Thursday, March 10, 2016

Learning to talk and to listen.

“Preschool teachers in Finland are free to focus on what’s really essential: their relationship with the growing child.“

Loved THIS article from the Atlantic because it reminded me that the most important thing we can be focusing on in the classroom is conversation, to talk and listen to each other, to develop understanding of each other and to build our relationships.

My mom had recently sent me a wonderful TED talk about how to have better conversations and it was also exactly about this. Seems that the message is coming in from everywhere at once!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Overheard a parent say

"Is there anything you want me to do differently to help you out? Or am I doing ok?"

And just felt those were the most helpful words I had ever heard an adult say to a child.

Friday, February 5, 2016

It is actually with kindness towards ourselves- rather than condemning ourselves- that we make the most progress.

Sharon Salzberg

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


I work with a lot of non-English speakers. Most of the children who come to us initially don't speak any English and one of my main roles as teacher in the environment is to be the main language material. I am also acutely aware of how important developing the language of our school environment is to the new children's expression and socialization. It is a top priority at the beginning of the year.

However, what I feel starts to happen is that in speaking back in complete sentences and putting a lot of emphasis on what I am saying I feel like I lose some of the naturalness to my speaking. I lose myself in proper language modeling. It is amazing how even after all this time, there are moments where I think I'm not really speaking in my voice, but rather using a "teacher voice" instead of my own.

To help with this, I've been keeping the idea of authenticity in my mind lately.  I touch base with not just the words, but my expression and posture. When I think about staying authentic as I talk to the children I relax. Authenticity has to do with ease somehow, opposite of reciting from memory, putting things into my very own words.

Trying to convey to the children through just language, that it's important to not just say the right words, but be truly ourselves through them.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Calm and clear.

"If we take the time to calm and center ourselves, if we take the time to feel our fears, we effortlessly begin to lead the change we yearn to see all around us."

Monday, August 31, 2015

"I love to discover potential in people who aren’t thought to have any."

Oliver Sacks

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Fill up our cups.

Shivi came up to me to tell me something.

"Do you know that we have a cup in our heart?"

When children ask me questions like that sometimes I just return the question back to them. Maybe they're not looking for an answer but just want to tell me something.

"Do you think we have a cup in our heart?"

"We do. And when you smile at me it fills up my cup. And when I smile at you it fills up your cup."

I was endeared, of course, and couldn't help smiling at him smiling back at me.

"I think I can feel it filling up." 

Last week at a really excellent Conscious Discipline workshop I attended with the staff they asked the question, "What motivates children to behave?" I could agree with their answer wholeheartedly, I'd seen it, more importantly felt it happening in our room. Their motivation comes from their feeling of connection with the people around them. A bunch of rules alone doesn't do it. Learning to be a part of a community, feeling loved and accepted, feeling safe, and a desire to belong does.

I've been finding this particularly important with the new children this year. We have many who had negative experiences in their previous day cares, and some with no school experience at all. Suddenly they're thrust for six hours a day in a place with a bunch of kids and random adults. During these weeks much of our work has been about developing that connection. Home visits were really helpful in that process as was the gentle orientation week.

We're three weeks into our school year now so most of the new children are by now feeling safe and comfortable with the adults, so now the question is How to get them to connect with each other? How to foster positive connections among them? Much of it surely we just leave up to the children, who can be so good at bridging differences of language, age, and ethnicity. But there are many moments where we can facilitate that process among them.

We've had the older children in the room on their own during the afternoons these weeks when most of the new children go home after lunch. We've taken some time every afternoon to do Grace and Courtesy about inclusion, read stories about helpfulness, cooperation, and what it looks like to be kind. I'm looking forward to doing more of this since I think a good foundation early on will set a very positive tone for the rest of the year.

Does anyone out there have recommendations for books on values such as generosity and gratefulness and inclusion?

Any ideas to share about how to improve connections among the group?

Please share!