A Little Cervantes and Some Short, Fuzzy Answers

This morning I was feeling  sick and tired of filling out endless online applications that seemed like written job interviews. When I came across this quote in Lua’s very literary Blog. It made me feel like by just trying your best to be honest and ethical, you could be satisfied even when things are hard. Things are hard, but I feel OK, because in the end I feel I have done my best to do the right things in my own special way, which is usually a flawed, blindly groping effort. But, hey! I do my best. Thank you, Cervantes and Lua for giving me a more positive perspective.

“I was ever charitable and good to the poor, and scorn to take the bread out of another man’s mouth. On the other side, by our Lady, they shall play me no foul play. I am an old cur at a crust, and can sleep dog-sleep when I list. I can look sharp as well as another, and let me alone to keep the cobwebs out of my eyes. I know where the shoe wrings me. I will know who and who is together. Honesty is the best policy, I will stick to that. The good shall have my hand and heart, but the bad neither foot nor fellowship. And in my mind, the main point of governing, is to make a good beginning.”


Here are some of the answers that I came up with in 1200 characters or less:

The classroom at my last position was very small and crowded. I worked with the children and used my Reggio experience to redesign the space. I added several large mirrors and put space into general use that had been used as teacher space. The children and I came up with strategies for table use and guidelines on how to use walkways so that we could move around safely. I included the children in most of the process, and they were quite successful in using the classroom or negotiating with each other when there were conflicts.

Last year I had student with many challenging behaviors. He was impulsive and often physically abusive toward others in order to control their behavior. Whenever he was present I would position myself in physical proximity and provide both verbal and gentle physical reminders of positive ways to resolve issues. I gave him a number of strategies like clapping his hands and growling when he felt frustrated. I debriefed each day with his mother who was also concerned with his behaviors. By the end of the year, he had made several friends, and he was able to play across the room with minimal supervision.

I help people work in the classroom by providing clear guidelines and expectations and specific feedback. They should know what they are expected to do and have input into the planning if possible. I, also, provide assistance with challenging situations and model appropriate language and actions. I have periodic meetings with volunteers both give feedback and listen to their ideas and concerns.

I believe that each classroom must develop curriculum that fits with the needs of the group of children involved.
Documentation can be in the form of anecdotal individual and group observations, work samples, and conversations with other staff and parents. There should be a way to gather observations on each child into a report or portfolio that shows a child’s progress in the different aspects of their development. Parents should be involved in the process as much as possible.

Maximizing positive staff interactions with children on the child’s level.
Flexibility within consistency: Allowing children to follow their own schedule as much as possible while maintaining a daily routine.
Individualization: You need to take into account the individual temperaments, abilities, cultural backgrounds, and learning styles of each child.

The children as individuals: I have to get to know each child, their interests, temperament, abilities and cultural background.This is always numbers 1-4 on my list.
Developmental level: What are the appropriate expectations of the age group you are serving.
Cultural aspects of the community: What can we learn from our diversity as group.
Environment: what space do we have available and how is it best utilized.
Community Opportunities: What can we learn about the neighborhood and community surrounding the classroom.
The skills and interests of staff and parents involved.
Fun and fascination: Activities need to be engaging and provide joy for most of the children.
Variety: A good program provides a range of activities (indoor/outdoor, calm/active, messy/contained, individual/group etc.) to provide for different learning styles and emotional needs.
Hands on: Children need to be actively involved in learning in a very physical way.
Flexibility: Any curriculum I develop has be flexible enough to take advantage of unplanned for learning opportunities that arise.

The most important part of guidance in this age group is developing a good working relationship with each child. I talk with children and their parents and caregivers, observe children closely in the classroom, and work daily on building trust with each child.
The environment is also very important in guiding a child’s behavior. Each classroom needs to reflect to needs and abilities of the children who use it. Often I will adjust the environment in order to help children work well.
I use creative problem solving in collaboration with children, redirection, self-awareness and emotion coaching, listening and feedback, and group think approaches.
If a child is having consistent difficulties in the classroom, I like to involve the parents as collaborators working toward positive solutions to the problem. This usually gives the parents some ideas on how to deal with issues more positively at home and gives me insight into some of the nuances in the child’s thinking.
I do a lot of commentary on positive approaches I see children using to deal with difficult situations that come up. I make my statements as specific as possible so that the children can repeat successful strategies.

As a Head Start teacher, I worked closely with parents in all aspects of their lives, developing goals for each parent as individuals, for their families and individualized learning goals for their children during periodic home visits and conferences. I have worked with families of a wide variety of cultural backgrounds and who use many languages. I have a lot of experience building classroom communities with diverse language and cultures.

Can you guess what the questions where?

I am so sick of typing vague little answers in tiny boxes!

This entry was posted in All part of the process, can't really complain but, Other peoples words, paying attention, philosophy, Questions and riddles, Teaching and Learning, thinking in words, working world and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to A Little Cervantes and Some Short, Fuzzy Answers

  1. Lua says:

    Good for you!!! 🙂
    A very honest (and very Cervantesy) response to all those online applications… They are impersonal and some of them are so full of rubbish!
    “The children as individuals: I have to get to know each child, their interests, temperament, abilities and cultural background.”
    I really do believe this is very important!

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