I supervise Early Childhood Education students who are doing their practica in Richmond. Its is a challenging, sometimes rewarding and sometimes disappointing job.
Some students, even those who have excelled in the classroom, struggle tremendously when they come face to face with real, live 4 year olds. They try too hard to say and do everything "right" that they forget to just have a conversation with the child/ren and find out what they are thinking and what they are interested in. Some of them can't even figure out how to ask an open ended question.
Of course some of them are wonderful. They have that "it" factor that makes them confident and comfortable and they show genuine interest in the children.
Sometimes the hard part of the job is some of the places I go to supervise the student. Places that are so stuck in the last decade, who still force children through a system of themes often completely unrelated to anything the children are interested in. Where adult agendas rule the day and learning is imposed rather than facilitated. Who decided that if its the second week in March children will be interested in Farm Animals......???? Where is the respect for children and the amazing thinking and theories of the world they bring to the conversation? All we need to do is listen and observe and offer them ways to deepen their own thinking and the learning follows in the most meaningful way.
Occasionally i get a student in one of my own centres which is a wonderful gift for me. I get to hang out and connect with my staff in a different way. The highlight of my week last week was being in one of my centres and observing 4 little boys of 4 different ethnic backgrounds standing in front of the dress-up clothes asking to put on the lovely dresses.....and high heels. The teacher didn't miss a beat and helped these boys dress up in the dresses.... they put on the heels (several sizes too big), properly accessorized with purses and jewelery and proceeded out of the dress-up area to show themselves off. They loved the sound their heels made on the tiles floor and started tapping and stamping. An observant teacher saw an opportunity to extend the play and quietly moved over to the CD player and put some music on. Within seconds the boys heard the music and came over. The teacher encouraged the children to listen to the beat and move their bodies. Soon several other children had joined in and when Abba's Dancing Queen came on it was a full-on dance party - children and teachers and even me...... So clean-up time was a bit delayed - no one cared - it was great moment with much hidden learning but it took a skilled educator to make it happen.
In some centres I go in to this would not have been allowed to happen - what a loss.....
So back I go this week to see my students who both had a good start last week but both have things to work on this week....and I get to be reminded again why I do what I do at my desk all day.......so wonderful educators can make amazing things happen for young children and their families.... and a whole new generation falls in love with Abba :)