As I reflect on my experience with this semester’s R2P posts, I definitely think my blogging skills have grown and I’ve become a lot more familiar with the platform. I’m glad I’ve focused on blogs the entire semester, because I got more familiar with the blogging process and each post was better than the previous one. I’m glad I had the opportunity to explore all the possible options for a blog such as hyperlinks, adding pictures, linking youtube videos, etc.
In the future I hope to continue using blogs and becoming even more familiar with the process. I could see myself writing weekly blogs as a teacher just to summarize and highlight some of the great things that happened in class for the parents to read. I also would like to explore vlogs and podcasts and possibly work with them in the future.
Teaching has become more stressful now than it ever was during this time of the Covid-19 pandemic. This is new for everyone, and there is a lot of uncertainty about how teachers should move forward. Are my students still learning? Did I assign too many online assignments? How do I rewrite all my plans for the rest of the year? The most important thing to remember is no matter what you’re doing, this is all new and its okay to change your new plans two, three, four, or however many times it takes to get it “right”. Here are a few reminders as we move forward.
Take it easy on your students
This is stressful for everyone, and all of your students have different lives and responsibilities at home than at school. If you feel like you aren’t assigning enough work or the assignments are not challenging enough, let it be. Don’t feel pressured to assign more work, and also don’t be afraid to assign less work either. This adjustment period is new for everyone and all students are going to be able to complete their work at a different rates.
Take it easy on yourself
Make sure to find some time in your day to take care of yourself. Read a book, watch a show, go for a walk, cook a nice meal, whatever you need to do as long as you are giving yourself some time to decompress. Once again, this is a new experience for everyone, and we are all trying our best. Try not to feel defeated or discouraged if you are having problems with online learning platforms or coming up with redesigned lessons.
Moving forward …
As we move forward, remember that you are not alone this. If you are having a hard time coming up with ideas and ways to redesign your lessons to fit the online learning platforms, talk to other teachers about it. If you have a student who hasn’t posted any work or logged on to zoom classes, reach out to them. Most importantly, you are doing enough, you’re learning new things and getting better every day, and you are not going through this alone.
The closing of schools and workplaces due to the outbreak of Covid-19 is a very stressful time and it’s also new, uncharted territory. Maybe you have a couple children at home, all at different grade levels. Your child’s teacher may have provided detail plans of how your child can continue their education at home, or barely any classwork at all. In this blog post I intend to highlight some of the important things to focus on when helping your children get through this weird time and provide a few resources to do so.
One of the most important pieces of advice I could give is to stick to a routine or schedule. It doesn’t have to be as specific as a school day schedule, but the children should still be waking up early and have some type of consistency throughout the week. Students learn best when they know the plan for the day and have some structure to follow.
Getting outside should also be an important part of your routine each day. Even with parks being closed, there are plenty of activities you can do with your children at home. Go for a walk around block, take your dogs for a walk, draw on the sidewalk or in your driveway with chalk, create a scavenger hunt for things in your back yard, or even just eat your lunch outside. Getting out of the house is important, even if you don’t get to go very far.
There are also many resources available with ideas for cool lessons and activities you can do with your children at home.
Pinterest is a great website for finding interesting and easy activities and lessons to do with your children.
The homeschool scientist is a good website for finding interesting science experiments for all different types of sciences.
Yoga Journal is a website that has yoga exercises and online classes to help you move, relax, and de-stress.
After the morning meeting, students sit anxiously on the rug waiting for the teacher to call their name out so they can pick what center they are going to play at. The first student jumps up with enthusiasm and call outs “block center!”. The second student’s name is called and they shout out “cars!” with excitement. With a four person limit on the centers, they fill up quickly. Block center seems to fill up first, followed by the kitchen area and cars rug. A few students are left sitting on the rug, no longer anxiously waiting, but disappointed with their remaining options. Their names are called and they reluctantly walk to the sensory table or grab a table toy to play with, sometimes they may even be left with the writing center. As I observed the students who were left with the writing center, they mostly just played with magnet letters but without any direction from the teachers, and they did not seem to be learning anything. I took some time to reflect on these observations and I began thinking to myself, how much are the students actually learning through all this playing?
One research article I looked at proves that play is not only beneficial, but crucial to all areas of a child’s development. The article discusses how play is a fun way for students to explore the world around them and develop so many critical skills that they will use for the rest of their lives. Skills like communication with peers, critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, and imagination. According to another article I found, “Learning which is intrinsically motivated and involves investigation through real life situations has strong emotional value and meaning for the student”. Learning is a journey, and each student is going to move at a different pace along different paths, but in the end they have all discovered new knowledge that is meaningful to them.
After researching play during early childhood, I now have a new lens to look through when digging deeper into my observations. As I revisit my question from earlier, I now have the knowledge to pose an answer which is, simply put, Everything. Each interaction a child has between themself and their environment or peers, as insignificant as it may seem, has taught them something. As they play on the rug with the matchbox cars, they learn how to share, their gross motor skills develop, they think critically about how to build a ramp, and develop problem solving skills when they have to revisit their ramp design because it didn’t work the first time. When I think back and look closer at my play observations, I am able to think of so many specific skills and concepts that students are actually learning in all areas of their development, and I will definitely be taking a closer look at the future interactions I observe.
I have had so many great teachers from grade school all the way through high school and I’ve always admired how these teachers can change students lives. When I was in high school, I decided I wanted to look into becoming a teacher so I could be like these great teachers that I looked up to. I took a class where we got to spend the second half of our day in an elementary school classroom helping out and observing the classroom. This was probably the first experience that made me realize I was heading down the right career path, I loved it. Also, every placement I’ve ever had at Millersville has also reassured my confidence in my decision to be a teacher.
One of the main pedagogies that has shaped how I look at education is Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development and scaffolding. Looking back at my school experiences, the most boring classes were always the easiest, least challenging ones but on the other hand if a class was too difficult for me, I felt lost and gave up. This is why I feel like the zone of proximal development is so important in the classroom, and you can’t forget about the scaffolding component as well. Having your course designed to be slightly challenging for the students is great, but offer each student the support that they need, which could be different for each student. Another pedagogy that has shaped me is Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory. The theory looks at the relationships children have to people and communities at different levels based off of relevance. I think this is important to pay attention to this because not all of your students will live the same life outside of your classroom. All of the different factors such as families, churches, parent’s jobs, neighborhoods, etc. are going to be different for each student. It is important to figure these factors out so we can better understand our students and give them the resources they need to succeed.
All of my professors at Millersville have each taught me about different topics but they have also shared past experiences and their own knowledge which I appreciate and am thankful for. I’ve had a few professors who teach their college classes on the side but are still full time teachers during the day and I’ve learned a lot just by having conversations with them. I also learn from watching different ted talks by educators.
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