Today many public schools have pre-kindergarten programs. The children in these programs come from different experiences, backgrounds, and all have different needs. Prekindergarten programs give children an advantage to learning prior to kindergarten. I performed my second filed observation at Pinkston Street Elementary School in Henderson, NC. The elementary school is in a rural county and this school has lots of diversity in which there are African-American, Caucasian, and Mexican students. The classroom that I observed is one of four pre-kindergarten classrooms in the school.
The elementary school is also one of three of the schools in the county to require uniforms. This is due to the community that this school is located, which have many children from low-income families. I spent an entire day observing a 4-year-old pre-k classroom that consisted of 15 students. There were two Caucasian students, seven African-American students, and six Mexican students. Mrs. Brodie was the teacher and Ms. Johnson was the teacher assistant. The classroom was large and there was plenty of space for the children to move about.
The classroom structure was very similar to that of the 3-year-old classroom that I observed in my first field observation. There was also a carpet on the floor for circle time and the classroom was divided up into centers as well. The centers were clearly labeled. Some of the centers included reading, art, science, manipulatives, and blocks. As I stated before it was very similar to the 3-year-old classroom set-up. The classroom was filled with print and there were many different aspects of cultural references which included posters in the Spanish language and books that represented the different diversity of all of the students.
The classroom was like the 3-year-old classroom amplified. I am thinking that maybe because the school is state funded that it why they do have so many more materials than a regular preschool classroom. The science area even had a telescope in the center. The children knew what it was and what it was used for. Mrs. Brodie seemed to be very knowledgeable, she told me that she used to be a lead teacher in a child care center for a few years as well. She and her assistant Ms. Johnson had such a great rapport with the children.
It was evident to me that this was more than a job to her she really enjoyed the children and enjoyed what she does every day. That is the kind of enthusiasm that keeps me motivated in wanting to work with children. Arrived at 9:00 am after the children had finished breakfast. From 9:00 am to 10 am the children did circle time. During circle time, there are number of activities that the children do. First, they all sat down on the carpet in their “crisscross” applesauce positions. The first thing they did was sing a good morning song. They then talked about the weather and sung a song about that.
The helper of the day got to put the sun, clouds, or whatever the weather was on the weather board. Mrs. Brodie made the transitions of going to the next lesson of recognizing the letter, shapes, numbers, and birthdays of the day effortless. The children also sung days of the week and months in both English and Spanish. All the transitions were smooth and flowed together perfectly. At no time during circle time were the children not engaged in something. From 10:00 am to 10:45 am the children went into centers. The centers in the class were structured so that Mrs. Brodie and Ms. Johnson had all eyes on the children.
I also liked how she does the children for centers. Each day she pulls their names and lets them decide which center to go to. But she said she always changes it up so that each child can get a chance to explore a different center as well. Mrs. Brodie and Ms. Johnson were very hands on and they stayed engaged with the children throughout the centers. They kind of moved about and interacted with the children in different areas. Mrs. Brodie gave me a chance to participate, she told me to jump right in and so I did. I helped some children in the reading center and I also helped some children build a fort with some blocks.
I noticed how Mrs. Brodie always asked them questions like who are you dressed up as, and what do they do? It was clear to me that she made sure the children were learning as they played in these centers. From 10:45 am to 11:15 am the children washed their hands and went to the cafeteria for lunch. From 11:15 am to 12:00 pm its reading time. The class had been discussing the warm weather and Spring approaching and the different things you see during Spring. So, the book that Mrs. Brodie read aloud was “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”. I was familiar with the book because I have read it to children before and they loved it.
Mrs. Brodie had a word wall, another concept that I would do in my classroom. She told the children to look and listen for the days of the week as she read the book, the different foods the caterpillar ate, and to predict what they thought would happen. The children were totally engaged in this activity and I could see tell that Mrs. Brodie had taken care to work with them with early vocabulary development skills. Towards the end of the reading time, Ms. Johnson was taking the children two at a time to the restroom and then helping them on their cots. The children had rest time from 12:00pm to 1:15 pm.
During that time, I was able to have a conversation with Mrs. Brodie and I told her how much I had enjoyed the day and that she was an inspiration because she was so good with the children. She told me that she was a minister, so that everything she does is for the glory of God. She said we cannot openly put our faith out on the table but I make sure that| incorporate it in the way that I teach every day. I told her that it really came through in how she interacted with the children and the rapport that she and Ms. Johnson had working with the children.
She told me to keep my passion for working with children and that not every day is going to be smooth sailing but her personal motto is “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). At 1:15 Mrs. Brodie had me help get the children up for the restroom and outside play from 1:30 pm to 2:00 pm. I thanked her before I left and told her! would love to come back another day. I saw evident of multicultural awareness throughout Mrs. Brodie’s classroom. It was clear that she made sure her classroom was inclusive of the diversity of the students that she taught.
The print on the posters around the class, the books in the classroom, the songs they sang, and even how she let the children express themselves during center time. I believe that Mrs. Brodie reflects the standards of the NAEYC in her classroom. Per the NAEYC (2010) to be an excellent teacher means that young children benefit from well-planned, intentionally implemented, culturally relevant curriculum that both supports and challenges them” (p. 12). Just from my one day of observation in Mrs. Brodie’s class I could see that she followed through with this standard.
Just as I saw with my first observation of Mrs. Hawkins classroom, Mrs. Brodie also showed the standard of professional values that include a commitment to diversity and inclusion; respect for family, community, and cultural contexts (NAEYC, 2010, p. 10). I truly enjoyed my observation of Mrs. Brodie’s classroom. She is clearly a seasoned teacher who gives 100 percent effort in how she works with her children in helping them learn and develop. She is someone that I would love to model my classroom to. She and Ms. Johnson have a great rapport with one another and with the children. The children seemed excited to learn.
And, having the conversation with Mrs. Brodie while the children were resting solidified my belief in making sure that Christ is a part of the teaching experience whether it must be indirect, it will reflect in how you teach and how your students learn. “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us” (Titus 2:7-8). I plan to go back and observe Mrs. Brodie on another day and see what other things that she is teaching her children as she did extend me an invitation to come back again.