A Trip Down Memory Lane

Hey guys, welcome to my last R2P post.  This has been a long road and in this post we will be reflecting on how we got here.


As you all know, for the past couple months we have been observing in Headstart classrooms.  I’ve learned a lot of things, some positive and some negative.  I’ve learned how to discipline and redirect kids in a way that isn’t angry.  I’ve learned that you can tell them what they’ve done wrong and that they’ve made you sad or angry without raising your voice at them.  I can certainly retain this for my future teaching positions, and I’ve even implemented it in my current job.  If I ever have this experience again, I would definitely create a lesson plan to implement in the class, and I might actually do so for the last day of placement in two weeks if the head teacher is okay with it.  This experience has reaffirmed my belief that I will not be teaching in a daycare setting once I graduate.  Honestly I work in one now and I love it but when it comes to having my degree and being the teacher in charge, I want to be teaching kids that can learn things that are way more complicated than the ABCs and their colors.  By far the best thing that I’ve observed throughout my whole placement is the focus on books in this classroom.  I even did a whole R2P post on this very topic: https://anchor.fm/dashboard/episode/e6e89t.


As soon as I witnessed all of the reading in my Headstart classroom, I knew that I wanted to write about it.  The one issue with that post was that I didn’t actually pose a question.  I just stated a bunch of observations, anecdotes from my childhood, and research.  I could’ve said something as simple as, “Does reading to children every day help their development?” but I was so focused on my observations that I honestly just forgot about the question part of it.  When we did our group post about the IRP we also almost forgot a question.  My group was planning our activities out in class and we knew that we wanted to talk about the four seasons, but we realized that we didn’t have a legitimate question.  Once we came up with our question, we had to change some activities because we realized that they didn’t quite align with it.  When it was time for the last individual R2P post, I had this question thing totally covered.  I wrote about the use of colorful positive reminders in the classroom.  I wanted to know if it was helpful at all to a student’s development. (https://blogs.millersville.edu/kyra/2019/11/14/oozing-off-the-walls-but-does-it-matter/)


I’ve known how to use the database for a few years now, so I felt like that was pretty simple.  I definitely liked that Tatiana made a video about it for us though because I know that not everyone knows how to use it.  The issue that I had was that I am not great at knowing how to read scholarly articles.  I find them hard to understand.  I remember watching a video (although I can’t remember if it was for this class or not) that taught about how to read a scholarly article.  It talked about reading the abstract first and where to continue to if the abstract interests you.  I think I need to watch more videos like that to help teach me how to read these types of articles.


Two things were very difficult for me throughout this semester.  One thing that was difficult was the fact that we observed the exact same time slot every single week.  By the last few times it just got so repetitive that I was beginning to dread going there.  I hated feeling that way, but I just wasn’t witnessing anything different.  I wish that I could’ve witnessed another time slot at least once, but my work schedule didn’t allow that.  The hardest thing for me was knowing when to step in and when to just observe.  On the first day the other Millersville student and I were told that we could discipline the kids and the kids were told that they needed to treat us as a teacher and listen to us.  However, as the weeks went by I began to learn that this wasn’t really true.  If I told a child to sit out for misbehaving when we were outside, the teachers would stare at me as if I was stepping on their toes.  I decided then that I would try to cut back on the comments I made in terms of discipline.  I would tell the child what they did wrong, but I wouldn’t tell them to sit out.  I had so much anxiety though.  I was so worried that the teachers would still be upset with me for saying anything at all.  However, sometimes when I would do nothing but observe, I would also feel anxious because I was worried that I wasn’t doing enough.  I felt like I was taking up space in the classroom and not even helping the teacher at all.


I really enjoyed trying out all of the different technologies that were offered for this project.  I used each one of them (podcast, blog, and Youtube video) at least once.  However, I have two regrets.  The first regret is that I only used a Youtube video for our group IRP post and we only did that because it seemed the easiest since it was a group project.  If I did this project again I would do a Youtube video for one of my individual posts.  My second regret is that I felt safe doing a blog so I stuck to that.  I should’ve taken more risks so that I could become as confident in other technologies as I feel in blogging.

Answering questions for the future…

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

If I were to experience the R2P project again, I would just be more confident.  I would do more videos instead of hiding behind a blog.  I would ask the teachers in the classroom what they expected from me and if I had concerns I would be confident enough to speak up instead of just silently worrying to myself.

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

I’m taking away the knowledge that if I have a question about something happening in my classroom, I know how to research it.  I’m also taking away the fact that it is okay to have questions about teaching, even if it is your own teaching.  As a matter of fact, I think it’s great to question your own teaching because that’s how you grow and improve.  I think the most important thing is that we need to reflect on our own teaching or else we will never learn anything new.

What advice would you give to the next ERCH496 students about the R2P project?  What advice would you give to Tatiana for the next iteration of the R2P project?

Future ERCH 496 students, please don’t be lazy.  That was my biggest problem during this project.  I always waited until the night that the post was due to complete it.  I was usually tired when I did these posts because I would do them after work and therefore didn’t put as much effort into them as I could’ve and should’ve.  I promise that you will get so much more out of it if you try your best.

First of all, I would just like to say that Tatiana did an amazing job.  I was so beyond impressed that she took on this project with us on top of her regular job in the library.  I’m so thankful for her and how helpful she has been.  Thank you, Tatiana.  If I were to suggest one thing, it would be to offer future students an option to come up with their own technologies to use, even if it’s just for one post.  For example, maybe somebody wants to branch out and try to create a post using Instagram.  They could post a picture or two that relates to their topic and their post could be the caption.  I think that would be a really cool way to expand the R2P project and it would allow future students to feel like they could add their own personal touch on it.

Thanks for reading my blog this semester everybody.  I’m just going to leave you with this well wish;

Oozing off the walls, but does it matter?

Color.  Color everywhere.  Not a blank wall.  Positivity is oozing off of the walls in this classroom.  Positive reminders.  Rewards.  Encouragements.  Everywhere you look, some colorful decoration in this classroom is reminding students to be the best version of themselves.  From a reward system for doing nice things, to a reminder that the students can be anyone that they want to be, there is no shortage of positive feedback in this room.  It’s amazing to see that good skills and self-esteem are attempting to be built up in children this young, but my question is; Is decorating a classroom like this actually effective for their development or does it make no difference whatsoever? 


The first scholarly article that I read was titled Bad Signs and written by Alfie Kohn.  I thought that this article was interesting because it was posted in an academic journal, however it read like an opinion piece.  It talked about decorations in classrooms that are meant to be inspirational and promote a positive classroom environment.  While it didn’t specifically mention any of the posters in my Head-start classroom, I found that it took on an interesting aspect to positive decorations in classrooms.  I got two things out of this article.  The first thing is that when teachers have posters hung up that say things such as “Only positive attitudes beyond this point”, it says to the students that their mental health doesn’t necessarily matter.  If you ask me, that’s a bit extreme.  However, I do see where the author is going with this train of thought.  Maybe a student is having a bad day and just can’t find the energy to have a positive attitude.  Maybe they’re just sad.  They should feel safe enough in their classroom to show that and not have to fake a positive attitude.  On the other hand, just because a classroom has a poster like that hung up, it doesn’t mean that children are automatically going to feel like they have to fake a positive attitude.  It’s all about how the teacher makes them feel.  If the teacher makes them feel safe, they will feel free to be themselves.

The second thing that I got out of this article is that instead of generalized inspirational posters being hung up in the classroom, the students’ artwork and projects should be displayed.  Generalized inspirational posters tend to cause unrealistic expectations to be placed upon students, such as, “You’re going to be valedictorian.” or “You’re going to get into an Ivy League school.”  Not to mention, there’s nothing personal about these posters.  The classroom environment should show that the teacher knows her students.  It should not feature posters that you could find plastered in every workplace all across America.

I honestly couldn’t find another scholarly article that relates to my question.  I’m really bummed because I’m really interested in this topic and I would love to know if there has ever been any research done on it.  If there isn’t any research done on it, I would love to do some myself.  My research study would consist of eight classrooms.  Four of them would have positive posters all over their classroom.  Four of them would have nothing.  The teachers would implement a curriculum based on positively processing emotions.  The study would go on for a month.  At the end of the month I would see if the emotional development and self-esteem of the students in the classrooms with the positive posters was any different than the classrooms without it.  This way I would be able to figure out whether posters make any difference or if it is all in the teaching.  However, I don’t think that I would ever be able to get an accurate representation because there’s always going to be the variable of the teachers.  Maybe some teachers don’t like the idea of teaching about emotions so they just decide they won’t do it.  Maybe some teachers attempt to teach about emotions, but they always have an angry disposition that makes the kids feel unsafe.  There would be no way to make sure that every teacher is acting the exact same every second of everyday because that would be crazy.

For now I suppose that I will just have to speculate as to if the use of positive posters matters or not.  I would love to hear your opinions about it though, so feel free to leave your comments down below!


Teach Like Your Hair’s On Fire (R2P Post 1)

“As someone who is on the front lines every day, I am well aware that getting kids to behave is one of the toughest jobs in the world.  We’re all working way too many hours, and if a homework chart with gold stars gets kids to do their work, that’s good enough for many. But it is no longer good enough for me.  I think we can all do better.” (Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire, Rafe Esquith, page 17) I was assigned to read this book 3 years ago in a 200 level education psych class at HACC.  We were going to have weekly discussions about it and I was not at all excited. I figured it was just another boring book to be added to my course load. But when I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down.  It was as if everything I ever hoped to be as a teacher was written down in a book, and here was this advice right in front of me to help me reach my goals. Rafe writes about how to make his students feel safe and trusted in the classroom environment and he really strives to make sure that his students enjoy learning.  

To understand what got me to this point, we have to start from the beginning.  When I was 6 years old my mom was offered a job as an assistant teacher at a preschool.  She had this job until I was a sophomore in high school. Throughout that time, I spent every book fair night, every sick day, every day off school, and every summer in that preschool.  I practically grew up there alongside the kids. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to continue working with kids for the rest of my life. I may have been too young to remember much about the teaching styles that were used at this preschool, but it is an important part of my story because it led me to the path I’m on today.

 The most memorable and inspiring teacher that I’ve had to this day was my first grade teacher, Mrs. Miller.  She taught us that everyone is different and that’s okay. She was the most accepting and happiest person that I’ve ever met.  She had our classmate’s deaf mother come in and teach us some beginner sign language. We asked the mother questions and it was a very honest and safe environment.  To this day I still remember the sign language alphabet because of that lesson. Mrs. Miller taught us life skills too. There was a garden across the street from our school and she used it to teach us how to grow vegetables.  She invited our parents to join us in growing and harvesting these vegetables. I realize now as I’m recalling all these memories, that this is the most open and diverse classroom environment that I have ever had. She made everyone feel loved, cared for, and like they were part of a community.  She is all I aspire to be. Now that I know how difficult it can be for teachers to reach this level, it is shocking to me that she did it with such ease.   

There are many values that I want to instill in my future students.  The most important thing to me is that my students feel safe in the classroom.  I want them to know that I accept them and that they can feel free to be themselves.  I also want my students’ families to be involved in the classroom. I want my kids to be exposed to many different cultures.  I also want them to know that they can trust me and that they can tell me anything. I just want them to feel safe and loved.   

The research article that I chose is called “Giving Beyond Care: An Exploration of Love in the Classroom” by Kevin Cloninger.  I chose this article because I believe that students will not care about or want to do well in school if they do not feel cared for and appreciated by their teachers.  It is our job to realize that students are real people who have feelings. They want to feel safe and accepted as much as the next person. I’m going to leave you with this, “The obvious and recurrent criticism regarding the role of empathy in the classroom is that such ideas are “touchy feely,” “soft,” or “overly sensitive.”  Indeed the criticism is not only misguided but naive, for it is precisely such an approach that is missing from so many learning environments across the country.”

Cloninger, K. (2008). Giving Beyond Care: An Exploration of Love in the Classroom. Curriculum and Teaching Dialogue, 10.

Esquith, R. (2007). Teach like your hairs on fire the methods and madness inside room 56. New York: Viking.