Friday Two Cents: This Above All: To Thine Own Self Be True


This week started off pretty bleak. Not just from the weather, though I think that it may have been a contributing factor, but I was beginning to not enjoy my practicum placement. It had nothing to do with my students, mentor teacher (MT) or the school, it everything to do with myself.

I felt that I was not succeeding in my practicum because I had a couple of not so successful lesson plans. I followed the curriculum and the students understood the lesson but I thought that they were bored or uninterested in what I had to say. Yet when I reflected on my performance I looked inside myself and said, “That was not you. You were not acting like yourself, or being yourself.” It was true on soo many levels.

You see I made a conscious effort not to bring my Early Childhood Education (ECE) background or baggage with me into practicum. I wanted to take a fresh approach to teaching and learning, to not come into the classroom thinking I know everything there is to teaching, because in truth I do not. Yet after reflecting on what had happened I said, “This is it. I have to be myself. If I am going to be condemned than let them see the real me.”

Therefore I began with my attire. The school has a dress code that male teachers wear collared shirts. I do that but I was wearing dress pants each day and did not like it. It wasn’t me, so I started wearing my dressier looking designer jeans and right away I felt better. Next I consciously reminded myself to have a positive attitude, so I began smiling. It is a small thing but if you do it, others will follow you and soon everyone is smiling. Lastly and the most significant was reminding myself that I am an ECE and that has value.   I should not dismiss this part of me so easily. Therefore I began looking at the lesson plans as an ECE and the ideas of how to implement them became easier.

Play is so Important in a child’s learning development

My ECE philosophy is that children learn through play and self-exploration. So in my math lesson I brought in manipulatives and turned the lesson into a game. I did something similar in a kindergarten program but I made it more advanced for the older grade 6s. I even brought in an activity for the special needs child based on a kindergarten activity too.   Right away the students got right into it and it was fun to teach them. It was a tremendously positive experience.

I expanded that positive lesson into my Art lesson with them in the afternoon. They had not had art this year and this was to be their first lesson. I started with lines, shapes, 3 dimensional shapes, shading and light. They all know how talented and how much I love art that they were eager to have art with me.   I did the lesson and they were so enthusiastic, especially when I turned the 3D shapes into real world objects. I told them that to get to draw 3D objects and images they need to know this first and they loved it. They were expressing themselves through their art and I loved it. Now I am doing the art lesson for a while and I am very excited.

No matter what the age, kids need play.

In the end I learned two extremely important lessons about teaching and more importantly, myself. Teaching is engaging the students through none traditional means. If you can play a game with blocks while they learn about expressions and equations then do it. Children are children, whether they are kindergarten or grade 6, they are all kids at heart. The second is to be yourself. I am an ECE teacher, that will never change. I just have to remember this and use the tools and skills I developed becoming an ECE. For in the end I have to remember that famous quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “This above all: to thine own self be true.


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