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February 25, 2009

Making Connections

I had the amazing opportunity to travel to New Orleans, Louisiana this past week.  I am a part of a small organization called World Beat Connection.  Our mission is to connect with people from other cultures and promote peace and justice through music.  Throughout the week we played a total of 14 gigs, mostly at elementary schools.  What an experience!  From the moment we started playing, I knew this was going to be a life-changing week. 


I have done many service projects before, but this one, in particular, helped to reaffirm that our world thrives on making positive and meaningful connections through shared experiences.  So, as I reflect on the week, I know that my classroom will forever be my ongoing life’s mission.  My commitment to educating and supporting four and five year-olds is based on creating a safe and accepting community.  I try my best to teach tolerance, social justice and service to others.  We do this through our everyday classroom expectations, cultural lessons, specific social and behavioral lessons and a wide variety of great literature.                                                                            

This past month we have been talking about friendship.  I created specific lessons to help my students learn the language to use to create good friendships.  I have learned that this strategy is great for english language learners.  But, more importantly, it reminds me that I can't assume my students have seen positive interactions outside of our school day.  This gives everyone a chance to observe, practice and use these skills in real situations.  

     We practiced some of the following:  

        - introducing yourself: "Hi!  My name is ____________.  What is your name?"

        - making conversation/getting to know a friend:  "How are you?  What do you like to play with?"

        - asking a friend to play:  "Will you play _________ with me?"

        - how to tell a friend you do not want to play:  "No thanks.  Thanks for asking!"


My students used these skills to work together on an art project.  They had to ask a friend to help them trace their body and then helped each other decorate their life size tracings.  It was great to see and hear some of the cooperation and friendships among my students!


As a pre-k teacher, I have the opportunity to foster positive and meaningful connections among my students and their families.  We share our hopes and dreams and invite families to share their cultural heritage with our class.  It takes effort, flexibility and a genuine interest in people--all people.  This commitment to help our children to be thoughtful and caring people will make our homes, schools, neighborhoods, country and world a better place.    


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