Voices in Education

Combating the Wintertime Blues

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We have been going strong this school year! Believe it or not, we made it to December. We eagerly prepared for this new school year, thought about trying new strategies and reflected on our teaching practices. We understand the profound influence we can make in children’s later achievement. Kindergarten means providing early learning and educational experiences that contribute to children’s development for successful academic and social growth.  Some of the most successful strategies I learned were through collaborating with other teachers.

Children come from all walks of life, with different learning styles, temperaments, diversity of early life experiences as well as inequity in experiences. With the ever-changing growing diverse populations that we serve it is important not only to focus on the setting of the environment. Knowing about demographics in our communities, and the challenges facing the different diverse group of students in your classroom can enhance teaching and learning. Every new group of students will respond differently to curriculum and instruction. Teachers must be very intentional and consistently differentiate instruction to be sure their methods address the needs of the individual child and the group. I am always looking to improve my practice. Continuously attend workshops, conduct research in my classroom, and staying up to date with new information and resources to better serve the needs of preschoolers and kindergarteners. 

 

Tips

Checking our values and beliefs systems can help us approach teaching and learning with a new perspective. Questioning our behaviors can improve our teaching and learning. What triggers you to react to certain behaviors? How you respond to challenging behaviors is essential to consider in classroom management.

We are overwhelmed with so many initiatives and tight schedules. It is vital to keep in mind that school climate, classroom culture, and teacher dispositions directly impact student success. We must ensure that we are providing meaningful contexts for children’s learning rather than focusing primarily on isolated skills acquisition.

 

Techniques & Strategies

Be intentional. We educators need to provide more than a warm and caring social environment. We must be attuned and responsive to the individual cues and needs of each child in the classroom.

Child Development and student’s perspectives. Provide emotional support and have positive interactions with children. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of having a child-focused classroom environment as a way to keep children engaged and motivated to learn. Knowing and understanding child development will guide your teaching and learning practices.

Stay in the know about the latest research on brain development. There is so much research on brain development that can help us understand, design, and develop new strategies. New research can help us address so many challenging behaviors from the perspective of the maturity of the brain on children of kindergarten age.

Check yourself for unconscious biases.  As we welcome these new students, it is essential to make crucial objective observations at the beginning of the school year. Make sure these observations do not affect our perception of a particular student. Research has shown that teachers tend to make formulated opinions based on the student’s appearance, race, and other factors. Teachers unconsciously form a particular set of expectations that could be detrimental to the student’s success and achievement. We all have implicit biases. The critical thing to remember is to be aware and respond with respect, objectively, and humanly after all our job is to teach not to judge.

Have a great sense of humor. A sense of humor that creates a joyful non-threatening classroom can have enormous advantages for student engagement and build trusting relationships. The students will appreciate it.  Having a great sense of humor can reduce anxiety.

Accept the intellectual challenge and pace yourself. Plan every moment of the schedule to be well prepared for the challenges that lay ahead. If you find yourself out of time and cannot say on pace, have a weekly schedule posted and allow for flexibility. And most importantly, embrace and enjoy every moment. 

Carmen Espinosa

Carmen Espinosa Educator

Carmen Espinosa’s positivity and enthusiasm is contagious at Little People’s Academy, a state-licensed childcare learning center in Dover, New Jersey, where she works as director and co-founder. Little People’s Academy is a bilingual and multicultural school that serves infants through preschool-aged children. Carmen believes it is her duty as an early childhood advocate to create environments that are healthy, respectful, supportive, and nurturing to all children and their families. As a child, she wasn’t always allowed to ask questions, only listen and follow directions. Because of that, she has made a commitment to help children develop their potential by believing in them as capable, empowered, and curious individuals. Teaching is a lifelong learning process, and Carmen continues in her professional growth by learning new teaching strategies and philosophies. She believes that children have taught her to be open-minded and have inspired her to be a better mother, leader, and educator.

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