One Sunflower

Friday’s observation

on November 14, 2010

Friday morning, a colleague and I visited the classroom of another Head Start teacher. We arrived at the end of breakfast and watched as the students cleared their dishes and got ready for toothbrushing.  I wanted to visit this class in particular because the composition of the group is similar to mine in that all the children have Spanish as their home language.  But this class has bilingual teachers and they conduct the class primarily in Spanish with exposure to English at times.  My aide is bilingual but her Spanish support varies throughout the day and from child to child.

I was able to watch as the teacher led a story model and supported his students in the retell.  This activity is new for this teacher and I am thankful to him for being willing to walk this learning edge in front of an observer.  Watching him, I remembered beginning this work two years ago when I, too, would make my pictures proportional.  I am confident that he will learn as I have that there is powerful modeling that happens with the drawing of people – and to let setting details take a back seat for awhile.

I watched the teacher use “to-with and by” strategies providing support in both English and Spanish, helping the kids tell fragments of his story or embellish it as they were comfortable. Just like my own class – they love it and all of them wanted to participate.

It was wonderful to be able to sit back and observe another teacher working as well as spend time with students that I don’t know at all. I found I needed to try ways of engaging them based purely on what I witnessed them doing right at that moment.

I spent time with one little boy who brought books over to read to me.  He looked at the pictures and talked about what he saw in them.  It was quite charming – but there were only 5 books on the shelf!  I found myself wondering where the rest of the classroom library was.

Another little girl was playing with some flat plastic shapes that are magnetic on all sides so they stick to a magnet board and to each other.  She involved me in her play by bringing me a triangular shape and asking me if I’d like some pizza.  I’d never seen this toy before so I had fun exploring the possibilities.  At one point I grabbed a near-by clipboard and we began tracing the shapes and turning them into things like suns and boats, adding people and whales.

The daily schedule of this class is similar to mine – and being a Head Start class, has to meet all the same mandates that I do – serving two meals, conducting toothbrushing, as well as all of the health and safety protocols that go along with those activities. The day is quickly gobbled up.  My morning observation flew by.  I probably won’t get another opportunity like this the rest of the year but both my colleague and I left wishing we could make it happen more often because we learned so much!

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