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Posted by on in Early Childhood

All Things STEAM logo

co-authored by Nancy Alvarez and Heid Veal

 

What do you picture when you imagine an ideal early childhood learning experience? Do you see young children sitting quietly at tables, independently completing school work or do you visualize them in various groups exploring, creating, pretending, tinkering, and communicating? The later is what the majority imagine and is what many would describe as developmentally appropriate for our youngest learners. When considering an ideal early learning setting, the young learn best when educators design purposeful, integrated experiences where students’ inquisitive nature and creativity are capitalized on to propel them towards foundational learning.

 

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kandinsky painting

A young boy, whose teacher has assigned the class to draw horses, beams with pride at the blue horse he’s created. But his teacher returns his drawing with a grade of F, telling him that horses are either white, black, or brown. The young boy is confused, however, because in his living room is a painting by Franz Marc, in which blue horses roam a brightly colored field.

A first-grade class is asked to draw butterflies like the one the teacher has drawn on the board. One girl happily decorates her butterfly with purple polka dots. But she is scolded because the teacher’s butterfly does not have any polka dots.

These are two of many stories I’ve come across over the years. Another, more general, story came during a recent conversation with early childhood educator Amanda Morgan, when she mentioned the number of teachers she’s witnessed who “fix” the children’s works so they’re acceptable for posting, or for parents’ approval.

Naturally, all of these teachers believe they’re helping the children. Still, it’s easy to see how their insistence upon perfection and “reality” can put a damper on the children’s creativity and their future enthusiasm for creating. But even less obvious, more “innocent,” comments we make when children present us with their imaginative offerings can be detrimental to creative development. Asking “What is that?” is one of them.

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fridays-arent-the-same1.jpg

Today is the day of the week that many of us look forward to. We already have our plans for the weekend and we can’t wait. It is a chance to spend quality time with our family and friends. It is a chance to relax and recharge our batteries.

Can the same be said for the students we teach?

Today is the day of the week that many of our students do not not look forward to. They have no idea what they are doing this weekend. The weekend happens to them. They do not have the luxury of planning their weekend. During the school week our students know what to expect and they know exactly what is going to happen.

This is not to say that the weekend is difficult for all of our students. But, for many of our students the weekend is not a time they look forward to. They receive fewer hugs, fewer healthy meals, if any, and very little sense of order and calm. The weekend completely drains their batteries, it does not recharge them.

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Posted by on in Leadership

 joshua-earle-234740.jpg

I have found my entrance into politics exciting, exhausting, and invigorating. I knew that this would be my most challenging endeavor yet, but this is on another level. This is hard and not just in the ways that one would think.

Now, I did not think that running for a seat in the United States House of Representatives was going to be an easy task. I was fully aware that this would be the most difficult journey I had ever embraced. It's not necessarily the tasks in front of me, but how they make me question myself and reflect incessantly.

It is so easy to lose sight of what put me on this path. Instead of focusing on being the agent of change that I have been throughout my life and educational career, I find myself painted into various boxes. Our national political climate is in a state of chaos. This includes attacks on the entire working class, notably all educators at all levels. These broad attacks require a response, and the flow is constant. Respond to this, respond to that. Comment here, comment there.

As an educator, whenever I find myself confined to a box or set of expectations, I reflect and take risks, implement new approaches, and break out. I encourage the students and staff that I work with to do the same exact thing. Now that I am here, I feel that I am not doing this enough.

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Posted by on in General

a1sx2_Thumbnail1_presence.jpg

He woke up crazy-early. 5 am to be exact. That in my opinion is too early for a little kid to be awake. And it was apparent by the way he behaved. Or didn’t, to be more exact. I brought a blanket and a pillow downstairs, hoping he would lie down and maybe–just maybe–fall asleep. Or at the very least, rest.

That wasn’t going to happen. At least not yet. He fussed. He complained. He acted as any kid would that was awake an hour and half earlier than normal.

But then something happened. His sister came down. That was what who he needed. You can see the pillow at his feet and the blanket behind his back. They were warm and comfortable. They couldn’t provide the warmth and comfort that he needed. But his sister could.

And she did.

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