Wednesday, October 28, 2009

the depth of a single utterance

In my foundations of language and literacy class for my masters in early childhood education, we are delving deeply into a few utterances by children. We dissect them to discover what the child is showing about his or her language development, and what foundations for literacy they are laying. It's fascinating, and I've learned that even one utterance has enough material for an unending amount of linguistic research. Syntax, phonology, morphology, semantics....that's just for starters. We're going deep!

This marvelous A, by the way, is the work of Rhett Dashwood, a graphic designer from Australia, who pored over satellite images until he found all 26 letters.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

stretching my thinking

I just finished reading my first Jonathan Kozol book. I intend to read Savage Inequalities and Shame of the Nation as well. I'm intrigued by his life experience and what conclusions he's drawn from what he's seen.
He tells many jaw-dropping stories in this electic account, but one that really sticks with me is the story that began him on his education activist journey: when he dared to teach Langston Hughes to inner-city Boston black middle school kids, and he got fired for it. The parents and larger community got angry. They defended him and began a huge protest on his behalf. It was the kind of moment that defines a life, and now, 40 years later, Kozol is still testing boundaries, speaking his truth, and getting people fired up.
I had to ask myself, what kind of teacher am I? Where do I intend to teach? When I'm there, will I maintain the status quo, or will I challenge it? What is best for the children whose education will be entrusted to me?
I must protest, for a moment, on Kozol's treatment of teacher education personnel who come into schools for continuing education. He skins alive a woman who makes a reference to text-to-self connection. Meta-speak, he dismissively says. But framing our work in theroretical terms makes sense to my brain. If I know the theory, if I have a map, then I know where to drive and how I'm progressing. I can like theory and still speak plainly. They are not mutually exclusive.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Observing Glebe

I am observing in a 1st grade classroom this week at Glebe Elementary School in Arlington, VA. I feel very lucky to have this chance. Glebe has a very good vibe going--the staff and faculty smile and say a few collegial words to each other in the hallways. The children are engaged in good learning in so many ways, with good teachers and good resources. There is a busy hum here, and heck, look at this building! It's only five years old. It's a treat to enjoy this cutting edge educational architecture and design. Just to see the library alone is worth a trip to Glebe.
The teacher I'm observing couldn't be more kind or generous with her time and ideas. One of the things I need to develop is my classroom management skill, and I'm picking up many, many ideas from her.
The week is going too quickly--I already feel attached to these children, and I'll miss them when I'm done with the observation.
Thank you, Glebe!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

All journeys begin with a single step

Not that I'm on my first step--as a matter of fact, I'm well along my way, but I still have a long way to go. I'm getting my masters in early childhood education, as well as my license to teach in the state of Virginia, at George Mason University. When I'm finished in December 2010, I will be licensed to teach preschool through 3rd grade.

I hope this blog will be a good tool for me, as a record of what I've learned and to show the progression of my thoughts on education theories and practical techniques.

I hope this blog will join the many edu-blogs I admire that add something useful to the online conversation about teaching and learning in early childhood classrooms.

I hope this blog will eventually be a community tool for my future classroom. I most often envision it to be a Kindergarten classroom, but I would love to teach all the grades for which I will be licensed.

I wish I were already there! But, at the same time, this education journey has its own pleasures. Thanks for coming along!