Core Questions: “Who are your learners?” “What does their learning environment look like?”
I attended Arcola Community School for my ECS 100 field placement where I was placed in one of the two kindergarten classes that existed. In the classroom that I had the privilege to observe there were thirty-three students. This classroom was a very diverse group of individuals that consisted of many different cultures, learning styles and disabilities. There was a wide spectrum ranging from children who were unable to speak fluent English, to a young girl who was completely blind. Inclusion was considered with great importance throughout Arcola Community School. No matter their history, or problems these kids were rarely separated for classes, or activities. There were three teachers in the classroom, plus me helping these busy students with what tasks they needed to complete. The classroom environment did not differ very much from the kindergarten classroom that I experienced when I was a student. Tables were in the centre of the room, there was a carpet in the far corner and a counter at the back of the room. Toys were everywhere for the kindergarten kids to play with. One part of the room was different. In one of the corners was a bathroom so the kindergartens would never have to leave that area. Beside the bathroom was a long row of cabinets for the children backpacks and shoes. The environment was bright, playful and cheerful with colourful, poster filled walls. My supervising teacher, Mrs. Woodard is a happy, patient individual who can transform the feeling in the room from crazy and hectic to a carefree learning environment.
Core Questions: “What is the physical and human context in which the school operates? What does the school and school community look like?” “What is the link between school and community?”
The school operates the same way every day. The kids show up at a specific time, class begins, recess follows, etc. The bell initiates the change amongst the classroom; the students know when to complete each task and for how long. The community around Arcola Community School is clean and safe. The parents know the teachers by first names and the teachers are generally concerned about each student and their wellbeing. Many meetings are scheduled, as well as, notes are sent out to parents who have children in the Kindergarten class to keep them up to date on their success, or failures. Parents are encouraged to have an active role in their child’s education by attending field trips and important days at school.
Core Questions: “How do you see teachers honouring different ways of knowing?” How do you see teachers promoting knowledge in the classroom?” “What are the current issues in education that teachers are talking about in schools?” “What are the key supports that teachers rely on?” “What role does technology play in professional knowledge?”
From my personal experience in the Kindergarten classroom they honour different ways of knowing by differentiating teaching. I find it more difficult for a Kindergarten teacher to teach different way so that students can understand it, because their language skills are limited. Mrs. Woodard seems to differentiate teaching by reading stories, spelling limited letters they have learned, watching videos and even incorporated singing. She is always making connections to previous knowledge that they have learnt to keep it fresh in their mind, for instance the days of the week, or counting.
The biggest issue happening in Arcola Community School is the limited number of teacher aids that are available. In a classroom of thirty-three Kindergarten students the student to teacher ratio is incredible. It is difficult for one teacher to administrate that many students. The teacher aids that are available are distributed out to students who have disabilities, or require extra assistance in the classroom. These supports are not available when needed for the classroom teacher.
Core Questions: “What are the different forms of diversity that you observe within the school and classrooms?” “In what ways do you observe the school, classrooms and teachers using inclusive practices?” “How are classrooms honouring learners from different cultures?” “Is it possible not to observe diversity in Canadian classrooms? Why?”
Arcola Community School is very diverse, but everyone is respectful to each other. The students that are in the kindergarten class are unique in their own way and each of them has an understanding about diversity. Not only are there many different cultures present in the Kindergarten classroom, but there are many people with disabilities that participate in their everyday activities. Inclusiveness is an important asset to the school. Whether they do not speak English, or are completely blind they are never pulled from the classroom into a different room. In the kindergarten classroom that I am involved in the teacher has many visuals for those who cannot read, or do not understand English. They allow them to show and share about their interests, or their cultures that they are a part of. No, I believe it is not possible to never observe diversity in Canadian classrooms. If there are not different cultures existing in a classroom setting, then there are many other ways it can be seen as being diverse. Diversity is not specifically focused on racial identity, but it can go as far as diverse interests, learning abilities, or learning styles. There are a number of factors that can contribute and show diversity in and amongst a classroom setting.
Core Questions: “What is being taught and do the students see the meaning & relevance to their lives?” “What role does technology play in students’ learning?”
My field experience takes place in a kindergarten classroom. Much of their learning revolves around learning how to listen to instruction, getting into a routine and learning different letters of the alphabet. Throughout the school year the students in the kindergarten classroom learn how to spell their names. Most are quite young to connect their learning to their everyday lives, but many of them can connect activities that they complete at home to ones they do in a school setting. Some students who enjoy school and who participate, or engage in activities that occur in the classroom see the relevance to their everyday life. Others do not care about school, which shows that they do not see the point of it.
Technology has become a vital part in today’s world. In the classroom that I am in I have only come across one scenario in which the children were involved with technology. This happened when they stopped to complete a brain break, by using the projector to complete an interactive dance. The music/video combination was portrayed against the wall allowing them to follow along with the characters shown on the screen. From my observation the children do not get hands on technological learning.
Core Questions: Why is school the way it is? What are you now more aware of? What do you see as the main tensions & dilemmas in education?
During my field experience it has allowed me to see education from a teacher’s perspective. Many realizations, opinions and beliefs have been formed throughout the weeks attending the field experience. I am aware of the problems that teachers have to regulate on a continuous basis. Their career is to not only provide the children with an education, but to foster a relationship with each individual. Educators have a major role in taking initiative in how school is the way it is today. The teachers decide the setting and atmosphere they wish to present each student with as they enter into the learning environment. Throughout my time in a community school that has a high rate of immigrants that attend, as well as, a high percentage of lower income families many tensions and dilemmas in education arise from their home life. Attendance is an issue amongst the Kindergarten students that I am involved with in my field placement. Language proficiency, learning and appropriate behaviour is difficult to monitor and teach if students are absent. Overall, the well-being of the student is looked after in the school settings, teachers are providing multiple learning opportunities and problem solving with the dilemmas they are faced with each and every day.
Core Questions: As you observed and interacted in your field experiences, how did the focus topics & questions connect with one another? What connections did you make personally and/or professionally to the ‘interconnectedness’ of lecture, seminar, field experiences and assignments? “How does this experience affect your journey to become a teacher?”
The ECS 100 field experience has allowed me many opportunities to view, learn and grow as a new and upcoming teacher. The focus topics allowed me to look more in depth into my field experience. The questions sparked interesting thoughts and perspectives that could be viewed as I participated in it every Thursday morning. Connections between the topics and questions guided me into helping form an overall idea of who I wanted to be as a teacher, my beliefs and learning environment I would like to have in the future.
The “I Believe” statement throughout the lecture, seminar, field experiences and assignments was the major “interconnectedness” that I related to most. Each educator should feel the need to lay out what they believe and stand for. Although, it is not written in stone and teachers have the right to change what they believe in with the more experience they gain, it should be a guideline that they can follow throughout their career. The statements would allow them to keep their instruction and philosophy consistent, which I believe is important.
The field placement in ECS 100 has allowed me to observe a teacher that is passionate and dedicated for her career. She has provided me with many great ideas that I can carry into my classroom. It has shown me ways that I can connect with the students, as well as, help and improve their learning in the journey to becoming a teacher. My field placement outlined and raised the importance of always putting the students’ needs in front of your own while in the school setting. Their learning and wellbeing is a major asset to their future success.