Out of her Shell
“Hello, my name is Tanasia Britch from Pre-k 114. We will now sing Dr. King,”
Tanasia exclaimed loud and clear for everyone, grades pre-k through two, to hear.
She did it! After a tough transition in the beginning of the year, Tanasia slowly began to participate in classroom activities without much encouragement from me or her peers. Moreover, rather than repeatedly crying and inquiring about the time of her mother’s return, she now focuses on a wide range of subjects including bears and cars. The more she shares with us in terms of her thoughts and interests, the better able I am to chart her academic growth. Her gradual progress culminated in her widely acclaimed introduction of our class performance during the school assembly commemorating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Her other accomplishments during the past two weeks include:
- Counting each of her friends for snack time in a clear and loud voice without skipping anyone;
- Identifying and chanting out the letters in the word "like" in our modeled morning message for the first time; and
- Choosing to read books to and with her friends rather than reading alone. Tanasia even encouraged her friend to read with her when she saw her friend crying.
As I reflect on her growth, I consider two major reasons for Ms. Morrison’s and my success with Tanasia:
- Student-Driven Instruction: We took the time to understand Tanasia's interests and provided opportunities for her to talk about and make things for her family. Our discussions at the rug, during lunch, and at choice time included plenty of open-ended questions which allowed Tanasia to speak openly about what was on her mind: her sisters, mother, father, and auntie. If the mouse ate cookies and asked for some milk, we learned about how happy Tanasia feels when she eats cookies and drinks milk with her sister at home. In addition, while Tanasia first hesitated to join her friends during choice time, she began to gravitate towards the Art and Writing areas once she learned that she could take home her finished products. Tanasia may have been physically separated from her family, but since she had the chance to talk about and make things for her siblings and parents, she still felt connected to them while in school; and
- Classroom Culture of High Expectations: We consistently responded to Tanasia’s crying with the expectation that she would eventually become more of an active and enthusiastic member of our classroom community. Rather than excuse her from class activities or call her family to pick her up, we taught her all of the routines and rules like the rest of the children. If she needed to cry when she first came in, she could, but she still needed to unpack, put her Math Homelink journal in the bin, wash her hands, and get her own breakfast.