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December 05, 2006

Class, Say "Hello" to Our Special Guest... the Blogosphere

Welcome to Inside Pre-K and thanks for visiting! On this blog, you can read about what's going on, day to day, in a real pre-kindergarten classroom, namely my own. I'll be your host/blogger, Sophia (a.k.a. Ms. Pappas). You can learn a lot about me here, but today I want to introduce you to a few of the 14 amazing four year olds in my class this year. You'll soon meet them all. (Note: Their names have been changed to protect their privacy and security.)

  • Tyrone - or Doctor Smith, as we call him in Dramatic Play - has a strong foundation in basic literacy knowledge, but he was not very invested in the class at the beginning of the year. His attention span was shorter than most of the children during circle time, and he was often sitting and looking around the room, not participating with the other children or listening to me. He is showing improvement, though, and has since responded positively to activities like singing songs about his classmates and more hands-on tasks.
  • Kevin came to school with a strong math and literacy foundation. He picks up on new academic concepts quickly and constantly participates in class activities. Socially, however, he has struggled and frequently cries when he does not get picked for something or has to wait his turn. He is the only child in his household, which may account for some of the difficulties.
  • Karen arrived in my class with a strong academic foundation, but until coming to school she did not have much contact with other children. She had been only around adults for most of her early years and initially displayed a hesitance to interact with the other children. From day one, she has followed directions and been focused and actively engaged in whole group activities. She has made real progress since September in smaller group interaction and now frequently reads, shares, and plays with her classmates.

I also am fortunate to have a teacher's aide, Ms. Morrison, who has been working with young learners for more than 20 years. Her experience is very helpful to me, and so is yours. Whether you're an educator by profession, a child's first teacher (a.k.a. a parent/guardian), or just curious about pre-k, I hope you will comment on this blog and tell me and other readers your thoughts and questions about pre-k.

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Comments

Hi Sophia,

You sound like a great PK teacher. I am partial to PK teachers because I was one for 16 years. The best years of my life.
Things are different now a days in schools but the reward you get from working with 4 year olds never changes.
Keep up the good work.
yolanda

Dear Sophia,

I am an independent children's literacy consultant who works with PreK teachers and students in the Southeast. Thanks for opening up your world to us to share. I look forward tolearning and sharing.

Yolanda and Cathy,

Thanks for your interest in the blog. I look forward to opening an ongoing dialogue with you and others.

hi sophia,

i read your blog and thought wow, great,but i have to say when i got to the part where the kids would stay on purple i thought hey now, if this is a high quaility program surly they would know that behavior systems are not DAP for pre-schoolers..... that really dissapointed me.... cathy

Kudos to you Sophia! I am a Preschool Coordinator in Georgetown, TX. You and your TA sound like phenominal teachers. I can't tell you how important I feel a quality Pre-K experience is in preparing young children for Kindergarten. Keep up the good work. Hilda

Cathy W,

Thanks for your interest in the blog and for an alternative point of view.

I think behavior systems can be either appropriate or inappropriate depending on how they are implemented. I think having a visual associated with behavior can help four year olds understand choices and consequences. Teachers may abuse this approach by using it as a way to judge or embarrass students in front of their peers. But I use it to emphasize student progress and, perhaps more importantly, the chance to improve behavior once you have dropped down on the color chart. Starting on green everyday represents starting fresh. We constantly message the idea that, "We all make mistakes. But we can think about our actions and do better next time." We also take time out to celebrate children who have improved, whereas when I am moving students down the chart I just move the card and move on. Moreover, the cards are not the only part of my behavior plan. We take time to talk through our problems using I- statements and self-talk such as "I think I can," "Oh well, I'll get picked another time," and "We don't say oooooh. We fix the problem." We use role-plays and stories to discuss social skills both pro actively and as conflicts arise. The color card chart is ,therefore, just one part of a larger management and culture system focused on positive reinforcement, consistency, mutual peer support, self-motivation, and developing an understanding of choices and consequences.

Sophia

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