Monday, April 5, 2010

Teaching Philosophy

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

According To the Local News:

The pre-kindergarten programs of Alabama and North Carolina have been rated the nation's best by the National Institute for Early Education Research.

Gov. Bob Riley announced Wednesday that Alabama and North Carolina shared the top spot in meeting all quality standards in pre-K. It marked the third year in a row that Alabama held the institute's top spot.

Marquita Davis, Alabama's Commissioner of the Department of Children's Affairs, said Alabama and North Carolina are the only states that meet all 10 of the institute's standards for high quality pre-K.

Here's an offical shout out to all my pre-K peeps!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Partnerships: Connecting School and Home


By definition:
the state or condition of being a partner; participation; association; joint interest

My mission:
To foster a climate of instructional excellence, individual growth, and community partnerships

My problem:
I wasn't aware of how much, despite how often I involve parents, I was neglecting a huge portion of my students' literacy development by simply not asking the right questions when talking to their caregivers.

The result:
An unequal partnership... if really even a partnership at all?

My Solution:
To do a better job not only conveying information about literacy to my students' caregivers, but also illiciting information from my students' caregivers because as I read in Orellena et all: Parents and teachers talk about literacy and success, "Literacy acquisition does not take place simply in the heads of individuals. What children learn about the meanings and uses of print and print-related practices is shaped by their daily life experiences and the interactions that they have with people and print in the world around them."

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What Does Blogging Do For You?

I first started blogging after reading my sister's blog, Mean Mommy. I realized she had found a community of mothers where she could talk about the ups and downs of being a mom, bounce ideas off other people similar to herself, feel supported by others, and be honest about herself as a mother in a way that wasn't threatening because she just another anonymous blogger. After trying for 4.5 years to talk to my friends about teaching and watching their eyes glaze over, I too wanted to begin blogging to document the funny things that happen in my classroom and read about other teachers' experiences.

I had no idea how many contacts I would make, how much support I would receive, how much I would learn about others and how blogging would connect me to teachers all over the world... professional learning communities on a totally different, laid back, personal level. How amazing it was to read about a 4th grade teacher in Indiana and how writer's workshop works in her classroom ... a first year teacher struggling to make it through the end of the day ... a 2nd grade teacher who could write for "Kids Say the Darnedest Things." All in all, I had no idea how many other bloggers I had so much in common with. Despite our differences in grade levels, states, even countries, we all have a similar passion: teaching children.

This January I began graduate school and enrolled in a class that actually REQUIRED me to blog, for a GRADE! Similar to the diverse community of bloggers I was already connected to, the people I am in class with come from very different fields of study. We vary from birth- Kindergarten teachers to school psychologists but we all are passionate about children and specifically, for the requirements of this class, all have an interest in emergent literacy.

Blogging with this group has enabled me to hold conversations about literacy with my graduate school peers but not through face-to-face interactions. We have become a community within ourselves, created a "safe-zone" to talk about issues within our classrooms or case studies, and as a result our knowledge of emergent literacy has grown. We have tackled many tough issues in class such as developmentally appropriate practice, use of technology, home/school congruency, ELL students, etc. I participated in class discussions as well as blogging and as a result, I was able to build on my thoughts and reactions to the course readings/concepts because I was apart of something bigger than myself. We have learned from one another by reading and responding to others' blogs, we have taught one another by sharing our professional experiences and expertise, and we have established a professional learning community which I hope we can continue even after our class has ended.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Yo No Habla Espanol

I have a confession to make...

I have no idea how to help students that do not speak English. I was not ever trained to help them. I have not (as of today) ever had a student in my classroom that could not speak English so I have not ever looked into learning more about how to help students who are not English speaking students. It is not that I'm not aware of the increasing population of Spanish speaking students in our area, it just has not effected me... YET!

I was basically kicked out of my Spanish II class in high school and barely passed (I got a 69.5) so you can imagine, I'm scared! I am, what I consider, a highly qualified teacher, but I have had zero, zilch, nada training in how to teach children who do not speak English.

I guess I know my next Individual Growth Plan goal... but seriously, what does this say about the education teachers are receiving in undergrad? Are undergrad programs changing to meet the needs of the population of children in our classrooms today? I'm not just speaking about ELL students, but all students: developmentally delayed, autistic, ADD, AG, 21st century learners, etc. The hardest part of our job is differentiating instruction to meet the needs of all the students in our classroom and last I checked my classroom is getting more and more diverse and the needs of my students vary greatly.

It is impossible for one person (me) to be an expert in all the areas I need to be an expert in to meet the needs of all my students. Thankfully, we're not alone. Collaboration is the most important part of my job and it truly takes a team of people (myself, other educators and parents) to provide the support needed for students, as well as for teachers, so all can be successful and positively impact the learning of all students.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

April 2nd

As you go about your day today remember that today is World Autism Awareness Day.

Last April I was asked to join a group of bloggers that devoted their entire month to blogging about Autism. It was wonderful to be linked to so many people, share stories, provide support, and most importantly develop a better understanding of what autism is and how I, a regular education teacher, can help.

I would love to be linked with that group again this April however the blogger who started our group and organized all of us is no longer on blogger. I don't know how to find her so if anyone else does, please let me know.

For those of you who would like to know more please visit:

Sunday, March 22, 2009

How Can You Reach Congruency?

A child's entry into school is an important transition that I play a significant role in as a Kindergarten teacher. Children enter Kindergarten with a wide variety of prior experiences, especially experiences in literacy.

This week I read an article from the Journal of Early Childhood Literacy entitled, Engagement with print: Low-income families and Head Start children which examined the types of print literacy activities low-income parents reported engaging in with their four-year old children who are involved in Head Start, a pre-school program for children from low-income families living in the USA. Head Start is a federally funded, comprehensive child development program that originated under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 to benefit low-income children.

It is known that children who enter school more prepared in terms of having knowledge about literacy, have an advantage over children who do not have these experiences. Ideally, Head Start helps prepare children who would not have exposure to literacy before beginning school on their own the opportunity to be exposed to literacy.

The article suggested the important role of pre-school and particular parent-child activities in developing children's early print concepts. While the results of home-school connections appear encouraging, achievement gaps still persist, especially with low-income and minority children. This lead me to question, what are we (educators) doing to support these families and the young children entering into school?

According to the article, The relationship between homes and schools is a complex one. Using and valuing what families already know in order to teach them what they do not know is a subtle process that can easily go wrong. Collaboration and negotiation are important for achieving a relationship between homes and schools that can support children's early literacy development however, it does not address how to go about creating this relationship with families and thus leaves me still wondering, how can you reach congruency between home and school? How can we support parents' literacy contracts with schools' literacy contracts?