Friday Two Cents: The Measure Of A Person


Upon returning from the spring break I had the opportunity to work in a few kindergarten classrooms where I know the early childhood educator (ECE).  I started my journey in the education field as an ECE and working with some whom I have known for some years is quite rewarding. Yet something this week came to mind as I was working with an exceptional ECE.  

You see, I have the unique perspective of working as an ECE and as a teacher in a kindergarten class.  I have worked both sides and I have seen the good, bad and ugly of both professions. In many kindergarten rooms there are two adults educating the students, a teacher and an ECE.  I can best describe this partnership in this way.  A teacher is like the officer or captain of the unit/classroom they oversee the planning in room and do a lot of the paperwork involved with the job.  They now the rules and regulations and curriculum involved in making the ship run smoothly.  The ECE’s are the NCO’s (non-commissioned officers/sergeants), they oversee the smaller everyday running of things.  They also are the backbone of the unit making sure that the unit runs smoothly according to the captain’s (teacher’s) plan.  Yet they also have a level of experience/knowledge that makes them invaluable to the officers and unit.  They are almost like the glue that keeps things together. 

As in any unit, when both the officers and sergeants are working together, the unit functions like a well-oiled machine.  The same can be said in a kindergarten classroom with the teacher and ECE.  I had the opportunity to work with an ECE who shows her passion for teaching.  Yet in many circles she is looked down upon because she is an ECE.  She is not a teacher with all the degrees and additional qualifications.  Many teachers would only see a support person not an equal. But she works and programs in the classroom as well or better than some teachers I have worked with.  Why is it that we cannot see the wonderful educator she is simply because she does not have the qualifications.  Is it truly a matter of position, of rank or privilege that holds people back in recognizing her contributions? 

I know that there are some ECEs that are not as passionate as the ECE that I worked with, as I would imagine in any profession, but I think that they are in the minority. I think and was told that I preformed as well as this ECE.  I took my experience as an ECE and brought it forward into my teaching career.  There are many ECEs working that would exemplify their teaching skills in their work with the students and they are not teachers.  So why we cannot acknowledge them as being great educators in the system as well as teachers?  

I have felt the sting of discrimination of being an ECE and a teacher. When I worked as an ECE in a classroom I was treated as a support staff and told to do whatever the teacher told me to do. Yet once I received my teaching licence and I was still working as an ECE, until I got onto the supply-teaching list, teachers would treat me different than before.  I was seen as a second teacher in the room, asked for observation notes; or to plan lessons.  Even though the education policy says that the teacher and ECE are seen as equals, many do not put this into practice.   

Perhaps it has to do with human nature and how we measure people.  Do we measure them by their actions or by they status in a society?  All too often I have seen people measure others because they see them as inferior to themselves and they devalue them.  Perhaps we as a society need to treat others, as we would like to be treated. J.K. Rowling once said …

‘If you want to see the true measure of a man, watch how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.’ J. K. Rowling

For if a person can treat someone as an equal, even when society sees them as inferior; then maybe we can finally see no difference when it comes to valuing people for whom they truly are. 

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Friday Two Cents: Oh The Places I’ve Been


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This past week I reached a milestone that I though I never would reach. I worked in my 50th classroom as a supply early childhood educator (ECE) at the school board. I started in 2013 and since then, I have been in about 22 different schools and 50 different kindergarten classes. Over this time I have been in some classes that had the same teacher, but from year to year they had different students. The student’s personality differences change the dynamics in a classroom wherever I have worked with a similar teacher, therefore I see the class as a different classroom. In some cases I have been in 5 different kindergarten classrooms at the same school. I even have been in several French immersion classes during this time period.

I have been keeping a count of the number of classrooms I have been in since someone asked me how many different classrooms I have been in, back in February. One surprising thing is that this past school year I have been in 25 different classrooms alone. Amazing, the first two years I was in 25 different classrooms but in this past one year I have equalled it. Mind you I did go to teacher’s college one of those years so that would make a difference in the number of classrooms I would be in.
Yet reflecting back on the past year and the 25 classrooms, I can say with one thing for certain. Kids are kids no matter where you go. They are all very curious; they love to ask questions on topics of their interest and personal questions on your life. They all enjoyed my drawings and creative work with them and of course they loved George and my other puppets. Whenever I go back to a school or a classroom they always ask about George.
But even though I have been in all these different classrooms it sometimes feel like a hollow victory. I look at this number and all the experience I have accumulated; yet I still am looking for a permanent position as a teacher of my own classroom. There are days when I feel like I am making progress and advancing in my career. Then there are days when the harsh reality of my situation sets in and you are only as good as your last job. The saying “It’s not what you have done for me that counts but what you have done for me lately”, comes to mind. On several occasions I have felt that no matter how good I do my job, I feel unappreciated. That for all my helping and hard work, to make a class and school that much more enjoyable for the students, it falls to the side like leaves falling in the autumn breeze. It feels like no one notices, no one cares.
However those feelings pass as I try to be positive and think of the most important aspect of my journey into the different classrooms. My observation and learning from the different teachers and their teaching styles. I have observed many lesson plans and what is great is that I have been asked to conduct my own lessons in these classrooms. Lesson plans for math, language, art, technology and science to name a few. I even helped out a school with their science project on the life cycle of the butterfly. I don’t have my own classroom but it feels good to do some lesson plans to keep my teaching juices flowing.
Below I have created a logo of a blue silhouette male teacher holding the hands of two students. Each of these silhouettes’ represents a different kindergarten class I worked in. I placed a number on the top right side that represents the year I was in that classroom. The classes that were French immersion are represented with a white fleur-de-li because the majority of the classes are English. Directly beneath the logo you can see a tally chart of all the classes I have been in. The 25th is shaded in silver and the 50th is in gold.

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Saying I have been in 50 different classrooms is pretty impressive. I have to remember to think of the positive side of my journey and remember those famous words written by Dr. Seuss.

“Oh, the places you’ll go!

There is fun to be done!

And will you succeed?

Yes! You will, indeed!

 

KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

 

You’re off to Great Places!

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting.

So…get on your way!” Dr. Seuss

 

I’ve already moved a few mountains, what’s few a more.

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Friday Two Cents: 43 Classes And Counting


 

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This past week has been filled with many eye-opening experiences. It started like any other with me going into another new kindergarten class as a supply early childhood educator (ECE). It was a great experience as I was able to observe another teacher’s teaching style and class routine. I do this in every class I go in as a supply, a student in teacher’s college and in other classes I have been in since I decided to put all my energy into becoming a teacher. Suffocate to say I have observed many classes and I have learned a lot over the years.

But then this week I was given the opportunity to supply in a kindergarten class in the very school I went to as a child. As a mater of fact I worked in the very kindergarten class I was in when I started as a child. It was obviously different then when I was in the class as a student but many things were familiar. The chairs, tables and I remember playing with the blocks in the block centre. Yet the first thing that came to mind when I entered the class was that everything seemed smaller. Even the cubby area where the students place their jackets was the same as I remember it but it seemed smaller. I guess it makes sense since I haven’t been in that class since I was 4 or 5 years old.
Being at that school also helped me with a couple of other things. My time in that school was very difficult because I was bullied from an early age and not until I fought back and stood up to the bullies did anything ever happen. I left and had a much better time in my new school yet I always had bad memories about that school. My stint as a supply in that class, allowed me to exorcise old demons from my past and allow me to move on with happier memories.
The other issue arose when someone asked about how many classes I have been in as a supply ECE. I thought about it and thought it was at least 2-dozen classes but I was not sure. I then made it a point to find out exactly how many different kindergarten classes I have supplied in. When I did the numbers the results shocked me.
I started in 2013 and since then, I have been in 21 different schools and 43 different kindergarten classes. Some of the classes had the same teacher but from year to year they had different students. The student’s personality differences changed the dynamics of those classrooms where I have worked in with that teacher, therefore I see them as different classrooms. In some schools I have been in up to 4 different kindergarten classes in that school. I even have been in several French immersion classes during this time period.
To say that I was surprised at the sheer amount of classes would be putting it mildly. I decided to document this achievement with a tally chart. Below I have created a logo of a blue silhouette male teacher holding the hands of two students. Each of these silhouettes’ represents a different kindergarten class I worked in. I placed a number on the top right side that represents the year I was in that classroom. The classes that were French immersion are represented with a white fleur-de-li because the majority of the classes are English. Directly beneath this post you can see a tally chart of all the classes I have been in.   Saying 43 is pretty substantial but seeing it visually is another.
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For me this is a testament to my learning and hopes of one day putting all this knowledge I have gathered to good use as a teacher. I do not know what the future will bring but I will be posting this tally chart as a permanent fixture on my blog as a reminder. I will be updating it if I go into new classrooms. But this chart is not meant to show the number of classes I was in, but as a reminder of the difficult road to one day reaching my goal of becoming a permanent teacher. Hopefully I will not have to add more to see that goal fulfilled.    

 

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Friday Two Cents: Building A Community In The First Week Of Kindergarten


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  This week I had the pleasure to work in a kindergarten program from the first day of school. This is not the first time I was in a classroom on the first day of school but it is the first time as a certified teacher. The only catch is that I am the supply Early Childhood Educator (ECE) in the class. Don’t get me wrong I am very grateful for working in a class with a great bunch of students and a great teacher, it’s just I would love to be the permanent teacher of my own class. But I’m not here to whine about that.

The reality of this week is that I am within a kindergarten class that has 32 students ranging from 3 to 4 years of age. Many of the little ones have never been in a school or an organized setting like a daycare or class before. To say that it was difficult would be understating the facts. Yet I will be the first person to say that I enjoyed this week very much. Yes there were a few rough patches trying to get to know the students and helping them to get to know the routines and rules of the classroom, but it was a good week.

Having fun in Kindergarten

I know this because on Friday something happened in the class with the students that just made the teacher and I just smile. The students are so young many parents were hoping to have a nap or rest time during the day because the students were going home very tired. Therefore we decided to have a rest period where the students just laid down on the carpet listening to some music. They did a great job lying down without any silliness or hurting one another. I told them all this and because they did a great job I would play a song they all probably knew. It was the song ‘Let it Go’ from the Disney movie Frozen.

Exactly when they heard the song, smiles and their eyes lite up. Then they all started singing the song and some did some of the hand gestures that the character from the movie did. It was a marvel to witness. The teacher and I both just smiled. That afternoon the students were great with everyone engaged in their learning centres. Even on a personal note, a few students came up to me and said, “I like you Mr. Paul.”

The mood in the class was changing. They appeared to be getting closer, becoming a community. Amazing how a song can help bring people together, even students as young as 3 years old.

Building community in Kindergarten

Friday Two Cents: Students Are Amazing Wherever I Go


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This week I had the good fortune to work in two kindergarten classrooms as a supply ECE teacher (early childhood educator). The differences in the two classrooms were very distinct but the students are the same wherever you go.

Well you see, in the first classroom the students know me from previous times I have supplied in their class. As well, many of them know me as the T-ball coach that teaches and runs the T-ball league in their school. They are very happy to have me in the class and they always greet me with a smile. I am always grateful when I work with the students and the teachers in the school for they are a great bunch of people who welcome me in.

The second was my first time in that class and the school. The largest difference was the sheer size of the class in comparison to the first. In the first class they had 23-25 kindergarten students but in the second they have 31-33 kindergarten students. To say that the classroom was busy would be understating the obvious. Yet the teacher was professional as any I have been with as well as the school. This I was not a surprise because of the amazing teacher’s I have had the good fortune to work with. The amazing thing was the students’ themselves. Yes they were excited to see me, probably because I am a male, but also they were as open and welcoming as any class I have been to.

Kindergarten

I was booked for two days at the school and the students were told after the first day that I would be returning. Many of them actually cheered and they all made sure to ask and confirm that I would be returning. Not only that, when they saw me the second day they said, “Is today your last day?” I said yes and many of responded with, “Uhhh.” I read them book I brought in and like anywhere I go they where mesmerized by the story.

Interesting. No matter where I go the students are all the same.

Ailish Sinclair

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