ECE Field Experience
Thursday, January 29, 2004
Yesterday was too cold to take the kids outside, so we played inside for 2 hours rather than 1. I measured the kids and played with them. I read a couple of stories before lunch time. At lunch the table I was sitting at were making farting sounds and being generally rude, despite my warnings. Dallas was spitting food, as was John'necia. The kids were all restless going down for nap because they hadn't been able to burn off their energy. I managed to interview Ms. Young for my exceptional children paper. That's the day in a nutshell!
Wednesday, January 21, 2004
Today was my first day of placement. I wish I could say that it was pleasant, but that would be a lie.

Upon arriving at Sheltering Arms, I discovered that the assistant director did not know that we were going to be interning there. We each remember the name that had been put next to ours on our placement sheet, and they placed us according to that. The teacher that I had been assigned to was not a Pre-Kindergarten teacher. She was a preschool teacher. I was expecting to be placed in a Pre-Kindergarten classroom rather than a Preschool classroom. The children in the class were too young to be in Pre-Kindergarten. They ranged in age from 3 - 4.5. This is the classroom for children who would not be going to Pre-Kindergarten until September.

I did not say anything about this to the people at the center, because I was not sure if this was a mistake or if my teachers intended for me to be placed in a Preschool classroom rather than a Pre-Kindergarten classroom.

My supervising teacher is Mrs. Young. She was more than happy to have an extra body in her classroom. There were 17 children in the classroom today. Mrs. Young introduced me to the children and made it clear to them that I am also their teacher and that they should listen to me when I tell them to do something. She then continued with her Circle Time. Whilst she was singing songs, two of the boys were playing around, making fart sounds with their mouths. She tried to discipline them at the expense of singing the song. She did not give them consistent reprimands. She would get upset with them for making the sounds, but then ignore their sounds for a minute or two before reprimanding them again, rather than reprimanding them as soon as they made a sound. In my experience, this shows the children that they can get away with it for at least a minute before they get a mild reprimand.

The songs which Mrs. Young sang were very nice songs. Many of them featuring this fortnight's theme of Bears. It was obvious that most of the children loved the selection. After the songs were finished, the children fetched their jackets and we took them outside for about 15 minutes. It was approximately 35F outside, which I found rather pleasant especially since I was wearing a new thick sweater which insulated me rather well. I left my jacket at home. I pushed a couple of the children on the swings and spoke to the other volunteers a little bit. When the time came for them to go inside, I hounded some of the children to get to the door. One of the children who had been making sounds during circle time was not at all interested in going inside. I followed him around the playground, telling him to line up to go inside. Eventually I snapped. I had just told him to go and line up, and he turned around to climb back on the jungle gym. So I turned him around and told him that I wasn't happy and that it was time to go inside. So he spat in my face. Mrs. Young was shocked about this. I think she appologised to me at least 5 times. I told her not to worry because this was not the worst thing that has happened to me in child care [I had another child kick and punch me]. She put the child in a chair whilst she had another Circle Time. This circle time was focussed on bears and the letter B. After the circle time she told the children to "check in" to centers. If too many children were trying to "Check in" to one center, she told them to "check out" of their current center and "check in" to another center. This system seemed to be decently efficient. The children floated from one center to another during this time. The mother of the child who spat in my face arrived to take her child home. She made him appologise to me and appologised to me herself.

After center time, the children gathered on the circle time carpet again where Mrs. Young asked me if I could read a book to the students. I read them four books. Most of the children were very good about sitting quietly. Today was the first time that I really observed a difference in conversation styles between African American and Caucasian children. All of the children at this center are African American. It has been said that most African Americans speak around a topic. They tell a story related to the topic. Whereas Caucasians get to the point faster. Both conversation styles are valid. I was not expecting to experience this difference today. The center where I usually teach is predominantly Caucasian. They are students whom you can ask about something in a book and expect a short answer. The students in Mrs. Young's class all wanted to tell me stories about the topic at hand. I started off asking slightly open-ended questions, but soon stopped that. After I was done reading, Mrs. Young asked the children which book was their favorite. Most of them decided that Goldilocks and the Three Bears was their favorite. I don't know if this was linked to the voices I made [the father bear had a deep, almost booming voice, the mother had a voice somewhat similar to mine, and the baby had a decently high pitched squeaky voice], or if it was because of the story itself.

After story time it was lunch time. At the school where I usually teach, we are required to wear gloves to serve food. However, this center did not provide gloves to serve food. I helped to serve some of the meat [Mrs. Young called them Patties -- they were Salisbury Steaks]. The children used the bathrooms and then lay down for nap. I helped to cover them up and remind them to put their heads down. I then spoke to Mrs. Young. I gave her the informational packet I was asked to give her. I briefly spoke about a couple of the highlights in the packet with her. I also expressed my apprehension about being in a preschool classroom rather than a Pre-K classroom. She tried to tell me that her classroom was practically Pre-K, although I could see some differences, especially developmentally in the children. I did not pursue the topic but just let it rest.

This evening I e-mailed my cohort teacher [I called both of them, but neither were answering]. We spoke about the issue and she has told me that it was not a mistake to place me in a preschool classroom. I told her that I have experience with this age children already and do not think that I would benefit from a preschool classroom as much as I would benefit from a PreK classroom. She has told me that I may try to switch placements with someone. She has also given me the name of someone in my class who wants to be in a center where there are other students as she is the only GSU student in her center. I have e-mailed her explaining the situation and offering to switch with her if it suits her. I would ideally like to stay at the center I'm placed in at the moment, but I don't think that will be possible. Besides, if two of us can be helped, then I don't see why not. I'll just have to drive further.

Thus ends the first day.

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