Life’s a Climb, but the View is Great
This journey through the R2P process has had its challenges throughout the semester, but once those challenges were overcome, I was able to better understand the actions I was observing in the classroom and the practices that teachers were implementing. Some challenges that I faced were learning how to hyperlink articles, provide substantial research, and create a story that is captivating to the audience. However, the R2P journey has helped me grow through observing, questioning, researching, and reflecting. Therefore, I had to climb over some barriers, but once I was over them, it was all worth it and the amount of growth and learning that came from it felt so great.
Observations: The View
Throughout this journey, I learned so much about the importance of observation. When I first started writing about observations in my posts, I included my thoughts along with what I saw. For example, in my It’s a Beautiful Day to Play in the Classroom post, I said, “Many of the activities available during free time consist of puzzles, building blocks, cooking food in the kitchen, taking care of baby dolls, coloring, playing with play dough etc. Even though many of these centers teach children valuable skills, there should be more play that is connected to academic topics.” However, I learned that observations should strictly be about what is occurring in the classroom because the information should be written without a biased input. During the Inquiry in the Rounds project, I learned the importance of observing. Observations allowed me to change how I was presenting the information to best meet the needs of the students. For example, in my Inquiry-Based Learning is like Sunshine on a Cloudy Day post, I wrote, “the students also seemed eager to learn. As they came to each station, they would excitedly read the title of what they were to be learning. However, as the day went on, the students appeared to be losing focus and becoming more tired. For example, students began to look around more and increasingly ask off-topic questions.” Due to these observations, I was able to change how the information was presented to keep the audience more engaged, which is also what I have to do when I write my R2P blog posts.
Question: The Climb
Throughout this journey, I learned how to rewrite questions in order to learn more about my observations. For example, when I wrote Keep Calm and Teach On, I had so many questions about calm down corners. However, Academic Search Complete didn’t have any articles written about calm down corners because the concept is so new. Therefore, the R2P process taught me how to think about the various aspects that I wanted to know surrounding a calm down corner. Once I thought about it, I realized that I was more interested in ways to help students calm down and self-regulate their emotions. Once I got a new perspective on the topic, I was able to get to the root of my question and find research to support the observations that I had seen in my field placement.
Research: Supporting Yourself during the Climb
Throughout this journey, I learned how to find articles that contained information gained from scientific research and experiments. When I first started writing my blog posts, the majority of my research was supported by google searched websites and youtube videos. However, as I wrote my blog posts, I began to get more in depth in my topics and realized that it was becoming harder to find reliable sources through google searched websites and Youtube videos. This is when I realized that I needed to find research based articles to make my blog posts more credible. I also learned that it’s important to write a description about the article in the blog post. As a student and future teacher who doesn’t have much free time, I am less likely to read an eight page article if I don’t know what it’s about. I don’t want to risk wasting my time reading something that didn’t even interest me. I think many of us can agree. Therefore, in my last blog post, Keep Calm and Teach On, I found research-based articles, summarized them in my post, and attached the links for those who want to read about the topic further in depth.
Reflection: The View is Great
Throughout this journey, I learned that reflection is the key to success. At the beginning of the semester, I would submit my blog post after the writing and editing process. However, later in the day, I would think of things that I could have or should have added to my post. Therefore, I began giving myself some wait time before submitting my blog post. I would write it, go about my day, think about what I had written, then edit it. This gave me time to reflect on things that could be improved in my blog post before publishing it. In addition, reflection was a key component to my Inquiry in the Rounds project. I wrote about this project before I presented it, then went back and wrote about how the session had gone. This made me realize just how important reflecting really is for a teacher. I thought about the things I could’ve done differently, the things that went well, and the things that needed completely thrown out the window. I will continue to do this as I become a teacher because it’s important to keep improving yourself and becoming the best teacher you can possibly be.
Technology: How You Choose to Climb to the Top
Throughout this journey, we were allowed to choose a form of technology to convey our message to professors, peers, and any one else who wanted to read. I chose to blog because I love to write. However, I learned so many things I didn’t even know I needed to learn when I began blogging. I started out having no clue how to hyperlink a website into my blog. In all honesty, I would’ve just copied and pasted the link in the blog, which I realized looks very unprofessional. Therefore, I quickly learned through Tatiana and her helpful videos how to hyperlink articles into my blog. After my first post, I realized that it only consisted of headings and my thoughts, observations, and/or research, which is VERY boring. Therefore, over the past few weeks, I have learned to add pictures, quotes, Youtube videos, and featured images. When I began, I saw it all in black and white: answering the prompts through headings and my responses. Now I know that there is so much more to blogging. It’s a story that is used to capture the audience’s attention to convey a specific message backed up with research. Blogging is a form of technology, but there is so much more technology that can be added into a blog.
If I were to experience this journey again, I would push myself to try new things. For example, I chose to convey my message through a blog because I was comfortable with writing and it is something I enjoy doing. Therefore, if I were to experience this journey again, I would try conveying my message through another medium, such as a podcast. If I were to do this experience again with a blog, I would try to find new features that I could add to my blog posts. For example, I would try to add different sections in which the reader could click around and interact with different parts of the blog like recent events, online resources, a podcast version of the blog post, etc.
There are many things I will be taking with me as I go into my student teaching and teaching career. The most important thing I will be taking with me from the R2P journey is the importance of reflection. I plan to leave a section for reflection at the end of every lesson plan. After the lesson is taught, I will take some time to reflect on how the lesson went and write my thoughts down on paper. Another thing I will take with me is the fact that you can always learn more. When I started writing blog posts, I saw it as simply writing about a topic. As time progressed, I learned about so many different things I could add to my blog posts. There is still so much more that I can learn. Therefore, I’ll keep in mind that no matter how much I already know, I can always learn more. Lastly, I will take with me the idea of looking at situations in different ways. Not only did this help me find a way to frame a question, it will also allow me to better understand my students and where they are coming from. It took me a while to discover the root of the questions I really meant to ask in my research. The same can apply to a child who is difficult, you just need to dig deeper and find the root of their behaviors.
A piece of advice I would give to the next ERCH 496 students is to step out of your comfort zone. You will learn so much through this journey if you keep an open mind and are willing to try new things. It might seem like a lot of work at first, but once it’s done and you look back at it, you will see how much you’ve learned about the wonderful field of education. A piece of advice I would give Tatiana for the next iteration of the R2P project is to teach a mini lesson about an aspect to incorporate into our R2P posts at the beginning of class, then allow the students to work on their posts for a little, so they can ask questions as they work. I remember being very confused during the first blog post I wrote because I had no clue if I was on the right track or not.
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Life’s a Climb, but the View is Great
This song is a representation of my journey through the R2P process. As I navigated my way through creating a blog and writing each post, there were many obstacles that I had to overcome. I learned the hard way that you need to save your blog post if you’re going to take a break or everything will delete when the session expires after an hour of inactivity. I also had to teach myself how to add various features to my blog. These things took some extra time. Sometimes they didn’t even work. As they say, you win some, you lose some. However, it’s not about how it turns out in the end. What truly matters is how you got there. I learned a lot along the way through my successes and many failures. Looking back at it all, the climb was so worth it because the view that I have now on the field of early childhood education is so much greater than where I began.