Observing a Preschool Classroom 

This doesn’t necessarily belong under student teaching but because it’s similar to gaining experience being in a classroom, I’m putting it under this category. I’m taking three courses this summer and one of these courses is Instructional Strategies in Early Childhood where we are exploring the concepts of play amongst children in the classroom setting. And for that we have to perform our fieldwork in some sort of an early childhood classroom. I finally found a place with the help of my classmate, Katie, who works in a preschool, Chinatown Learning Center, in Philadelphia. It’s an easy commute which makes it easier for me. Today was my first day and I will be going every Wednesday from now to the end of June from 8:30-10:30 am.

I really liked the center. The way it is set up is inviting to both children and parents. Everything is miniature sized for the children starting from the tables, the chairs, cubby holes, sinks where students wash hands when they come in, and even the water fountain. It’s set up like that for them which I really liked. It helped the teachers to see things and teach from the children’s eye level. So they have different centers around the room. There is a science center, a writing center, as well as a center for blocks and dramatic play. One of the teachers pointed out to me that the children tended to stay away from the science and writing centers but flocked to centers like blocks and dramatic play 😊. The centers are all labeled of what is where and what is some of the things called in order to help the children get familiarized to different objects. One thing I noticed was that everything is written in English from the welcome board, to the instructions of how to wash hands, directions, labels, books, etc. this really promoted an environment of English language being spoken in the classroom, despite Chinese probably being their first language. Speaking of which, I was a little bit surprised that the children were speaking English because I as told by Katie that I would probably have to be placed with some of the English speakers as most of the children didn’t speak English. They were conversing with each other and with their teacher in English just fine.

The children are just so cute. I was at a table jotting down notes of the way the classroom looked or how and with who the children played. A little girl came up to me and introduced herself and asked me for my name. She then asks, “Can you help me make a house?” I was like”Yeah” 😊. A little later, another child taps me on the shoulder and introduces himself.  And then there are these tiny little beings inviting me to play with them and constantly saying “Miss Sara, Miss Sara, look!, Miss Sara, do you want me to make you a cupcake?, Miss Sara, do you want to play blocks with me?” And my thought at that moment is This is where I want to be. I mean I would still rather like to teach upper elementary but preschool doesn’t seem that bad anymore 😁.

March 14, 2016

This Monday was more of a normal school day. Mondays happen to be introductory days when the new unit gets introduced so Mrs. Smith was feeling a little bad for me because most of the activities where you get to do something with the students happen to start from Tuesdays. So we have to figure that out.

In the morning befor math started, the students were working on “The Best Part of Me” where they have to choose a favorite body part and write about why they chose it. During Math, they were being introduced to tenths and decimals and hundredths and decimals by Mrs. Reifsnyder. They were learning how to use models and number lines which are part of the common core practices. They were also learning about fractions (Which hundredths is it?), problem solving (Write 4  60/100 as a decimal —> 4.60), and word problems.

The rest of the class went like this:

Reading/writing- How can words lead to change?

What is a biography?
– a life story about a famous person which includes a lot of facts
– Thomas Hopkins Galedet- how was sign language brought to America?
– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Fight against inequality)
– Nelson Mandela (fight inequality and discrimination)

Vocab- overview of Vocab words — “tension” was a confusing word

Elizabeth Cady Stanton
– Argued that women should be able to vote and have the same right as men (“Declaration of Rights and Sentiments”)
– Author’s Point of View- an author’s position or attitude about a topic of selection

At the end, Mrs. Smith and I decided that instead of her doing the whole Language Arts lesson, I would introduce the first half of it and then she will carry on from there. Eventually, I should be able to do a whole lesson and be observed doing it.


March 7, 2016

I started my first day as student teacher at Ancillae Assumpta Academy today. This is a Catholic school that serves grades kindergarten to 8th grade. It is about a five minute walk from Arcadia University. I will be under Mrs. Jennifer Smith for the duration of my stay, which will be from today to May 16th, 2016. I will also be working with Mrs. Lindsay Reifsnyder who co-teaches with Mrs. Smith.  Someone from Arcadia will come and observe me teach a lesson sometime during my stay.

So the class is a 4th grade class with 28 students. Class starts around 8 o’clock but of course students come in before that. There are students with special needs in the classroom but there are no IEP’s. As Mrs. smith informed me, the students are tested but they are not necessarily diagnosed. This was interesting to know because I always made the assumption that all schools had some sort of an IEP for special needs students. However, this school does have “action plans” where the assessments are structured for specific individual students. Also as I was talking with Mrs. Smith about how she plans her lessons, she said that she doesn’t really make up a formal lesson plan. She just comes up with weekly plans thst includes the Objective, Process, Assessment, etc. Also, another thing I found interesting was that they do not take the PSSA’s. What do they take instead? The Terra Novas which test the common core standards.

So today was actually not a typical Monday for either the students nor the teachers. The class was getting introduced to a new STEM project (Riley Rover Base Project) where the students will use coding and programming to build and maneuver a robot. Today bieng my first day, I was observing a lot and jotting down a lot of notes of what the students were doing and what the teachers were doing. The classroom was packed with students and teachers. There were five of us in the classroom. Two teachers introducing the STEM project, two teachers observing,jotting down notes about the project, and managing the classroom, and one student teacher (me) observing it all. Mrs. Smith kept on commenting how funny this looked because she has never had so many professionals in her classroom before. Because there was so many things going on at one time and because this was a new concept, we did not finish until it was time for lunch. But the students learned to program Riley Rover using the Bluetooth and an iPad. They played around with the axis and practiced going forwards and backwards.

The rest of the day was pretty laid back. I got to connect with the girls of the class as they pulled me into one of their games. It was pretty fun. I was a little nervous because I had never played the game before but they were really patient and taught me how to play. Towards the middle of the day, they had religion class where they read from the religion book. They read about the Holy Spirit guiding us and then they were thinking about the beginning of the unit and specific example from that unit. After that they moved on to Social Studies where they were learning about William Penn and the native Americans. Before they headed out for gym, Mrs. Smith was reading the book, Drizzle, out loud to them. The author is going to be coming to the school in May so they have to finish the book by then.