Archive for the ‘Professional Growth’ Category

How to Make the Most of Parent-Teacher Conferences

October 3, 2008

The parent-teacher conference is an important opportunity to develop a strong partnership with your child’s teacher. Most schools schedule regular conferences, but if they don’t, you can request them. To make the most of each meeting with your child’s teacher, follow these tips from the National Parent Teacher Association and the National Education Association:

Getting Ready

• Call or write a note to set up an appointment to discuss your concerns.

• Briefly state your reasons for the meeting so the teacher can prepare.

• Find out in advance how much time you will have. If you feel that you need more time, let the teacher know.

• Talk to your child ahead of time to find out if there is anything she would like you to discuss during the meeting. Assure her that you and her teacher are meeting to help her. Consider including your child in the meeting if you think that is appropriate.

• Make a list of questions and don’t be afraid to ask them. Give some thought to the goals you may have for your child and share them with the teacher.

The Conference

Begin the conference on a positive note. Tell the teacher what kind of progress you’ve noticed and what your child enjoys. Be sure to thank her for meeting with you.

Here are some questions you may want to ask:

• How much time should my child be spending on assigned homework each night?

• How much help should I give my child on homework?

• How are you measuring my child’s progress? Through tests? Portfolios of his work? Class participation? Projects? A combination of these?

• Does my child participate in class discussion and activities?

• Does she complete and hand in all homework assignments?

• What future projects are planned?

• Is my child getting along with the other children?

• What are the classroom rules and how do you enforce them?

Develop a Plan and Initiate It

If your child is having difficulties, either socially or academically, this is the time to find out if they are school- or home-related, what the teacher can do to help and what assistance you can provide at home.

• Make notes of the teacher’s specific suggestions for helping your child at home.

• Before you leave the meeting, agree on a specific plan to help your child.

• Set up a way to check your child’s progress. Let the teacher know how to reach you and make sure that you know how to report back to the teacher.

• Review what you have discussed and restate your action plan.

• If you do not agree with the teacher, respectfully tell her this and let her know that you will continue to explore the issue further with her.

• Discuss the plan with your child.

• Follow through at home, as you have agreed to do.

• Stay in touch with the teacher to discuss your child’s progress and, if necessary, plan a follow-up conference.

From United Parenting Publications, October 2003.


Becoming totally involved with your classroom

September 15, 2008

First and foremost, clarifying the meaning of our role, and our being with the children, is vital for them. When the child is able to see that we are there, totally involved with them, they do not forget. This is definitely right for us, and for the children.

While most of us view children as totally different from the way we are, there are many things that are part of a child’s life that are just as they are part of an adult’s life. For instance, the desire to do something for someone. Most adults like been seen by others, this is just as true for children. When children are being observed, they are happy. It is almost an honour to them. As a good teacher, we must know how to observe, how to absorb from the observation, and how to understand what we have observed.

Children want us to observe the process of their work, and hardly the product. The processes are important, how much effort the child is putting in and doing the work. When we as adults, are able to see the children in the process, it is as is we are opening a window and getting a fresh view of things.

An observation, is not a judgment. When observing, we should assimilate all the many psychological things we’ve learnt. When we judge, things escape us, we do not see things, and thus we are incapable of evaluating in a extensive manner.

During an observation, we shift our role from being a teacher, to being a learner. During this self-learning process, we often notice things about the child which we may not have done so before.

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Relationship building

September 15, 2008

Both children and adults in an early childhood setting need to feel important. Children need to enjoy being in school, and love the interactions that take place. Teachers should also be able to enjoy being with other teachers, to enjoy watching children stretch their strengths and use their intelligence.

When a child feels that his or her efforts, intelligences and energy are valued, they become the child’s foundation of strength. This joy the child receives, is indeed one of the bases for learning.

What we want to do, is to activate within children, the desire and will, and not forgetting the great pleasure that comes from being the authors of their own learning. We need to learn how to recognize a new skill, how to wait for a child. While this may appear to be passive to the untrained eye, but it is really a very strong activity on our part, as educators.

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Where teaching begins

September 15, 2008

We each have our own image of children, which in return, plays a vital role in how we relate to children. It influences :

  • the manner in which we talk to a child
  • the manner in which we listen to a child
  • the manner in which we observe a child
  • the environment we construct around us and the children in our care

Environment that grows out of our relationship with each child is unique.

The quality and quantity of relationships among the adults also reflects on our image of the child. As children are more sensitive to relationships around them, they are able to quickly understand if whether the adults in their setting are working together in a truly collaborative relationship. The expectations that the children have of us, and that we have on children are important. We must spend sometime thinking and talking about these expectations.

When we think about a child, we must consider each child’s reality, and not think of them in the abstract. If you were to single out any child you know, you be will able to see that the child is already tightly connected and link to certain realities of the world; relationships and experiences. We cannot, and must not separate the child from the reality. Be constantly mindful that this child brings with her, her experiences, feelings, and relationships.

If you think about it, it is the same for us adults! Wherever we go, we carry with us pieces of our life. Our happiness, our sadness, hopes, pleasures, stresses, and other factors influencing our lives.

Children are unpredictable, and an ideal early childhood professional has to be comfortable with this. Of course, may things can be seen and planned, but we need to be open to embrace what might occur, and be able to alter our plans to flow with what might grow at that very moment both inside the child, and ourselves. We need to have an inquisitive nature, be able to try new things based on ideas that we may collect from children.

As our lives flow with the thoughts of children, we need to be open, we need to change our ideas, and be comfortable with the restless nature of life.

While this makes the world of being a teacher very difficult and complex, and also makes it much more beautiful and fulfilling indeed.

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Planning an Early Childhood occupation?

September 15, 2008

The starting point – Develop your philosophy
Every early childhood professional (if not for every professional), needs a philosophy (read our philosophy). It is the WHY behind why we want to work with children, the WHAT we do in our work with children, their families and others directly, or indirectly involved. Our philosophy should sum up our beliefs, values, and aspirations about our provisions of care and education. It should also explain the reasons we implement our provisions in the way that we do.

Well, once you are done with that, you have to ensure your philosophy is a living one. It is essential that those working alongside with you, has the ability to input into your philosophy. Thus, there is more likely to be the commitment and willingness to live up to, and maintain your philosophy. While there is no standard way of doing this, the first step would be to establish your starting point (which would be done in para 1). After which, involvement, motivation, and commitment are the keys to ensuring that your philosophy really flows through your service, and is not just left to gather dust.

These are some useful steps to consider when developing your philosophy:

  1. Brainstorm all the key areas you and those involved consider should be included.
    Establish a key list.
  2. Develop key statements around each of your headings.
  3. Edit the statements, trying to fit your key components to form your final philosophy.

The philosophy statement of a centre should basically highlight its beliefs and values in providing for children’s development, care, and education. The importance of its environment which supports meaningful learning with inclusion of children with special needs, and safe and healthy environment (for both its children and staff). The promotion of staff development, professionalism and good centre management. Lastly, the building of sound inter-personal relationships among staff, children, families and community partners with an emphasis on promoting inter-generational bonding and multi-culturalism.

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