During play time, a student came to me upset and almost in tears because she felt that she was a very bad friend to her classmates. She talked about how others don’t like her because she gets bossy and possessive of her play area, toys, and other friends. I’ve witnessed her act in such ways at times but I was so surprised she was acknowledging it with me- at that moment, I knew that it was because her behavior has reached a point where it was severely affecting her interaction with others. After listening to her describing her mean acts and her fears of not having any friends, I was struck by the pure honesty of the conversation. It is truly inspiring to see the level of emotional and social awareness children possess at such a young age. This child was deeply concerned about her actions and their consequences on her friendships and self-image. While it felt amazing to have her open up to me, especially as one of the more difficult students in the class, I knew it was important for me to respond and help her. I told her sometimes, even if you don’t mean to be bad to a friend, the way you say things can make a huge difference. I used the incidents she told me and asked her how she could have said things in a kinder way, even if she didn’t intend to be mean. It felt so good to see her understand how important it is to think before you speak and agree with my advice. The best part about our conversation was when she got up and wanted to apologize to someone she was mean to. I told her that would be such a good thing to do! An apology would help make that person and herself feel better but she took me by surprise again when she replied with fear that he might be mean to her in response. At this point, I was just amazed by how developed this child’s social thinking is. All of it just reminded me of the many instances when I myself as an adult know I have done wrong and avoid correcting it because it appears to be the harder thing to do. I was compelled to really help this student and further advised her how sometimes, doing the right thing isn’t always the easiest thing, but what’s important is that you tried. She ended up approaching a friend she was mean to and apologized- even though he did not respond to her apology as expected, I felt so fulfilled and happy to just see her smile and say “I did my part and said sorry, even if he said he didn’t care, I feel so much better”. This was definitely a success moment for me that I know I’ll always remember
Today, I got to read two stories to the morning kindergarten class about eating healthy foods. My TA usually reads the children a story while they eat their snacks and I’ve always noticed the different types of food they bring. Ever since my first day, I was happy to see a majority of the children snacking on plenty of fruits, vegetables, and grains. Of course, they also have treats such as candy or chocolate from time to time but overall, snacks in class have been pleasingly healthy. The stories I read simply explained which foods are good and which shouldn’t been eaten everyday according to the food guide pyramid. I then led a little “discussion” at the end where the children made comments and asked questions. Being in front of the class and addressing 10 raised hands at a time was quite an experience for me- I learned how to pick out students at the right time, listen attentively, and provide an appropriate response. Some students would talk about a completely unrelated thing while some would even wait to be called on. However, for each student who raised their hand, I was thankful I was learning how to be adaptive, thoughtful, and firm in my manner and responses. I highly enjoyed story time today because the topic of healthy eating is so important- I think it’s great how my TA teaches them the value of a healthy lifestyle at such a young age and exemplifies it herself. She brought wheat grains for the children to taste and showed us how to make cream cheese out of yogurt using a coffee filter. She explained how when yogurt is filtered, whey is produced which is good for their growing muscles as protein. Ms. Beeksma has made eating healthy very fun for the children with activities such as keeping track of all the different colors of fruits and vegetables that they eat. “Eating the Rainbow” is such great way for kids to develop healthy habits right away and I’m glad to be a part of it!
One of my many positive experiences so far in my practicum is simply getting to know each student on an academic and personal level. I’ve been able to engage with the children by listening to each of them read a few pages of a story to me. This not only gives me an indication of their reading level, but most importantly, their interests, background, and little quirks. Each child reads a book that they choose from the library and it is always a delight to see them pick out things that they are genuinely interested in or would like to learn more about. Even though they would stumble on some words, I can see their determination to complete the difficult sentence and finish the story which illustrates how they are not only “learning to read” but “reading to learn”. Such eagerness and enthusiasm at a young age simply inspires me to become the best teacher that I can be.
Another hit so far is seeing how creative and individual each child is in their work or task. I saw this when I led a duck-sketching activity with the class. Each child was provided with paper, pencil, a sketch board, and two real ducklings that the school took care of. At first, I was quite nervous leading this activity without my TA but she encouraged me to step up to the task. To my surprise, after giving the instructions, the children set off to work on their individual masterpieces excitedly. It was such a positive experience seeing their different creative abilities and artistic strengths! I want to always be a part of that development and celebrate each child’s talent and uniqueness.
A big hit in my practicum so far is working with such an exceptional TA. I am truly privileged to be working with an extraordinary teacher who always goes the extra mile for her students. Ms. Beeksma demonstrates tremendous patience and care for each child in her classroom and dedicates herself fully to their learning and development. She has also shown me how important it is to develop and maintain teacher-student-parent relationships by having consistent parent volunteers in the classroom and by taking time to chat with the childrens’ parents/guardians at the end of the day. Her dedication and patience are definitely characteristics I strive to develop in my personal journey towards teaching.
One less than positive experience for me is witnessing two students fight without any teachers around. This occurred at the end of the school day and I unfortunately wasn’t sure how to react. I walked towards them and thankfully, my presence was enough to break them apart. I stayed around to see that they wouldn’t continue fighting and made sure they left in their separate ways before I left. This incident really opened my eyes to the challenges of being a teacher outside of the classroom, even after school hours. I am thankful that I was able to experience this though because I was able to learn from it and develop my skills in handling such situations in the future.
Something that really stood out to me on my first day with the morning and afternoon kindergarten classes is how creative my TA is with teaching the letters of the Alphabet for kids to put words together. Upon being introduced to the class as Ms. Abella, my TA used gestures and actions to represent the letters of my name. For example, the ’A’ in Abella was represented by holding up an imaginary apple to their mouth and making the sound ‘AH’. It was such an interactive and fun way for kids to learn how to put words together and enunciate. Another part of this activity was the pictures my TA drew as visual representations of the letters- The letter S on the board was drawn as a snake for kids to make the ‘Ssss’ sound association. To put it all together, my TA wrote a note to the class that said: “Dear Class, it is so nice to welcome Ms. Abella to our classroom. Love, Ms. Beeksma” on the board. The kids raised their hands and got to choose a letter from the entire note to enact/draw together. I can see how this technique has helped the kids tremendously in their reading since most of them are very strong and expressive readers.
I truly enjoyed my first day! I had my “absolutely! I would love to!” moment when my TA asked me to read a story to the class. I was very surprised with how attentive and empathetic they were to the characters and the action in the story. I did not expect to meet TWO kindergarten classes since there was a morning class and an afternoon class- but that just made it double the more fun I got to eat lunch with the other teachers in the staff room as well and it was so interesting to hear about their journeys as teachers- Definitely look forward to tomorrow!