TIME FLIES WHEN YOU’RE GAINING AN ABUNDANCE OF KNOWLEDGE!!

Here I am at the end of a 2-year journey to obtaining my Master’s Degree.  WOW–where did the time go?  I guess it flew by somehow in the midst of all the wonderful knowledge I was gaining.  A few of the greatest aspects that I learned along the way include:

  1. The importance of relationships.  Relationships are the absolute backbone to achieving dreams.  Relationships can make or break desired goal achievement!  Accomplishments are more easily obtained when there are individuals who form a united team and work toward a common goal for a positive end result.  Within these relationships everybody can learn and teach–viewpoints may be different, but ah ha moments can then also be discovered leading to greater focused solutions.
  2. Self-Reflection is absolutely necessary.  I can honestly say that prior to this Master’s Program I did not realize the true importance of self-reflection and understanding my core beliefs/values and why I had those beliefs/values.  But now I understand that in order to truly understand others I must know and understand myself and where I am coming from.
  3. WOW diversity is deep.  I knew about diversity and the existence of diversity, but I did not know diversity.  Throughout my life only the surface of diversity was uncovered and I had no real knowledge of how deep diversity runs within all of us and the world in which we live.  I have discovered that the surface of diversity does not share a true story of an individual or group, there is so much more to learn in order to gain a full understanding.

Having discovered a broader anti-bias knowledge base, one long term goal I wish to pursue is to continue to broaden my anti-bias horizons with more new knowledge.  I want to be the best me that I can be–not just for myself, but for my family, the children and families in which I serve, and the strangers in which I will come in contact with throughout life.  I want to be able to build new relationships, communicate, self-reflect, understand others, and live an anti-bias life.  I know the journey has just begun and I know that it will be a challenging ride, but another thing that I have learned throughout this program is that anything is possible.  If you can dream it you can achieve it!!!

Now with all of this said, I need to say a great big THANK-YOU to each and every professor and colleague I have come in contact with along the way.  Every single one of you has played an important role in allowing me to gain so much knowledge and have lit a fire in me to continue on my anti-bias journey.  I appreciate your wisdom as well as your criticism!!  I want to wish you all the best of luck in all of your future endeavors.  You have all made me a better me and I am proud to know that I am on such an inspiring, passionate team looking to create a better world for ALL of our children!!

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**Continue on**—“The Children are waiting for you” Julie Olsen Edwards (Laureate Education Inc., 2011).

References

Laureate Education, Inc. (2011). Strategies for working with diverse children: Your commitment to anti-bias work. Baltimore, MD: Author

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Jobs/Roles in the ECE Community: Internationally

This week I chose to explore 3 international organizations and available employment opportunities including the following:

http://www.savethechildren.org

Save the Children, is an organization stretching throughout 120 countries and reaching 185 million children.  I found this organization to be fabulous in terms of the way they utilize the money received.  $9 out of every $10 goes to programs and services for children and families in need.  They are using that income to do exactly what their organization sets out to do–save the children!  If a donor would rather sponsor a child and provide direct services, that is an option as well.  The donor chooses which child/ren they would like to sponsor and it only costs $30/month.   I also love the high level of expectation placed upon employees, board members, partners, and volunteers–100% accountability–that is how to get positive change for these families accomplished!!

“Save the Children invests in childhood – every day, in times of crisis and for our future. In the United States and around the world, we give children a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. By transforming children’s lives now,
we change the course of their future and ours.”

In exploring career opportunities within the organization I found a position for Family Service Coordinator (Family Advocate) that I would possibly be interested in doing.  This position…

  • provides support for families of Early Head Start and Head Start programs
  • assists families with community resources
  • helps parents set goals and helps in the achievement process
  • encourages family engagement and involvement within Early Childhood programs
  • helps in getting child’s health requirements completed/up to date
  • helps in the child recruitment/enrollment process
  • keeps records/documentation of interactions with families

Requirements to hold this title include:

  • AA in Social work or related Family/Human Services
  • 3 years experience in a position related to Family Services and Adult Education
  • strong collaboration, communication, and organizational skills
  • strong sense of confidentiality
  • self motivation and initiative
  • clear criminal background check

http://www.issa.nl

International Step By Step Association, is a membership based organization that encompasses members and friends within 40 countries.  This organization is impressive as it serves as a learning community and champion for quality and equity for all children and their families.  They value access to high quality programs, holistic child development, diversity, professionalism/life long learning, family involvement, and innovation.  Every value that is encompassed within this organization is exactly what it is going to take to create quality and equitable programs around the world.

As I explored employment opportunities through this site, I found an Early Childhood Development Specialist position based in Hague, Netherlands offered through an organization called Bernard Vaunter Foundation.  This position…

  • improves opportunities for children 0-8 years that are growing up with social and economic disadvantages
  • provides advice and support helping to establish and nurture strong relations with networks of implementers and experts
  • develops ‘how to’ guides for stakeholders interested in implementing parent initiatives
  • supports ongoing efforts and developmental activities
  • maintains and further develops with networks and experts

Requirements to hold this position include:

  • 6-10 years experience in Early Childhood disciplines
  • Minimum of 3 years experience implementing child-related projects in the field
  • bringing new ideas/strategies influencing Early Childhood Development
  • skills in time management
  • strong communication and networking skills

http://www.aed.org—www.fhi360.org

Academy for Education Development/FHI 360 envisions a world in which all individuals and communities have the opportunity to reach their highest potential.  In doing so the organization values and encompasses passion, innovation, excellence and teamwork, but what stuck out to me the most was the fact that this organization wants to empower individuals, families, and communities to tackle their own challenges.  Another factor related to me exploring this site was the fact that I was a military wife and this particular organization chooses to proudly employ U.S. Veterans.

In looking over the employment opportunities, I found a Team Leader position that sounded intriguing.  This position would be filled for relocation to Guatemala.  The position holder would…

  • support the Government of Guatemala to implement institutional reforms promoting quality education in levels of learning achievement and cultural relevance
  • manage all project activities and resources, selection and staff recruitment, compliance with contract objectives and presentation of all products

Requirements to hold the Team Leader title include…

  • MS in Education, Economics, Public Administration/Management, or Political Science
  • 15 years experience in design and management of educational reform programs focusing on general and middle education
  • experience leading teams in an international context
  • at least 5 years of relevant experience in Latin America
  • fluency in English and Spanish

Each international organization that I chose to explore encompassed passion, high expectations, professionalism, family involvement, providing children and families tools to achieve to their highest potential and most importantly success!!!  These organizations provide a driving force in creating high quality, equitable programs for all children and their families!!

References:

Save the Children. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.savethechildren.org

International Step By Step Association. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.issa.nl

Academy for Educational Development. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.aed.org  (http://www.fhi360.org)

 

Exploring ECE Jobs/Roles at a National/Federal Level

In having to conduct another round of research based on exploring early childhood educational jobs and roles, this time being at the national/federal level,  I immediately found an organization that peaked my interest.  The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth stood out to me as this organization could possibly be utilized as a direct connection within my CoP for my chosen challenge of providing impoverished children within my community (eventually expanding outward) daily transportation to and from school.  NAEHCY is a group of national members dedicated to educational excellence for children and youth experiencing homelessness; advocating to change systems so all children and youth can learn, succeed academically, and achieve their dreams (2017).  “[They] (NAEHCY members) are on the front lines identifying, enrolling, and coordinating services for homeless children and youth” (NAEHCY, 2017).  The above explanation regarding this particular organization leads me to my favorite quote within their site, “Education is the key to preventing homelessness for today’s children and youth. They absolutely need and deserve educational opportunities commensurate to those of their housed peers” (NAEHCY, 2017).  Their philosophies and on going work reiterate exactly why all children need to have the proper resources to get to and from school on a daily basis!

In looking for job opportunities within the NAEHCY organization, I only ran across one–that being for an Interim Executive Director, which I do not have the desire to ensue as I would rather be on the front lines within my community.  Regardless, this position is responsible for overseeing the administration, programs, and strategic plan of organization with a possible term of 6-12 months depending on the needs of the organization.  Qualifications for this position include:

  • managing/directing an organization that supports evidence-based professional development through conferences, publications, collaboration with other organizations and entities
  • skills in public relations/marketing
  • excellent oral and written communication as well as listening skills and respect
  • travel willingness and ability
  • recruitment skills, assigning responsibility, and monitoring progress toward specified outcomes
  • Commitment to working within the parameters of NAEHCY by-laws and established policies  (NAEHCY, 2017).

The second organization that I happened to find very appealing is The Alliance for Childhood.  Their mission involves “promoting policies and practices that support children’s healthy development, love of learning, and joy in living.  [They] act for the sake of the children themselves and for a more just, democratic, and ecologically responsible future” (Alliance for Childhood, 2017).  The organization, being composed of board and staff, in consultation with its partners and its national advisory board on early education and funded by grants and donations from foundations as well as hundreds of individuals, particularly captured my attention when I discovered their advocacy and research base regarding the issue of loss of play for the youngsters entering our classrooms daily as well as the issue of misuse of high-stakes testing (Alliance for Childhood, 2017).  I am a firm believer in the aspect of play as children learn so much while at play and I have questioned for many years why there is such an importance placed upon testing a young child.  I hold Mister Fred Rogers’ quote ,”Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” near and dear to my heart and have now discovered an organization that does as well!

As I scrolled the website in search of formal employment, I found none.  What I did find though, was an explanation of a partnership created by teachers, medical professionals, university professors, child advocates, and parents.  The formed alliance explained that each partner will be able to individually initiate new efforts, in consultation with project coordinators, or to join together with other partners as they want to incorporate as little organizational bureaucracy as possible. Each partner will be free to contribute in his or her own way to the shared goal of practical action on the problems that threaten childhood.  With that said, qualifications may vary, but all must value childhood, in its fullest sense, as the human potential to grow in wisdom and love (Alliance for Childhood, 2017).  I would be willing to share my thoughts, ideas, and to advocate within this alliance as an educator as well as a mother of two.

The third organization that caught my attention was The Children’s Defense Fund as they provide a strong, effective and independent voice for all the children of America who cannot vote, lobby or speak for themselves (Children’s Defense Fund, 2017).  The organization pays particular attention to the needs of poor children, children of color and those with disabilities (Children’s Defense Fund, 2017).  Again, in thinking about my challenge regarding the ability to provide daily transportation to and from school for impoverished children, I believe this organization could be another asset to my CoP, as they focus on the needs of poor children as well as advocate for those who do not have the voice needed to pioneer social change.  Their mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities (Children’s Defense Fund, 2017).

An employment opportunity that I found intriguing was the title of Site Coordinator.  This position requires an applicant to be experienced in working with large groups of children and in partnerships with young adults. They must be strong role models who are responsible, energetic, well-organized, and able to think on their feet.  The Site Coordinators should have strong leadership skills with empathy for children and their parents. They also should be familiar with the culture and dynamics of the community and able to work collaboratively with all program constituents (Children’s Defense Fund, 2017).  Qualifications needed include:

  • A Bachelor’s degree
  • Experience managing large groups of children and youth, college-age young people, and engaging with parents
  • Solid commitment to children’s advocacy
  • Ability to motivate others and work as part of an intergenerational team
  • Strong appreciation and understanding and the willingness to be open and respectful of all cultures
  • Willingness to strive for excellence in all areas and ability to think critically and analytically
  • Strong interpersonal skills and commitment to the ethics of good character, humility, and servant leadership (Children’s Defense Fund, 2017).

References:

Alliance for Childhood. (2017). Retrieved March 29, 2017 from http://www.allianceforchildhood.org

Children’s Defense Fund. (2017). Retrieved March 29, 2017 from http://www.childrensdefense.org

National Association for the Education of Homeless Children. (2017). Retrieved March 28, 2017 from http://www.naehcy.org

 

 

Exploring Roles in the ECE Community

In doing a little google research about organizations within Kansas that service our young children and their families, I came across the following 3 which impressed me the most:

  1. Kansas Association for the Education of Young Children (ksaeyc)–

The link:  www.kaeyc.net

I chose this organization as it is directly affiliated with NAEYC,  which provides educational resources for adults committed to improving the quality and availability of services for children birth to 8 years of age.  This does not mean just educators, but parents and caregivers of all kinds.  Within this organization, they offer many diverse ranges of services for children and their families as well as educators–health, educational, economical, etc.  They offer many resources/links to advocating agencies, professional development opportunities/conferences, share information regarding early childhood education with the public, and collaborate with other agencies in order to benefit our young children.  They also work to create appropriate policies for our programs.  They have an understanding of how important the early years are for learning and want to take action while including educators, families, and communities in designing highly effective programs and putting them into practice.

2.  Kansas Action for Children (KAC)

The link:  www.kac.org

The mission of KAC is to shape health, education, and economic policy that will improve the lives of Kansas children and families–the three core essentials that every child needs to reach their full potentials.  This particular organization is all about representing our children at a governmental level, whether in Topeka or in Washington D.C..  They want to involve families and community agencies in creating fair and appropriate policies for our early childhood programs that put our children first!  I was drawn to this agency as it focuses on infants as well as those in their teens, it does not just drop off after kiddos turn 8.  This organization releases research data information, shares on social media, and introduces individuals to advocating for our young children.

3.  Child Care Aware of Kansas

The link:  www.ks.childcareaware.org

This particular organization’s mission is to make sure that high-quality early education is available to ALL Kansas families and children.  They advocate for accessibility and affordability, they promote professional knowledge and skills, they develop community partnerships, and inform families about all aspects of care for their children.  Along with all of those impressive attributes, I found the Direct/Supportive Service Careers section to be very informative.  This section helps individuals that are looking to go into the early childhood field by giving different job titles and descriptions along with educational needs and typical salary ranges.  This is a helpful tool in recruitment of effective individuals to become professionals in the early childhood field.

I am not looking to change my job title as I absolutely love where I am at and cannot imagine being anything but the teacher of my 3-year-old preschoolers!!  It took me several years and a round about avenue to get there as I went from 3rd grade, to Kindergarten, to 4-year-olds, and finally down to 3-year-old land (with a short stint as a stay at home mom and some elementary subbing along the way).  But, if I needed to change my job title I found a few career choices listed within the Direct/Supportive Service Careers section of the Child Care Aware of Kansas site that may be of interest.

First and fore most was TEACHER, and as I said I am already there and loving it!!  I work within a school district and have my BS working on my Master’s.

Second was a FAMILY CHILD CARE OWNER/OPERATOR.  This job would require an understanding of child development, how to create appropriate learning environments (inside and outside), communication skills, business planning/marketing, development of program policies, positive modeling, and continuing professional development.  This could be done with a CDA or ECAAP certificate or for higher level pay an Associate or Bachelor degree.

Lastly was as a FAMILY SPECIALIST/FAMILY ADVOCATE.  This job would require developing relationships with families, sharing information with families regarding a child’s learning/development/well-being, seeking out resources or services connecting families with materials, support groups, community resources, counselors, and/or specialists that would be specific to a families needs.  This job can be obtained by having an associate degree in the early childhood field with 1-2 years experience.  But, for advancement a Bachelor or Master degree is preferred.  This job could be done in the following settings—Corporation, Government Agency, Early Childhood Program, Non-Profit Organization.

 

A Passionate Thank You!!

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Reflecting over the past courses of anti-bias studies and the path I want to be on, my greatest passion is for me to continue on this life-long journey of creating equality for all!  And as I go, I hope to bring others along for the ride of their life.  I am in a powerful position to begin to change the views of unfairness within the world we live and I must begin with the youngsters I serve daily.  Being an educator in the early childhood field, my passion for each and every child and family I come in contact with would be that they take pride in who they are not backing down for anyone, knowing they have an important role in our communities, societies, and world as a whole!  I wish for all early childhood educators to create positive impacts in the lives of children and families daily leading them to know they deserve to be success stories!!

With that said, I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you. You have all played an important part in helping me be successful along this anti-bias journey.  I appreciate all the support and knowledge that each of you bring.  You have all brought many ‘ah ha’ moments my way.  Sometimes my views may be narrow, but with the help of other passionate people such as all of you within my profession, my views become broader and broader!  Thank you for many eye opening discussions and blogs!

Innocence Lost–Impacts on Early Emotional Development In the Middle East

I chose to view the challenges encountered by the Middle East and North America region.  I decided to study this region’s challenges that would affect the emotional development of children due to the fact that first, as a military wife for several years, I developed some strong biases towards the Middle Eastern people and second I knew that it was a war torn region of the world.

As I was exploring the UNICEF website, I learned that the country (Yemen being what I read mostly about) is continuously bombarded and much street fighting occurs day and night.  Ten million children whom live in this region are then exposed to all the violence having no safe place to play or sleep–danger lurks at all times.  Unfortunately, many of those innocent children are being pressed into conducting military activity such as manning checkpoints and carrying weapons.  The ill-fated reality of the children’s circumstances, no choice of their own, becomes injury or worse death.

Being in the war stricken region has also lead to many children being displaced.  They lose their families and homes all the while struggling to find clean water and nutritious meals to keep them healthy.  Resources have become scarce due to all the destruction of war.  There is a lack of sanitation, which leads to disease on top of the violence, and then there is a shortage of medical equipment, supplies, and personnel to treat injuries or diseases that quickly spread throughout the region.  There is also a lack of supportive health services to assist individuals suffering from the effects of exposure to all the violence and lack of safety.

As I reflect on the situation the young children of the Middle East (Yemen in particular) are facing, it breaks my heart knowing that many of them are alone with no safe place to retreat to.  They are in constant fear and uncertainty.  The relationships that many of them have are artificial or nonexistent.  They may never learn how to trust or what it feels like to be truly loved and cared for.  The lack of self-worth or feeling of not being worthy/good enough renders the desire to continue the cycle of violence and the idea of who cares what happens to me and who cares how I treat the next individual.  All of these aspects of the war stricken region can contribute to risk factors such as mental health issues, behavioral issues, violent tendencies, suicidal thoughts, depression, and a gamut of other issues I cannot even fathom in my mind.  And all without adequate health services for support.

Taking into consideration what the young children of the Middle East are facing every single day and night I say to myself, “You are selfish!”  I now have a broken heart as opposed to the rigid heart I had developed as a military wife.  I only read about their reality and have absolutely no clue what it is like to be in their shoes.  For me, it makes money for education here in the states seem trivial–even though I know how important it is for our educational system and our children.  But, when I say that I just think–the children across the ocean do not even have many ,if any, safe schooling opportunities.  I feel blessed to have the opportunities to impact children daily, but I have really had my eyes open to the fact that I can, a lot of times, only see the surface of what may be going on in someone else’s world.  I do not ever want to be rigid and judgmental, instead patient, caring, and accepting of all who enter my classroom.

References

UNICEF (2016).  Retrieved from: http://www.unicef.org

 

Sexualization of Early Childhood

WOWZER!!  Unbelievable.  True Sadness.  What is wrong with our society?  Seriously this needs to stop!!  All of this is in reaction to the unfortunate reality of the sexualization of  early childhood.  I knew that all of the sexualized messages and advertisements present in this day and time were affecting young children, but I never thought about how young the children being affected really were.  All I really knew was, it seems to trickle down younger and younger every year.

As I think about and reflect upon personal and professional experiences that have illustrated exposure of young children to this highly sexualized environment, I go back to 2001-2002.  This was the year of my first teaching job in a third grade classroom.  Here I was new out of college and I have to stop my entire class to discuss sex as an appropriate entity between two people who LOVE one another.  It all began because I overheard a boy and a girl discussing what age they would have to be in order to have sex together.  I will honestly say that I do not fully recall what I said, as I was super embarrassed–new teacher and all–and the children in my class were super embarrassed that I stopped in the middle of class to form an appropriate discussion based on this particular incident.  Continuing to think about other situations, just recently–a couple of weeks ago–a young lady in the 5th grade class, at the school I currently teach at, had on a super tight tee shirt and obviously a super padded bra, as the day before she wasn’t as well endowed (even one of my paras noticed).  And lastly, my 2nd grade son, who is lets just say short and very stalking, has commented several times that he needs to lose a little bit of weight so the girls will like him.  I’m not sure why he feels this way as we do not promote that way of thinking within our household.  I continue to talk with him about his way of thinking and try to reassure him he is beautiful just the way God made him.  He also gets the statement about being too young to worry about girls right now–it is okay to have friends that are girls, but no “girlfriends” are necessary right now.

As I think about the impacts of the highly sexualized world in which we live, I cringe to think about how these young children build relationships based on sexuality as opposed to trust and love.  I am also saddened by the fact that most youngsters will only view themselves as worthy if they have the “right” body structure based on societal views and messages.  What a shallow society we inhabit.  We learn at these very young ages to be judgmental of others as well as ourselves and we learn how to put ourselves in categories of belonging or outcast.  We are either “better than” or depressed because we do or do not meet certain societal standards of SEXY.

As I think about ways of reducing these negative impacts on our children, I feel as though appropriate parenting classes would be a benefit–teach parents how to modify negative sexual media, help demonstrate appropriate conversations to be having, reassure parents that it is okay to ask questions and answer matter of factly at an appropriate age level, and be sure to reiterate that these conversations should be inclusive of both boys and girls-as both genders are affected.

In having to take a closer look at the terrible reality of sexualization of young children in our world, I can say that I was awe stricken by the super young age that children are truly taking in these nasty, negative messages.  I knew it was young, but I did not know it was 4 years old young.  Yes, I see the advertisements, movies and T.V. shows, and slinky clothes that are put on these itty bitties, but I always put that responsibility on parents-now I understand there are messages being relayed to that child in an unexpected manner.  I have also gained an understanding of how truly important it is to step up and be an open communicator about this topic which can be an uncomfortable discussion, but a very important one!

 

Evaluating Impacts on Professional Practice

Today, February 10, 2017, as I sat at work surrounded by my coworkers, in which included a middle-eastern female in her twenties, a Spanish lady originally from Columbia in her fifties, and a white, blond haired female in her fifties, I thought to myself about what biases, prejudices, “isms” that I have encountered in my own life that were directed at me.  At that point, I honestly couldn’t think of any and even now as I am writing this I can’t think of a specific one, but I can only imagine the biases that the middle-eastern female and Spanish lady had felt throughout their life and continue to feel.  I feel as though the blond had about the same experiences as myself growing up as part of the dominant culture.

Anyway, as I looked at my coworkers all I could think about was– they were kids once.  And being those kids that came from different backgrounds and cultures to the United States I would hope that they had teachers that embraced their differences and diversity.  I want to be that teacher.  The one who probably has biases aimed at her, but allows herself to look beyond and embrace ALL children regardless of differences/background!  I pride myself in building strong relationships within my classroom–the ones that continue to grow even as the children go on to elementary school (I love receiving hugs from children that are now 3rd graders that were once in my classroom).  I also pride myself in making everyone of them feel as though I take care and love them as if they were my very own regardless of where they come from!

My job is not to focus on what people think or do not think of me, my job is to think about and fulfill the needs of each and every child and their family that walks through my classroom door on a daily basis!  If I focus on myself, I lose sight of what is important and that is helping each child and family reach their highest potential and become a success story!!

Now, I am not saying that biases or prejudices aimed at myself cannot be utilized as teachable moments, but I do not want to make any of that about me, instead I need to make it about my students and be the role-model for them displaying respect and dignity while embracing feelings of others that I may encounter and that may be directed at me.

Mindful Communication Observation

Today, January 26th, I chose to sit back and observe the communication and relationships built between the music teacher, who comes in once a week for 30 minutes, and the fourteen 3- year-old students in which I left in her attendance.

The very first thing that I took note of was upon entering our classroom, even with hands full of instruments and a heavy bag hanging off her shoulder, she greeted every student with eye contact and a smile.  The second thing that I took note of was the fact that once she dropped off the instruments and her heavy bag, she took a seat right on the floor putting herself on the same level as the children.  Upon sitting down amongst the kiddos, she was bombarded with hugs and excited voices exclaiming so much that I could not even begin to gather what all the children were saying at one time (nor could the teacher, but she was just as excited about their news as each of them)!  After allowing a few moments of excitement and sharing she began her lesson based on “Jack.”

Today, Jack jumped over the candlestick, which included the children learning the poem first and then each of them-regardless of physical ability, were allowed to try to jump over the candlestick (paper cup) as Jack had done.  In teaching the poem, breakdown and repetition with lots of practice were key.  Once the poem could be recited fairly flawlessly the teacher had one child at a time run and jump while the other 13 stated the poem.  During this process there was a lot of cheerleading and encouragement, high fives, hugs, clapping, smiles, and laughter not only between teacher and students, but between students and students–I found that to be super fabulous!!

Reflecting upon the little snippet I have shared about my observation, I know that each and every child felt proud and had a lot of self worth and caring for one another.  The teacher made sure to meet and greet each student upon entering, along with putting herself at their level right off the bat trying to capture what all of them were saying at one time–her vocal language and listening as well as her body language and positioning set the tone for how the children would react to her and the lesson she presented.  The children were all engaged without fear or hesitation to mess up on the poem or the jump, feeling very comfortable in their skin/willing to take a risk.  And, she modeled for the children how to be encouraging to one another as she was cheering and clapping, so were the children!  With that said, I am not sure how the teacher could have been more affirming or effective in her communication–she was great!  Now, in ending her time with the children, again she validated each child individually with a goodbye hug, high five, smile…child’s choice.

As I sat back and observed, I found a lot of my interaction tactics were utilized by the music teacher as well.  I meet and greet each child that enters my room daily, as well as whom ever drops them off.  As I have stated before I am a physical being within my class, so I hug, high five, elbow tap, pinky hug, thumb tap, etc.  I sit on the floor as well, in order to be on the same level as the kiddos in my class.  I am a cheer leader and an encourager, who does not believe in “I can’t,” but instead “I’ll try!”  I do a lot of repetition and question asking.  We have a sharing time at the beginning of each class called “Extra Extra Preschool News”–this allows each child to share anything they want to, or not at all if they do not feel like sharing.  I end the day with goodbyes and again hugs, high fives, smiles, or whatever the child so chooses!

As I have read this week, I try to show each individual who enters my classroom that they are valued.  I do not ever want anyone to feel ignored (Kovach & Da Ros-Voseles, 2011).  I also want to allow children a voice within their classroom (the classroom is not only mine it is ours) which means I must step back and listen (Stephenson, 2009).  And I want to be on their level both physically and mentally.  I want to position myself and have appropriate body language as well as appropriate language and voice with the 3-year-olds I hold so dear to my heart (Dangel & Durden, 2010).  Most importantly, I want to be a role model who exhibits love and kindness for everybody, not only with my words, but my actions as well, –children watch our every move.  The good news is, I observed a music teacher that holds the same desires as myself!!  As a way of improvement…continue to practice, practice, practice on mindful communication tactics.

References

Kovach, B., & Da Ros-Voseles, D. (2011). Communicating with babies. YC: Young Children, 66(2), 48-50.

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.

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Creating Affirming Environments

There are many aspects that go into creating learning environments that reflect uniqueness, exoticness, and the overall diversity of each and every individual that we may encounter on a daily basis.  In regards to the principal, “Every child deserves to develop to his or her fullest potential” I have in mind created a Family Child Care Center with the following attributes (Derman-Sparks & Edwards, 2010, p. 2).

First and foremost, in thinking about the child, I definitely have to think about the family. So with that, I will build those relationships.  As Adriana Castillo described, we need to form a small community, meaning I want to include the families as a part of the program (Laureate Education Inc., 2011).  In doing so, I am going to make the effort to get to know families on a personal level.  This is where being at the door to greet everyone who enters the center becomes essential.  By being readily available, it shows the families that I care about what is happening in their lives-wanting to be part of it.  Along with that I will invite them into the center with an open door policy-welcome anytime of day.

In learning about each family, I want to have reflection of who they are throughout the center so others may learn about them too.  I will incorporate pictures of the families and the children.  I will have a get to know you shelf/table in which each family will have a turn to share about their lives and culture as well (Laureate Education Inc., 2011).  I will incorporate opportunities for families to present about themselves within the center as well and also enjoy food experiences reflecting cultural tastes from around the world.

Within my center I will include play areas/centers that have materials reflecting many diverse cultures and customs.  This will include, but not be limited to, diverse baby dolls, cultural play foods and cookware, cultural dress up, diversified literacy materials, puzzles depicting diversity, art materials-including different skin toned colored paper, markers, paints, etc., and an overall curriculum that reinforces their learning of diversity through their play.  Along with this, I want to present information to each family about what is happening within the center in their home language.

I know that sometimes emotions come into play.  I will create a “Safe Place” for children and their families to utilize.  The safe place will contain soft comforting items–pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, emotion cards/feeling buddies to help explain their feelings, breathing techniques, and of course diverse, comforting images and sounds.

With all of these ideas incorporated within my Family Child Care Home, I reflect and keep in mind that “Anti-bias teachers keep improving the learning community they create year by year” (Derman-Sparks & Edwards, 2010, p. 32).  This center is great now but, there will be improvements the more I learn over the years!

References:

Laureate Education, Inc. (2011). Strategies for working with diverse children: Welcome to an        

     anti-bias learning community. Baltimore, MD: Author

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).