Closing the Book!


                                                                Reflection Time!

As the semester comes to an end, so does my experience with this Research to Practice project. I have learned a lot about observation, questions, research, reflection and technology throughout this project. So now, let’s take a look back to some of my blog posts so we can experience the growth that was made as the semester progressed!


            As you know, throughout this semester I have been in a Head Start program. Every Tuesday I have had the privilege of making observations in the classroom that have been meaningful to what I have learned about child development. Through these observations in the Pre-K room I have been able to make a lot of connections to textbook readings and content that I have learned throughout many of my education courses at Millersville University. Although I have learned that a career in Pre-K is definitely not for me, it was interesting to observe what goes on prior to Kindergarten to prepare these eager young learners.


            The theme that guided my questions throughout this Research to Practice Project has been based on relationships. That is, the relationships between the students, the teacher and students, the students and their parents and the parents and the teacher. I questioned the how meaningful the interaction between teachers and students are and the value of parental involvement. These relationships are so valuable in education because education is a partnership among students, parents and teachers. My observations in this Head Start program guided my questions and strengthened my philosophy on the value of relationships.


            The questions I asked were meaningful to my educational philosophy so seeking research to support my thoughts and answer my questions was much easier than I had expected it to be. I typically dread research but my view on research has expanded and changed throughout this assignment. The research that I was finding was engaging and added an extra layer to my own thoughts. It was empowering to find research that supported my views and to incorporate this into my posts.


            I am constantly reflecting on my work, what I could do better and what I did well with. Although, I tend to focus more on what I could have done better. This project has been a challenge, but it is very rewarding to look back and see how I found my voice through thevarious blog posts that I did. I am excited that I successfully stuck to a theme to guide my questions and help me to grow and expand my educational philosophy.


            From the moment that I learned about the Research to Practice assignment, I knew that I would be most successful with creating blog posts. I have always loved reading and writing so this was the perfect opportunity to use these skills to relay information about my observations and questions throughout my field experience. I had never written a blog post before, but I was eager to learn, and I feel very accomplished with the skills that I gained and the voice that I found throughout my different posts.

Question Time!

If you were to experience the R2P project again, what would you do differently?

            If I were to experience the R2P project again, I would have maybe pushed myself to try a different platform. Although I am so pleased with the consistency of my blog posts, I wish I had branched out to try a video. I love writing and reading so a blog post felt like the perfect fit for me but as I thought about this question, I considered how education is constantly evolving and more often teachers are posting video messages for their students and parents. This assignment could have been a safe way for me to branch out of my comfort zone and experience creating a video post or other platforms that will be useful as a future educator.

What are you taking away to your future teaching practice from this R2P project?

            The most valuable thing that I am taking away from this R2P project to my future teaching practice would be the value of observation, questioning and reflection. These skills are so useful as an educator because we should constantly be making observations in our room, questioning the different practices that can be useful to teaching our students, and finally reflecting on the strengths and needs of our teaching practices.   

What advice would you give to the next ERCH496 students about the R2P project?

            The advice that I would give to future ERCH 496 students would be to take risks and not be afraid to begin this project! Begin the assignments early and to really value the observations that are made in field placement to guide the questions for this project. This project is so unique because every future educator has the ability to select their own questions that are meaningful to them, so I would also suggest seeking meaningful questions to help you expand your educational philosophy.

What advice would you give to Tatiana for the next iteration of the R2P project? 

            The advice that I would give to Tatiana in the future would be to require the research consultation earlier in the semester. I feel that her expertise could have been even more useful if I had met with her individually after my first or second post. I was thankful for the advice and examples that she provided the entire class during the sessions that she joined on Thursdays. I appreciated the amount of work that she put into this assignment, it was refreshing to have a project that could be unique and guided by our own questions and research rather than the traditional responding to a specific rubric!

The Value of Parental Involvement in Early Childhood Education

Observations in the Classroom

Over the past few weeks, I have spent my Tuesdays in a Head Start classroom. One thing that has caught my attention recently is considering parent involvement in early childhood classrooms. Specifically, I have noticed the teachers struggle with parent communication in the room. Students are constantly absent or late and the parents do not take the time to inform the educators in the room when this occurs. I have seen students being dropped off at the front of the building and the guardian drives away before signing their child in, as they are required to do. This constantly tugs at me because it makes me question the lack of care that parents have for their child’s education. And as we all know, communication between the school and parents is an essential component to a successful educational experience.

The most striking moment that really brought this subject into question was my experience with a young girl in this classroom who was intently drawing a picture. I noticed it was a drawing of a large figure and a small figure surrounded by toys and the larger figure was holding a square that was later identified as a phone. When it appeared that she was finishing up, I asked her to tell me about her drawing. To my surprise, the student told me that the image was of her mother being angry and her crying because her mom did not want to be bothered and she just wanted to play with her. This was shocking to me and stopped me in my tracks. In my experience with early childhood classroom, I have yet to see a family picture that was so detailed and upsetting. A distracted parent with a child desperate for play and attention.

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How do we promote parent involvement in the early childhood field?

All of these recent observations and experiences have called upon one main question, how do we promote parent involvement in the early childhood field? There is a fine line with this question because families are so busy in today’s world. The hours worked each week, the stress of relationships, the attention our technology receives daily and providing for our families have become a distraction from meaningful interaction and our children are paying the price for this. So, I went to the scholars to find support on the power of parental involvement in early childhood education and for meaningful ways to engage families in order to achieve this. I have found that parental involvement does not only affect the children’s emotions but also their success in schools. As educators, we must seek ways that will be effective in involving parents in their child’s education.

A valuable article that guided my research was, Multiple Dimensions of Family Involvement and Their Relations to Behavioral and Learning Competencies for Urban, Low-Income Children by John Fantuzzo. The research that was conducted through this article was actually completed with children and families that were apart of Head Start programs and found that home-based family involvement was actually the largest indicator of child outcome. This means that parental involvement in their child’s education served as a strong prediction for their child’s success in school. Parental involvement is measured by support at home, help and guidance with academics and by involvement in their school. This article supported my thoughts, observations and wonders. Children need support in their home as well as school in order to increase their desire to learn, their attention and ability to problem solve and persevere.

A valuable resource in the education field is The Cult of Pedagogy with the host, Jennifer Gonzalez. I looked into this website to find similar information about the value of parental involvement. The podcast that I listened to is Ten Ways Educators Can Take Action in Pursuit of Equity. A component to achieving this was building a partnership with parents based on shared interest. I appreciated this portion of the podcast because it talked about the relationship that a teacher and parent can have that is based on having the best interest of the child at heart and an understanding of one another. They discuss how parental involvement is frequently viewed as parents coming into the school to volunteer or participate in activities, but parental involvement is much more and begins with reaching the needs of their children in their home and supporting their children in the work that they do for school by checking with their child and the teacher to stay informed. This is definitely worth taking a listen to on the link below find out more about the value of parental involvement and it can be found at the fifth way to achieve equity in our schools.



            So how can we as educators support parental involvement so that our students feel supported in the classroom and at home? As an educator it is important to be understanding of the challenge’s families face in today’s world. We must establish a relationship with our parents that is based on respect and trust for one another in order to best meet the needs of the child. We must communicate with our families weekly to check in. Too often educators only reach out to parents to express concern for the child when we should be sharing positive thoughts and comments more often. We should ask parents to share their thoughts and concerns as well so that they feel that their insight and opinions matter and are valued. It is incredibly valuable to send home newsletters and personal notes to keep parents informed on what is going on in the classroom so that they feel involved. The most important step to building a bridge towards parental involvement in the classroom is open communication between the families and the teacher. It is incredibly valuable to a child’s education and well-being for parents to be involved in their academics. Parental involvement increases student success, social skills, problem solving abilities and interest in learning.

A valuable lesson to all is to take the time to slow down and enjoy the meaningful relationships with the people in our lives, despite how busy and exhausted we feel because our children are affected by the energy of all the adults in their lives. Building a relationship between their school and home lives will help to assist the encouragement and support that they feel daily.


Ma, X., Shen, J., Krenn, H., Hu, S., & Yuan, J. (2016). A Meta-Analysis of the Relationship Between Learning Outcomes and Parental Involvement During Early Childhood Education and Early Elementary Education. Educational Psychology Review28(4), 771–801.

Fantuzzo, J., McWayne, C., Perry, M. A., & Childs, S. (2004). Multiple Dimensions of Family Involvement and Their Relations to Behavioral and Learning Competencies for Urban, Low-Income Children. School Psychology Review33(4), 467–480. Retrieved from =ehost-live&scope=site

Building Relationships with Students

As a child, I can remember being incredibly excited to go to school, the main reason being that I would get to see my teacher. There was constant hugs and drawings given to the teacher from all of the students, followed by meaningful conversation. I recall having multiple opportunities throughout the day for one-on-one sharing with our teacher and whole group setting where each student could share important things happening in their lives that week. This was a major reason why I loved going to school so much, the relationship that I had with my teacher and the classroom community that she built by getting to know her students on a deeper level than just providing them with an education. There were rarely outbursts among individual students and I deeply credit this to the relationship that my past teachers nurtured between each of the students. So, I ask, how meaningful is the interaction between the teacher and the students?  Does the relationship between teachers and students have effects on successful learning and behavior?

My opinion of this concept strengthened after I began my experience at a Head Start program. Although, I have been viewing the opposite and more negative affect of a less strengthened relationship between the teachers and students. The children do not come to school excited to greet their teachers, they do not go to their teachers to talk about the new and exciting things happening in their lives and they do not invite their teachers to show them their work or what they are playing. During free time and free play, I notice that the two teachers in the room do not frequently sit down to inquire about what the students are working on or playing with. This period of time would be perfect to indulge in one-on-one conversations and give the teachers a deeper understanding about the students in their room, the interests that they have, how they play, and how they learn. Whole group setting would be another time to have students share information about themselves or discuss experiences that they have had in the classroom, which also does not occur. I feel very strongly that this is why the students may have more behavior problems, the students are not feeling engaged and understood which causes more conflict resulting in poor behavior. This saddens me that the students in my class may not feel understood or able to talk about their emotions, which is why I think they act out. They are not engaged because they are left to play in the exact same centers every day while their teachers work on other things around the room. They do not receive the individualized attention that they are most likely seeking. The students now look forward to the Tuesdays that my partner and I are in the classroom and when they have a problem, exciting news or an outburst, they always come to my partner and I, rather than the teachers.

I conducted research to inquire about the value of the relationship between teachers and students and what aspects of learning and behavior in the classroom that a positive or negative relationship can impact. Multiple research articles conveyed the same message through many different forms of research, the relationship between students and the teacher is incredibly significant and crucial to a successful learning environment. Although the field of early childhood education has evolved an incredible amount since the time that I was in elementary school, the desired relationship that students would like to have with their teacher has not changed. The research conducted discussed the effects of engagement, behavior and academic achievement which is many aspects that will impact a student in the classroom representing the importance and value of the relationship developed between teachers and students. To see first-hand and learn more about the strong impact of the value of a relationship between the student and teacher, you can watch this video.

The Power of Relationships in Schools

Research shows that students who feel safe and supported by adults at school are better able to learn. Our How Learning Happens video series explores teaching practices grounded in the science of learning and human development.


In past experiences of field and my own memories, I have witnessed the opposite of this and I have seen the value that a strong relationship between the student and teachers will bring to the student in many aspects of the classroom. When a student has a strong relationship with their teacher they will enjoy going to school, be more engaged in conversations and learning new topics and subjects, their behavior will be more positive than a student that does not have a relationship with their teacher. Which is why I strongly believe that the relationship that the teacher nurtures between each of their students will have a strong impact on student success in all aspects of the classroom environment. At this point in my observation and research, I reach out to my readers to ask for suggestions on ways to develop stronger relationships in the classroom with students that are more difficult to reach? As well as how to develop deeper relationships with students after months of school have already passed by?


Claessens, L. C. A., van Tartwijk, J., van der Want, A. C., Pennings, H. J. M., Verloop, N., den Brok, P. J., & Wubbels, T. (2017). Positive teacher–student relationships go beyond the classroom; problematic ones stay inside. Journal of Educational Research110(5), 478–493.   


Lippard, C. N., La Paro, K. M., Rouse, H. L., & Crosby, D. A. (2018). A Closer Look at Teacher–Child Relationships and Classroom Emotional Context in Preschool. Child & Youth Care Forum47(1), 1–21.


Archambault, I., Vandenbossche-Makombo, J., & Fraser, S. (2017). Students’ Oppositional Behaviors and Engagement in School: The Differential Role of the Student-Teacher Relationship. Journal of     Child & Family Studies26(6), 1702–1712.


Who are you gurus?

Aspiring Educator 

Who reassures and stretches you as an early childhood educator?

The people that reassure and stretch me as an early childhood educator are my past teachers and teachers that I have interned with and learned from through their experiences. I have fond memories of my experience as a student in elementary school. The teachers that have made such an impact on my life are Mrs. Crist, Mrs. Henderson, and Mrs. Leonard. These are the teachers that made my education enjoyable and engaging. I had a difficult time going to school as a child because I had such severe separation anxiety when being away from home. These teachers that I mentioned went above and beyond to build a relationship with me that made me more comfortable at school. They would attend my soccer games, make time to talk to me individually and even invited my mom to volunteer in the classroom. To this day I keep in touch with these teachers because they completely changed my educational experience. My fifth-grade teacher Mrs. Crist actually has a letter from me that I wrote when I was in fifth-grade that she has hung on her personal bulletin board that says, “I have always wanted to be a teacher but now I want to be a teacher just like Mrs. Crist.” She continues to reassure me as a future educator. I have volunteered in all of their classrooms throughout the years to observe the ways that they still are changing students’ lives in their classroom by showing an interest in the child as a whole rather than just working to educate them.  These educators inspired me to become a teacher to make an impact in children’s lives in the way that they have impacted mine.


Whose pedagogies are shaping your path?

Throughout my experience at Millersville University, all of my professors’ pedagogies have begun to shape my path as a future educator. I really feel that I have received a very rich experience at Millersville because I have been taught by so many professors with such great experiences and different views. Dr. Bower has made a strong impact on my educational path because he shared so many methods and ideas for how to incorporate technology into the classroom in a purposeful way. His class was so meaningful to me because he is a current teacher, so he was able to share his experiences from his week and the ways he adapted to make a difference for students. He shared the true meaning of differentiation and provided so many examples for unique ways to reach all of your students’ needs and potential. As a STEM minor, he really helped to guide me with his methods of how to make projects come to life for students so that they can show their knowledge in a way that best meets their own learning needs. All of my professors have so much experience in the early childhood field, from teacher, preschool director, principal, ELL teacher, and special education teacher, I have been provided with so many perspectives and philosophies that I strongly believe in.


Who is teaching you about the Why and the How in the field of early childhood education?

Someone that teaches me about the why and how in the field of early childhood education is Cristi Edwards. She is great friends with my mom and I babysit for her family. She has a lot of experience in the field as she has taught many grades in public school, ranging from kindergarten to sixth-grade but also worked in a preschool for many years as well. She now has a certification in special education, so she has a cotaught classroom. She has 16 years of teaching experience and has worked in many roles. She is able to discuss with me how education is changing and what would be best to do in order to adapt to the changes. She is someone that is not afraid to take risks and make mistakes in order to try something new that could be beneficial to her students. When I design a lesson for assignments throughout my time in college, I typically go to her for advice on whether or not it is developmentally appropriate for the age group and what I can do to differentiate because she has so much knowledge from the many grade levels that she has taught and on how to differentiate. She has definitely helped to shape me as a future educator by always providing feedback and insight on the why and how of early childhood education.


Who speaks truth to you? Shares new insights with you?

My mom is an elementary school teacher and she is always striving to learn more and be the best teacher that she can be. She is the most inspiring person in my life because she lifts everyone around her and helps them to reach their highest potential. The relationships that she builds with her students are incredible, her past students and parents reach out through emails very often to thank her for everything that she did for them. This past year, her school district put together a video of multiple students from graduating class and each thanked a teacher that impacted them the most and so many students talked about the impact she had on them. She is a phenomenal teacher, when I observe her class it is so engaging, all the students are involved, and each lesson has been differentiated to meet their individual needs.

My mom also keeps it real with me. She tells me how challenging it truly is to be an exceptional teacher that reaches each student in a purposeful and impactful way, but it is the most rewarding career that you could have. We are always discussing different practices in the classroom, specifically STEM because my mom continues to challenge her own practices to expand her lessons to become even more engaging.