For this blog, I chose to explore more about relationships and rigor in my classroom.
Students grow in that classroom because of close relationships between them and the teacher. This class contains students that are behind kindergarten curriculum and this might be because they lack knowledge of English (ELL), disability or parents did not showed love towards learning and exploring. However, when I was counting numbers with students who struggle and can’t count to 100, I see huge progress in many of those students. I have been counting with them only 5-7 min twice a week. I see how students grow and I am a part of their growth. I would say that they wouldn’t have shown so much growth if there were no relationships between me and them. Many students got used to me and comfortable, this was a green light for me and I knew that they are ready to learn and do their best.
If students or their parents need any help, there are times for students to meet with their teachers and administrators. Students and parents can meet during parent conferences or student can ask any questions on their own. The teacher is very flexible, she is always ready to help me and talk to me when I ask her. Students in this classroom are welcomed to make learning material choices during lessons. Students are not forced to learn by the teacher, yet the teacher tries to make the environment fun for them to explore. This way students are not forced to sit and write notes and listen to lectures all the time but they have play time and hands on activities that are fun and full of learning experiences.
In addition, these kindergartners are happy to have all toys that their teacher provides them with and other learning materials. Students are respectful to what materials they have and there wasn’t any case of braking toys or other materials when I volunteered there. Not only do students have enough of materials for learning they also have enough seats for everybody. Each student has their own seat to sit on even though this class got overloaded in the middle of the year (new students came). We have 28 kindergartners now and everyone has a seat. Besides that, observers and staff members have enough seats to choose from. There are 4 adults including me and the teacher in the class.
The relationship between students and teachers are very close; students have time to talk and discuss any topics with each other or an adult. The teacher provides partner discussions and group discussions. Students are welcomed to talk to each other or to the teacher during appropriate times. In addition to that teachers are open to students and parents, I see variety of material presented in class that addresses each student. The teacher changes given material if it doesn’t suites students’ needs. The teacher is very accepting of her students and ready to change her lesson plan as long as students learn. Moreover, the materials that the teacher presents are respectful of others. The books that she reads does not suppress students. What I would recommend the teacher is to have more books about different ethnicities and cultures, books about different life problems so students can see variety of materials presented to them that support their lives. Plus, the materials that are presented by students or educators are learning oriented. Even toys that my classroom has to play during given time is promoting learning environment. Little kids learn through play, and taking away this time and materials at such an early age is taking away big part of their learning. Through play students engage with each other and socialize which is very important life skill.
Not only material support students’ learning in my classroom but parents that are around students. I see at least one parent involved in the child’s learning and this parent is always there every day, helping out all students. She doesn’t know a lot of English but she has done a lot for these kindergartners. However, not all parents care about their child’s success, there are those parents who don’t care if their child prepared their homework for the next day or if the child even came with backpack to school. It is hard to see careless parents who have kids that are in need of support and love. Parents are always welcomed to help out and be part of school and their kids’ success and bright future. I am happy to see lots of parents helping out their kids in classrooms and in cafeterias. Not only parents play big part of those kindergarteners’ lives but staff and office members too. They are really welcoming and work hard to find accommodations if necessary. When I first time came to Sunny Crest I was welcomed and they helped me find Jacqueline Guzman. She was there to help me with all I was struggling when applying for their school to volunteer. The staff members are very nice and sweet, always welcoming.
The second topic that I was interested in looking deeper at was how rigorous the classroom/ material is. I noticed that the materials that are displayed in the classroom are thought provoking. For instance, one of my volunteering days I was leading a center where students had to write down their observations on a given sheet of paper. They were looking at a poster with pictures of nature from the same category. Some posters not only showed snakes and trees, but machines that cut down trees. I then asked many students, what do you see in that picture, they replied to me saying the machine cuts down trees. Next, I asked them, is that good for the snake or bad? They answered it is bad because snakes live on the trees. These were simple questions because they are kindergartens but this made their brains get going on thinking about that we humans are the number one predators for any animal. This was a thought provoking activity for many students that I worked with.
Students also communicate with one another, they have time and space to talk with each other. During lesson time, a teacher would ask a question and then asks students to talk about it with a partner. I like that my lead teacher helps students learn to communicate from early school years because this will help them transition better into 1st grade. They will be more ready to the challenges that are waiting for them. As students learn how to communicate the teacher presents material that is age/grade/level appropriate, engaging and reflects students’ learning. Right now, we are learning about kingdoms of life and students are asked to take a deeper look at tropical rain-forest and organisms that are living there. The teacher uses many visuals and hands on activities to make it more fun and engaging. Even during snack time, students use their snack mats with picture of rain-forest to point with their snacks at different groups of kingdom life. Over all, it is very interesting to be part of those students’ lives. So much progress I see in many students. I am really happy for them and hope they can get better at what they are struggling with and have fun doing what they really love to do.