When I stepped into St. Mary's Monday morning I had no idea what to expect. I was so used to being in the gymnasium and outside with the students that it made me a bit nervous to think about being in a classroom with them. I was assigned to the youngest group of pre-k children which so happened to be Prof. Yang's daughter, Lilly's class. Lilly took charge right away and showed me where she hung up her jacket and her book bag. She then brought me into her classroom and I introduced myself to her teacher Mrs. M.
As I worked with the children we colored and made "cookies" out of play-dough. I interacted with most of the children but mostly Lilly, Mallory, and Jack who seemed like they had known me for years. They kept telling me how other classmates of theirs weren't present because they were sick and had "throwed up". The children were very concerned for their fellow classmates who were absent that day. They seemed to be very careful about things, especially getting sick. I'm guessing that they get this from their parents and teachers being so concerned about swine flu, etc. Jack taught me that he is supposed to cough into his elbow because it spreads less germs. This is a great concept that I hadn't learned until I was in middle school.
Another healthy choice that the students made was to wash their hands after coloring and playing with the play-dough. They even had a cute song from Barney that they sang to remind themselves how to thoroughly wash their hands.
"Tops and bottoms
Tops and bottoms
All around your hands
All around your hands
Now they're clean
Now they're clean."
They also had many other songs that were catchy and educational at the same time. One was "Clean up, clean up, everybody clean up" and "Good morning" Where each student shook hands with the person next to them.
Besides all of these songs, there was another factor that effected the atmosphere of the classroom in a positive way. It was Mrs. M. Just being in her classroom for one hour, I didn't want to leave because it's hard to find a room full of all happy people these days. As a teacher, I plan to do what Mrs. M does. She makes each student feel special and safe in her classroom. She uses techniques that make things much easier. She has a class leader which changes every day to be fair. This student gets to be line leader and bring in ONE toy of their own for the day and show it during show and tell. Mrs. M told me that she doesn't allow the students to bring their own toys into the classroom because then they become selfish and don't share. The fact that the toys aren't theirs takes away the "mine" and "yours". Each toy in the classroom belongs to Mrs. M and because she is sharing with the students, they know that they have to also share with one another.
Mrs. M also uses physical techniques on the children to remind them how to act properly in the hallway. While we were walking single file down the hall to wash our hands, the children were walking "quiet as a mouse". Which meant that their hands were up near their heads in a cupped form looking like mouse ears. This way the children were reminded to be quiet like a mouse, and they were keeping their hands to themselves. When the children were in the classroom sitting in a circle and going over the date in English and Spanish, Mrs. M was using techniques to keep the children calm. She had the children sit crisscross applesauce with their hands in their laps. This kept their hands to themselves and also kept them from getting their fingers stepped on if someone was to walk by.
Each student in Mrs. M's classroom is unique in their own way, but each and every one of them responded so well to her way of accomplishing things. She had such positive reinforcement for each child. From the moment a child walked into the room and was greeted with such passion, to the moment I left the classroom when Mrs. M still hadn't taken the smile off of her face, there was no time for any student to feel like they weren't special. I wish there were more places like Mrs. M's classroom.