Internship Journal #1
As an intern, the lead teacher of the class serves as my supervisor and mentor as I perform my duties as the teacher aide.
Part of my daily task as an intern is to prepare the journals for the writing activity of the pre-K students and conduct an activity with small groups, with four to five students per group. I also monitor the listening center in the classroom and the listening activities of the students. I also facilitate the plan-do-review activity for the students’ center time. Part of my routine as a teacher aide is to stay with the young students during their lunchtime. When the students are freshening up and brushing their teeth after lunch and while they read their books, I use that time to take my own lunch. That usually takes about half an hour. When I bring the students out for recess, I get to spend 45 minutes with them. After that, I prepare the cots of the students so they can take their nap. Part of my routine is to go around the classroom to make sure the children are taking their rest.
For this week, the pre-K students learned about the story of the groundhogs and how they hibernate in burrows underground. I discussed the story with the students and asked them what they think groundhogs keep in the burrow. One student said “a candy!” Another student shared, “their mother!” and another said, “a TV!”
Hearing these simple answers from the young students is something that I found so interesting and so revealing of human nature in itself. These three examples of the children’s answers were so spontaneously given and they are the kind of answers that can really be coming from children. As I was reflecting on this, I remembered the learning and development theory of Jean Piaget that says that children learn from interaction with the world and other people around them. Relating this theory with the groundhogs anecdote, I think that the answers of the students are a manifestation of a constructivist learning where the children use what is close to them and relates those to a new learning. In this instance, a candy, a mother, and a TV are perhaps what the children cherish and treasure in their homes and believe that other “creatures”, such as a groundhog would have these things too.
It is interesting to note that these are such innocent replies of young children yet they do reveal some learning happening within.
Internship Journal #2
My daily classroom duties as a teaching aide follow a certain routine and so there are no big variations every day. I follow the routine of preparing the journals for the students writing activity, facilitating the events at the room’s listening center, and preparing the students for their center time. I continue to stay with the children during their lunch and their naptime afterwards.
Each week though has a different learning activity. For this week, the pre-K students learned about the story of Martin Luther with the theme of world peace and civil rights. It is a seemingly heavy topic for five-year-old pupils. It can be quite a challenge to be explaining big and abstract ideas to children who are still focused on the concrete things close to them.
This experience did teach me a lot from different perspectives. One is from the teacher’s point of view, another is from the children’s point of view, and still another is from the subject matter’s point of view.
Taking the teacher’s stance, I learned that teaching young children is even harder than teaching adults. I can say this because it takes some special skill, talent, and know-how to bring big ideas such as civil rights and world peace to the level of children. How can such big topics be packaged into small chunks for four-and five-year old children to understand and learn from it?
Internship Journal #3
This week was another week that followed the routine of my role as a teaching aide under the supervision of the lead teacher. Though the daily tasks of preparing the students for their center activities, watching over them during lunch and as they rest, and having learning interactions with the kids are tasks that do not differ greatly, my experience with children teaches me that no two days will be exactly the same. The children are just so dynamic and energetic. Every day, many things happen that can be considered totally unexpected.
My interactions with the children teach me a lot about the nature of life and learning, and about how much wisdom can actually be contained in such simple encounters. Being at pre-K classrooms has been a great learning experience for me, especially when I get the time to do an honest to goodness reflection of such experiences.
This week, the young students learned about the four seasons. They drew pictures of the seasons arranged in the sequence they thought the seasons go after they heard a story that was audio recorded. The students were able to share some of their insights such as when it feels warm when it is actually supposedly a cold month. Interestingly, the drawings of the children reveal so much about themselves and about their feelings. They can actually illustrate how they fee, making drawing such a good outlet of feelings that are otherwise kept unexpressed.
This realization made me think of the learning and development theory about literacy wherein drawing is an expression of the kids’ inner world and an expression of creativity. As we have learned from Lev Vygotsky and Jean Piaget, children’s expressiveness must not be stifled by strict rules that can restrict their freedom to express what they cannot yet express in words. Seeing the children’s drawings made me realize how true it is that children, young as they are, have true feelings within them. Through the simple activity of making them draw the seasons reveals their feelings towards them, such as those months that they like the most and the months that they like the least. I gain a lot of insights from this simple activity and it is so enriching to be learning from children. As an adult witnessing the world of kids, I realized that their feelings have to be validated, recognized, understood and accepted. Children are real persons that come in small packages and we adults and the rest of society have to recognize that.
My experiences in pre-K classrooms are truly memorable and definitely loaded with life learnings!