunch. I readily leave a pile of paperwork on my desk and trade it for a morning of messy clay or time spent in the loose part studio.

After all what's the hurry?
Nothing is as important as the small eyes that seek you out, the tiny voice that calls to you or the deep sense of gratification that comes from knowing that in the smallest, yet most profound way, you are making an impact on another life.

I recently became a grandmother and being with my grandson has rekindled my commitment to the betterment of educating and nuturing young children.

We can never lose sight of the fact that we must not only nuture their minds but also their souls.

So keep your sense of wonder and live through the eyes of a child!