My learners are children ages 5-6, who are all white with the exception of one child who is of Métis background, as well by the assumption of the area of the school I would say most of the students come from middle-class families. These children also attend a catholic school, so therefore I would be able to make the assumption that they come from a catholic family. The learning environment is very open and welcoming to all, the first week the kids were timid at first but eventually started asking us questions as to the reason we are there and then continued to open and tell us about their daily lives and plans after school was over. The environment is always open for story telling, even if that’s not the task they are supposed to be doing, it rarely gets shuts down but more as an opportunity to understand the students better. This allowed us to get to know the students just by observing what students like to tell stories often or notice those who would prefer to keep to themselves.
In our school, the majority of teachers are female, with only two male teachers, based on the way they appear, all the teachers look from white and middle class backgrounds. The school and community appears to be well kept, proud to be there and supportive of each other, parents that come into volunteer are creating great links between the school and the community. The school and community are very close to what I grew up in because the area is only a few blocks from my own house and school. The area would be considered a good and safe area, close and easy access to parks and bike paths; as well the community is kept up to date.
The first couple weeks I hadn’t noticed to many things around the classroom that incorporated Indigenous ways of knowing, but as I looked closer and started to notice details such as the circle of courage and books that included Indigenous people and their ways of knowing and life. Then just last week we took a walk around the school and noticed all the teachers having projects based on and around Indigenous ways and their culture. Our teacher had talked to us about how her class last year had a more diverse group of children and that made it easier to teach about diverse cultures as she could relate it to the children and the other children can have that interaction with children from different backgrounds. Now this year with her class being all white children, it makes it harder for kids to connect with what she teaches as they don’t have that same interaction with diverse groups. I believe the teachers strongly rely on books that are age appropriate and which they can connect with but still have that strong relation to the different ways of knowing. Teachers can continue to build their knowledge by attending events such as Treaty Ed or keep being aware of what we have learnt and continue to do their best to break the norm around not have different ways of knowing in the classroom at a young age.
Within our own classroom, I have noticed that we have a few children who would be considered weaker in some areas but our teacher always allows them to take the time they need as well as let them try it themselves first then if they need help they are encouraged to ask and help is always given in a positive way. I haven’t noticed many other types of diversity in the school and other classrooms, but again with ours there may be diversity that we can’t visibly see such as speech or mental disabilities. These are the types of diversity that just by seeing students in the hallway that I would not be able to recognize right away. Honoring inclusive practices would just be accepting students with diversities, adapting the their skills and learning types rather than the students having to adapt to the teacher. In our classroom, students who have a harder time holding a pencil, she gives them a tool to put their fingers into which helps hold the pencil as well as holding a cotton ball in the student’s hand. In doing this she has adapted her style and made it easier on her students rather than just repeating how to hold a pencil over and over.
Week 5: At first, I didn’t see the evident ways of acceptance within the schools, I didn’t notice anything about LGBTQ rights or safe space. But I did notice some other classes bulletin boards about being their-selves and accepting everyone the way they are. I am disappointed about the lack of gender and sexual diversity acceptance around the school. I believe this is how the problems with bullying starts because from a young age there is no emphasis on accepting everyone and not just because they don’t like the same food or colour as you but because the way they are is something that can’t be changed. This push and openness around diversity in many aspects allows students that differences are everywhere around us and it doesn’t need to be pointed out, it just is what it is.
Week 6:To start the day, the students in Miss Wilson’s class do circle time, they learn to count the numbers on the month and then count backwards, also learning the days of the week by singing the days of the week song: “Days of the Week *clap clap* Days of the Week *clap clap* there’s Sunday and there’s Monday, Tuesday and there’s Wednesday, Thursday and there’s Friday and even Saturday Days of the Week *clap clap* Days of the Week. Doing this repetition lets them identify the order that the week goes in. They then learn aspects of the weather by identifying the weather outside on each day, noticing the changes from day to day. After this weather, they learn rhyming, a different word each day, some examples are rhyme with pig, hat, and mop. The students in Miss. Wilson’s class mainly focus on learning their alphabet, this includes learning how to print each letter uppercase and lower case, as well as learning to identify words that begin with each letter. This is such a fundamental asset in their life and a scaffolding lesson that they will use forever in their life. Miss Wilson uses ABC mouse, which is a program that helps with printing and identify words that start with the letter they are learning. When we were there we have had the opportunity to attend their phys. ed. class with Mrs. Burns, they started off by learning how to throw and kick a ball, also catching a ball with two hands. With these basic skills, they moved to more difficult adaptations like running and kicking, bouncing the ball while walking and bouncing and catching the ball. I always thought that children learnt these skills naturally when children need to be taught these skills, just like any other. I believe that in phys. Ed they don’t completely understand what they are learning because it doesn’t seem like learning to them. This class focuses a lot on the life cycle of things, first we learned the life cycle of a pumpkin and then recently they were learning the life cycle of an owl. The students start noticing that there is a pattern of seed or egg then grow a little bigger then bigger. This is also such a scaffolding activity as they will get into great detail of life cycles when they are in high school. Two students in our class attend speech, we were lucky enough to sit in one day, each of the times are about 10 mins. Hunter focuses on the pronunciation of letter, specifically the letter “F”. They practice this by tucking his bottom lip inside and putting his teeth over his bottom lip, this forces the “F” sound out, I think Hunter understands the process of doing this and knows why he has to do it. Lucas, is the other student who attends speech. But instead of working on pronunciation he works on language and answering questions appropriately. They did this by playing the game “Pop Up Pirate”, and before he could put in a sword he had to answer the question that was on the card that he picked. They did this until the pirate popped up. Lucas just thinks that he is playing a fun game and I don’t believe that he understands what or why he is learning these things.
Week 7:In this classroom, technology a big factor in their everyday life, to start the day Miss Wilson lets the children have a dance session, she puts a video on from “Just Dance Kids” and projects it and the children try to follow the moves that are being done. Then soon after they watch a video/song of the letter they are learning and it is with ABC mouse. These videos include many words that start with that letter and most have a catchy tune, which is good for the memory. These are the main ways that the kindergarten class uses technology, but when we attended Hunter’s speech session, they used the iPad for him. Using an app called “Articulation Station”, this allows the teacher to select the letter the student needs to work on and it comes up as a spinner and allows the students participate and spin the words and it formulates a sentence which the student pronounces. This was an amazing way that technology was being used, highly educational but also still very fun for the children. I wouldn’t say there is a lack of technology in the classroom because for information that is being taught, technology is not necessary to enhance the learning. Also, particularly for this school, many of the students are privileged enough to own their own iPad or some sort of electronic device that the screen time at home would be enough that adding on more screen time at school I believe would hurt their learning. Miss Wilson doesn’t have a class blog or tweets, but she does take pictures of the children throughout the day.
Week 8:What I have learned throughout this experience is that it has reassured me that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life because I truly do love it. Although I wasn’t close to the age group that I want it allowed me to allow be sure that I still want to teach secondary and that primary is not for me and I think that is a positive thing. It means that I know what I want but I also am not afraid to try other things and I am not scared to admit that I wouldn’t excel in primary grades. This experience has let me see how much work is put into teaching, thinking through every single day and making sure you are hitting the outcomes of the curriculum. I learned that I have a lot of growth to do in the classroom management area and dealing with conflicts, although they will be different conflicts in secondary. I still have to keep in mind that even if it seems silly to me, it means the world to that child right now even if it is over playing ponies. My patience has been tested and have grown because of this experience, mainly because I never thought teaching a child to use scissors would be so difficult and it is very easy to get frustrated. But one thing I will take away from this is if they don’t understand the first 10 times, show then 11 times until they understand. This experience was such a positive one that every day I wanted to share what happened with anyone who would listen and couldn’t wait to be back in the classroom with those children that were so amazing and funny and filled with joy. Made my weeks better and I will miss it more than ever.