Evaluating Impacts on Professional Practice

An experience that I have had with racism is from within my own family. Prior to my husband and I getting married our oldest son was having a temper tantrum during a family get together. We had a disagreement about what we were going to do with him whether let him get away with it because we were not at home or make him take a nap and accept the fact that he was going to continue to scream. We were at my grandparent’s house and at some point my grandmother said that “they” were not allowed in her home anymore. She said he was not family and colored people don’t know how to act anyways and she wasn’t going to have it in her house. I was upset and did not handle the situation correctly but instead yelled back that they were my family and if they weren’t welcome than neither was I and she wouldn’t have to worry about any of us ever coming back. This of course hurt my father’s feelings and no one could understand why I was so angry about her deciding that my child and his father were not welcome in her home but I would be. We did not talk or see each other for months until the day I we got married. She came to our wedding and welcomed him to the family and things have been totally different since then. I am still confused about the entire situation and sometimes I wonder if she even remembers what she had said but my husband has told me to let it go for the sake of our children.

As educators we play an important role in the way a child socially interacts with others. It is very important for us to be aware of our own actions because we do not want to have a negative impact on their growth social-emotionally or cognitively. Experiencing a negative interaction with any kind of “ism” can be hurtful and therefore affect the way that we interact with a child or their family. Letting it affect the way we interact with a child can have an impact on the social identity they are developing. It is important to remember that children are just that and that they are a product of their environment and therefore will act or speak like they have heard. We as educators need to recognize the difference and help the children develop a different attitude so that they can adapt and overcome any “ism” that they are surrounded by.

Observing Communication

I decided this week my classroom observation that I am required to do on my classrooms would also be my observation for this assignment. It was very convenient to coincide the two observations because it also helped me recognize that my before and after care teacher needs some additional training or to come out of that classroom.

As I am walking into the classroom the teacher does not see or hear me come into the room because of where the entrance is so it is easy for me to stand, observe, and listen without being seen. They are school age children who have been in school all day and have a lot of energy but are being unnecessarily loud. The teacher is screaming across the room for them to be quiet or they are going to sit in silence until their parents come to get them. One of the seven year old boys, who has a history of being disrespectful, yells back “You can’t make me be quiet and I don’t have to listen to you anyways.” Instead of the teacher coming over to him and talking to him she yells back, “Well I’m tired of your crap and you being disrespectful all the time.” He goes to say something else but I cannot let it continue because although they are both wrong, at this moment, she is more wrong than him and as the director I have to intervene.

I call the boy over to me and tell him to have a seat and calm his body down and I will be back to talk in just a minute. He agrees and I walk over to the teacher and before I can say anything she starts crying and telling me how disrespectful they all are and they don’t listen to her….and so forth. At this point I am not interested in all this but as to why she felt it was appropriate to scream back at a seven year old in front of 30 other children instead of calmly talking to him off to the side.

I have learned over the years from working with children and raising four of my own that yelling or screaming back is not going to accomplish anything and the child is definitely not going to respond to you in a positive manner. There is always a calm way to talk to a child and be firm and make them understand that their behavior and conversation needs to change. I asked the teacher where her lesson plan for the afternoon was so I could see what activities she had planned were. She informed me that the director whose position I just took over told her she does not have to do one.

I believe that if children are engaged in activities instead of freely running around the room then they are more likely to behave more respectfully and respond differently to the teacher. She is not engaging with them in any other manner than to yell at them and this is not healthy for the children. They need to have something to look forward to when they come back to the center and have some type of routine so that they know what to expect and what is expected of them.

It is going to be a long week of trying to turn this chaos around and get the children to respect this teacher who they feel does not like them. I welcome any suggestions on activities for school age children who are only at our center for 2 hours in the afternoon.

Creating Affirming Environments

I have had a home child care before so this is something that I have looked at in the past. The important things to remember is that the environment is inviting, child friendly, and functional. Making sure that you have materials that represent the different cultures of the families you are currently caring for as well as ones that you are not is important to creating an anti-bias environment. It is also important to separate the home day care section from your family living. Keeping business and personal space separate is important especially if you have your own children.

Family Child Care Home Elements:

1. A schedule should be posted so that parents have an idea of what their children are going to be doing during the day. I also would have a lesson plan posted so that they know I have taken the time to think ahead and plan and that the children will be learning while they are playing and interacting with one another. Also, encourage the parents to talk to their children about the schedule and point out the activities they will be doing.

2. Learning Centers are also important to have. These centers help parents see and understand that the children will be learning different things and stimulating their minds throughout the day. Basic centers such as practical life, manipulatives, gross motor, science, and art are good to start with.

3. A quiet area to nap is important. It can be within the same area but it needs to be free of constant traffic and noise. Soft, gentle music helps the children relax. I have always liked to play soft jazz for them to listen to. The children should be allowed to bring their favorite blankets and stuffed animals if helps them feel more comfortable.

4. Bringing family photos into the learning environment shows the children their backgrounds are relevant and can be shared in the classroom. It is also comforting to them if they can talk about their families throughout the day by looking at the photos and telling you who everyone is.

5. Books, puzzles, dramatic play props are all resources that should be present and represent a variety of families and cultures. These materials will help build upon an anti-bias curriculum while representing many of the different cultural and family backgrounds that are represented in society today. Children should feel that they are part of the classroom while they are in your care.

What I Have Learned

While taking this course I have learned so much more about myself and how we as educators interact with and influence the children we spend the day with. These children learn and develop based of the guidance that we give them so becoming the best anti-bias educators we can helps them to develop into open minded and accepting young adults. We must make sure that the influence that we have over these children stays positive and accepting. They are our future!

In all the years that I have been working with children I have always striven to develop a personal but professional relationship with both the children and the families. I want to continue to do this and make each and every family feel welcome and included in the classroom. As an assistant director my goal is now to make the families feel comfortable and welcome with the center as a whole. They need to feel comfortable when it is time for their child to transition to another classroom and have that same feel of being included and welcome. It is important to respect each family’s diversity while helping each of these children continues to grow and develop.

I would like to thank all my fellow students for their contributions over the past 8 weeks. It is always nice to hear about what others have to say and learn from them. I have learned a lot and hope to continue to learning from those of you I may see in future courses but I wish you all the best of luck!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!!

Creating Art

art

This collage of pictures is a representation of just one of many hospital stays for this young man. This particular stay was 5 days and the surgical pictures were removed due to their graphic nature. This young man, who is 14 years old has been through numerous hospital stays and 13 surgeries. He has also been especially close to his sister and been protective of her since she was an infant. During this hospital stay she was not allowed to visit because she had a cold but she called to check on him everyday. As the days went by you can see through the pictures that he gets his smile back and at the end of the week comes home sits on the couch and his sister wraps around his neck trying to be mindful of his incisions. The picture in the center is them enjoying a night of dancing at a wedding reception a month later.

I chose this collage because it shows how resilient children can be when supported by their siblings. Although there are no pictures of how she struggled while her brother was in the hospital it is obvious that they love and care for one another. Adults who are ill are just like young children. They need that extra love to help them get through the tough times. I believe that because this young man has the extra love and support from his sister that it helps him to cope better and be more resilient. On the other hand I also believe that the sister is growing it a caring and compassionate young lady by taking care and supporting her brother during his medical crisis instead of being resentful of the extra attention that is being given to him during these times.

Children learn from the adults around them how to be caring and compassionate. If they have adults around them that tend to the elderly or other ill family members children pick up on this and learn from it. It is just like everything else children learn from watching and listening to the adults around them. Parents and educators are the biggest influences on a child’s life and we need to make sure that we are using our influence to guide them into the right direction as they continue to grow and develop into young adults.

“We Don’t Say Those Words in Class!”

The most memorable moment I have of a child speaking out about a difference they noticed in another child was about 3 years ago in my Senior Toddler room. I had a group of 7 seven children and we were playing in the dramatic play area. They were pretending to make dinner for me and setting plates at the table. I had a girl say to another boy “You’re can’t eat here because you’re brown.” I immediately told her that all of our friends are welcome to eat here. She continued on about how her mommy said and I cut her off and reminded her that again all our friends were welcome to eat in our classroom. Then I turned it into a bit of game and told her I was purple so did that mean I could not eat there as well and then all of a sudden all the children were pretending to be different colors. The relaxed and they all began playing together again. I later had a difficult conversation with the parent who was quite embarrassed but did not deny saying it to her child either. She just said she would speak to her daughter about it.

I hoped by reminding the children that all our friends are welcome to eat no matter what their color helped them to accept each other. I enforced this by pretending to be a crazy color and asking if I was allowed to eat. The children that I was working with were young enough to be redirected to understand that we could be any color we wanted to be and still eat with our friends. These children were 2 years old and were obviously starting to pick up on prejudices that the adults around them were showing. I do not honestly think this child understood what she was saying but repeating what she had heard.

Even though children this young do not have a real understanding for what they are saying because it is either learned or out of curiosity this is the perfect time to begin teaching them. Helping children understand why they may look different can be helpful with young children who are obviously picking up on racial or prejudice views. An anti-bias educator would take the time to explain the differences and most likely have a lesson on why we are different. Children need to understand that we are all different but that it is okay to be different. Different is what makes us unique individuals.

Gender, Gender Identity, and Sexual Orientation

I have been working in the early childhood field for many years and it was not until starting my master’s program and looking at bias and diversity that I noticed that centers do not have books, posters, or any materials that show same sex couples. Since we are seeing more same sex partnered families I think it is wrong to allow these children to remain ignorant or contribute to the stereotypes of the LGBT lifestyle. It is becoming more common and children need to be exposed so that they can be aware of the differences in family structures.

When you look at books, movies, or toys there is an absence of same sex couples. I have noticed by talking to others that there is still a great presence of homophobia in today’s society. I have and still work with ladies who are lesbian professionals within the educational field although it is not known to many. They do not talk about their home lives very much and it is not made known to the families in the center whether this is intentional or not.

This is something that I believe educators need to also learn more about so that we know how to address the questions of the children if they arise. As an educator, I would honestly be stumped if a child started to ask me questions about homosexuals or transgender people. I do not want to portray any misconceptions because I do not know how to properly speak on their behalf. As I continue to learn more about bias, prejudice, and “isms” I hope to help others understand misconceptions and stereotypes. To say nothing in defense of something is just as if I condone the actions or words that are hurtful and harmful.

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