Topics in Early Childhood Education

Monday, August 29, 2011

We Need Good People to be Teachers

School began at the university again last week. It is difficult to believe that another school year has begun. I am teaching an "Introduction to Teaching" course this semester and I have a wonderful group. I am thrilled with the caliber of people who are considering being a teacher. It always reminds me of the hope I have for the best people to be in the classroom. I know it doesn't always happen because a teacher's salary is not very tempting, at least in my state. It is also a demanding and difficult job at times. I hope, however, that most of these top students decide to stick it out and become an educator. It sometimes becomes difficult for me to put a positive spin on negative reports in the media. But, I just try to constantly remind them that the most magical place on earth can be an effective classroom, because it changes a child's life. Many of the folks in my class this morning are there because they had a great teacher who made their life better. I wish all teachers realized what a difference they can make.
I was also thinking this week about my student teachers from last year who are now beginning their teaching career in a classroom. What an experience they are having and will continue to have if they keep their focus on why they decided to teach. Some of the best people I have ever met were in that group and I know they will influence lives for the better.
The best and the brightest, with the focus on the kids, makes all the difference for a child.


Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Hummingbird Knows

I have always been able to attract hummingbirds wherever I have lived. For many years, whether in the country, the suburbs or in the middle of downtown, I have always had at least one hummingbird feeder. While some acquaintances have struggled to attract the little creatures, I have always been able to coax them to my feeders. Those adaptable birds have even found me in the middle of the city.

Currently, during the summer months, I sit on my front porch most mornings reading the paper. With the hummingbird feeder nearby, I get to witness their early morning visits for food, their rituals for attracting the opposite sex and the fierceness they exhibit when defending their territory. These birds seem to adapt to any situation that provides them with food.

Hummingbirds are such busy creatures, rarely stopping for longer than a few seconds. Our lives have become much like that busy bird. With the advent of so much time-saving technology, multi-tasking is a common practice and is becoming an essential skill. I often think about the young children we are teaching now. We have no clue what it will be like in the future when they are adults. Yet, we are supposed to be educating them for that future. Think how in the last 5 years our cell phones have changed from being a convenient phone connection to housing our entire schedule and life information. How can we educate our children for the changes that will occur during the next 5, 10 or 20 years?

I think the answer is teaching children thinking skills and allowing them to take charge of their learning. I don't think filling out worksheets will prepare a child for the year 2025. However, encouraging a child to discover the answer to a problem on their own just may be the best preparation for an unpredictable future.

I suppose, just like the hummingbird, we will all adjust to changes in the environment. However, the best thing we can do for children is to prepare them to think through problems and be willing and able to tackle new information. I hope our children will have the skills to find the feeder in the middle of the city whatever future form that may take.