My Time at MJ Coldwell Comes to a Close – week 7

Week seven in the Pre-K classroom at MJ Coldwell wrapped up my first teaching experience in my pre-service teacher education journey. From my very first day, the staff at MJ Coldwell welcomed me in their school and were excited to help introduce the teaching profession to me. They encouraged me to get involved with the students and fully participate in the classroom to gain the most from my experience. I enjoyed the opportunity to lead activities such as crafts, tower building with blocks, sculpting with playdough and baking treats. It was a privilege to watch the students embrace new opportunities, play and work together, and help out with clean up and daily classroom tasks. Every week I was impressed with how independent the students strived to be and their social and academic progress that I was able to observe through the course of my time in their classroom. It was an honour to work alongside Miss Kerster who challenges her students to be self-sufficient and try new things. Miss K demonstrated genuine care for her students and was continually adapting her classroom to meet the interests of her students which was inspiring for me to witness.

Today, the pre-K classroom acknowledged appreciation for my help in their classroom which reminded me of how rewarding the teaching profession can be. Over the past seven weeks, I was able to make a difference in the lives of many students which was my initial motivation for becoming a teacher. Although I am still interested in pursuing secondary education, my time spent in the pre-K classroom was extremely fulfilling and beneficial. I truly enjoyed interacting with the students and finding fun ways to incorporate educational lessons into everyday play. I already miss my 16 pre-K students and the learning environment at MJ Coldwell and I will be forever grateful for the experiences I gained through my field placement in my first year of education studies.

Sincerely a fulfilled and grateful Miss S.

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Learning for Everyone in Pre-K – week 6

I have officially spent six weeks in the pre-K classroom at MJ Coldwell elementary school. As the weeks progress, I continue to strengthen my relationships with my students and discover more about each individual and how they learn. Learning through play is highly encouraged in the classroom and although there isn’t an abundance of structured lessons being taught, every day I see the kids exploring new things and learning through their imaginations. The alphabet is a main focus at the pre-K level as the students learn to recognize letters and the sounds they make and how to print their names. Miss K incorporates the student’s printed names all around the classroom to encourage them to recognize their names and students are prompted to call each other by their names to ensure they are practicing sounding out different letters. Values such as teamwork, kindness, sharing, and respect are taught in the classroom by making sure that everyone is included during play time and that the students are taking turns at the different stations. There is always something new to try which permits the students to challenge their brains and accept that change can be a good thing. The freedom of choice and the variety of options available to the students permits them to learn more about themselves as they gravitate towards different activities and use their own creative minds to discover new things.

The pre-K classroom lacks the traditional structure of a classroom but the students are still being prepared for their future schooling experiences. They are being introduced to daily schedules and routines, student-teacher cooperation and appropriate mannerism in the classroom on a daily basis. Concepts such as raising your hand if you have something to say, asking to go to the washroom or to get a drink, and sharing the supplies that belong to the classroom are incorporated into the daily learning of the students. Miss K continues to impress me by the way she encourages students to be independent and take responsibility for their decisions to ensure that they learn from their mistakes.

As part of the Regina Public School division, MJ Coldwell focuses on 7 “Big Rocks” to help increases the probability of their students being successful. They acknowledge the importance of attendance which plays a significant role in the learning process especially in the younger grades where the majority of the learning takes place through daily interactions and experiences in the classroom setting. Another “Big Rock” is the idea of having high expectations for all the students which allows the kids to be viewed as equals and know that someone believes in them to encourage them to believe in themselves. The school also values the importance of creating welcoming environments and assuring that every student feels safe and a sense of belonging when at school.

The pre-K classroom creates an atmosphere where everyone can learn from one another. As I teach students about mannerism and acceptable behaviour, they teach me to challenge my imagination and show me how everyone learns in unique fashions. I am truly enjoying my time at MJ Coldwell and I am honoured to have the opportunity to help students while experiencing the classroom setting from a teacher perspective. It amazes me to see how much my students learn each week, how much I can learn from them and how my assistance is appreciated by both the students and my fellow teaching staff.

Sincerely Miss S: a pre-K lead learner at MJ Coldwell

Embracing Educators – week 5

As teachers, we have the ability to plan and arrange our daily schedules however some things are out of our control. This week the pre-K students were learning all about the four seasons as we transitioned into spring and Miss. Kerster had fun outdoor activities planned that required puddles and grass. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate and the playground was once again covered in a blanket of snow ruining the possibility of executing the planned activities. With little time to think, Miss K changed her weekly plans and was able to come up with fun ideas that still incorporated the weather outside.

The story So Much Snow by Robert Munsch was the perfect reflection of our recent snow storm and the inspiration for the craft while I was there. By mixing shaving cream and glue, we made a textured paint that allowed the students to design pictures of winter blizzards and snow piles using a medium that they hadn’t seen before. At the end of the day, we embraced the snow and went outside to make snow angels and trails through the snow with the mindset that “wintertime is fun” which was the key phrase in the story. Miss K.’s adaptability to turn the unfortunate winter conditions into a fun and educational day for the students was impressive. It was fun to see the kids be excited about the snow and the activities that were planned in the spur of the moment. It was inspiring to witness the kids appreciating the tasks that were prepared for them and the power that imagination and creative minds can have in the classroom.  

Sincerely cold, influenced, and motivated Miss S.

 

 

Inclusive Education: Inclusive Environment – week 4

Week four of my field placement challenged me to focus on the inclusive practices that were honoured both in the Pre-K classroom and through the entire school community at M.J. Coldwell. This week I read Oh Canada: Bridges and Barriers to Inclusion which put into perspective the importance of inclusive education to not only ensure that people with disabilities receive fair opportunities to be academically and socially successful but more significantly in order to create a society that is accepting and understanding of difference. In the Pre-K classroom, diversity can be seen visually through a variation in race but the true disparity can only be recognized by getting to know each student. The class is comprised of kids ages three to five and they are all at unique stages of learning. Some students can rapidly say the alphabet, count to twenty, and clearly print their names while other students are still confused by their colours.

At the pre-Kindergarten level, it is crucial that the teachers honour inclusive practices and design a classroom atmosphere that is accommodating to various learning levels. The MJ Coldwell pre-K classroom is visually educational by including picture labels at student eye level rather than simply written labels that allow the students to connect words to objects. Numbers, letters, colours, and shapes can be found everywhere in the classroom as a way of exposing the students to objects that will continue to play a crucial factor in their educational journeys. Miss Kerster adapts her classroom to every holiday including those of cultural significance such as the Chinese New Year which impressed me to see her introducing her students to history and a vast variety of beliefs despite their young age. Miss K also ensures that everything the students do is turned into a learning experience for the entire class and rather than simply lecturing individual students when they make mistakes she makes sure to address the issue to the entire class through positive reinforcement. No student is ever individually singled out but rather the whole class functions together on the value of teamwork.

I immediately noticed the aspects of Indigenous culture that are embraced in the school. In the pre-K classroom, the medicine wheel is featured on one wall, and a tipi is set up as a quiet corner for the students to read and relax. When entering the school through the front doors, a large mural is a  focus which demonstrates the sharing and cooperation that is valued in Indigenous traditions.

This week I felt comfortable taking on leadership roles in the classroom and was able to fully participate in all routine activities. the kids continue to amaze me with their abilities to immediately learn new things during circle and table time and stretch their imaginations during play time. Everyone is included in the classroom making for a positive environment that I am happy to be a part of.

Sincerely impressed and included Miss S.

Creative Teaching for Creative Minds – Week 3

I have now spent three weeks in the classroom and I am getting used to the hustle and bustle of the pre-K schedule. This week challenged me to focus on the teaching styles of Ms. Darian Kerster and her teaching assistant Ms. L who both continue to impress me with their adaptable, nurturing, patient and playful attitudes.

I was immediately amazed by the freedom and independence they encourage for all of the young students in their classroom and the desire for their students to try new things and explore their abilities that both teachers exhibit. A variety of play stations are available in the classroom and every day each student is able to freely pick where they would like to play. Initially, I questioned the freedom and expected chaos in the classroom but because both teachers have embraced the freedom of choice from the start of the school year, the classroom has developed structure and the students respect and demonstrate gratitude for the mutual trust that has developed. I am unfamiliar with the promoting of freedom in the classroom but I am overjoyed to see the abundance of choice that students have in school today without taking away from a positive learning environment.

Miss K is constantly coming up with new ideas to integrate learning into the scheduled routine of the Pre-K students which keeps each child engaged and curious. This week, we did a finger painting activity which allowed the students to explore the primary colours and the result of mixing them together. Rather than shying away from the mess, Miss K encouraged them to smudge, swirl, and squish the paint which inspired the students to have fun and be adventurous with the activity and allowed them to challenge their brains to be imaginative.

Beyond special activities, Miss K is constantly adapting her classroom to suit her students’ interests and to reflect community events and holidays. When I first started assisting in her classroom, hearts were a major them and incorporated into different play station including the treasures in the rice bin, the playdough cookie cutters, and the crafting area. This week she started transitioning into an Easter theme and set up a water table with sea animals in it because she noticed her students taking interest in splashing in the sink.  I admire Miss K’s ability to adapt her classroom to better suit her unique group of students and to provide an environment where there is always something new to explore and learn.

Positivity is hugely represented in the Pre-K classroom which is another commendable teaching style of Miss K. She is always sure to explain why someone’s actions may have been inappropriate or wrong and then elaborates on what would have been a more acceptable behaviour to ensure each student has the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and correct their actions. She also encourages each student to solve disputes with classmates independently rather than always relying on a teacher to step in as a way of helping her students recognize their self-worth. As another way of inspiring self-respect, Miss K will have her students give themselves hugs or pats on the back to reward good actions or blow kisses to their brain to acknowledge smart thinking.

The teaching staff in the Pre-K classroom are constantly learning from their students which allows them to improve the classroom environment for the students in return. They allow their creativity and imagination to shine through their teaching styles in order to plan activities that engage all of the students and are educational and playful. Learning through play is the motto of the staff in the Pre-K classroom and by letting their originality shine through, they act as excellent role models for their curious and exuberant students.

Sincerely an inspired to be creative Miss S

M.J. Coldwell Elementary Community – Week 2

M.J Coldwell Elementary school immediately welcomed me into their community by providing me with a feeling of fellowship and inviting me to join in their common goal of educating the students. As a whole, the school has a strong attitude towards the importance of reading. Mr. Clake, the principal, proudly showed me the school library where books are arranged by reading level and every class has regular opportunities to check out new books and challenge their reading abilities. For the month of February, M.J Coldwell is holding their Read-a-Thon as a way of celebrating literacy and the enjoyment and knowledge reading provides while raising money to be put towards new books and reading materials for the school. The school also emphasizes the significance of the arts and offers a developed music room stocked with a vast variety of instruments and everyday household items that encourage creativity and teamwork as the students work together to produce harmonious tunes while being introduced to different types of music. The school holds annual concerts and encourages the students to become involved with choir and their drama club to continue to express themselves through the arts. Physical activity is also encouraged through gym class, recess, extracurricular sports opportunities, and a grand assortment of equipment which permits the children to try something new, familiarizes the students with the diversity of sports, and permits active exercise. Community involvement is encouraged school-wide through the School Community Council (SCC) which permits the participation of parents, guardians, and community members with the students learning and school experience.  Specifically, in the Pre-Kindergarten class where I have been placed, family days are held monthly to encourage the inclusion of family members in the students learning processes and provide them with ideas to continue educational play beyond the walls of the school. The staff embrace their students and engage with them both educationally and personally to create a positive environment where the students feel safe and appreciated. Along with the teaching staff, six educational assistants are employed at the school to ensure the students receive the attention they need and that the classrooms are appropriately managed to meet the requirements of their students. M.J Coldwell Elementary School demonstrates the importance of community, embraces common goals, and encourages communal collaboration.

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This week I spent Valentines Day in the pre-kindergarten class where we celebrated the importance of loving one another and sharing together. It was heartwarming to participate in not only the typical traditions such as wearing pink and red and sharing treats and cards but also in the lessons of giving and encouraging the inclusion of the entire class. It was a day full of love and heart-shaped fun which demonstrated the importance of integrating educational values and lessons into play.

Sincerely Miss S. – a proud member of the M.J. Coldwell community

Getting to Know my Classroom Environment – Week 1

February 7th, 2018 I was welcomed into the Pre-Kindergarten class at M.J Coldwell Elementary School in Regina as Miss. S, a teacher. Bright colours and interactive signs fill the classroom creating an inviting environment where I feel excited and ready to embrace the experience. Play areas include a painting and craft station which allows creativity to be expressed, stacking blocks and Playdough to encourage imagination, a dollhouse which inspires communication and healthy household relationships, dinosaurs, trucks, cars and so much more providing the students with variety and the flexibility to choose what interests them.

 

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Sixteen kids between the ages of three and four crowd the classroom with curious minds and frank personalities. Each of them equally loves to be heard and share their thoughts amongst each other and in front of the whole class. Immediately they engaged in conversation with me and showed interest in who I was and why I was there. I loved their enthusiasm about having someone new in their class and how open they were to participate in a conversation with me and ask questions such as how old I was, and if I had any children. The students are excited about everything and show the desire to learn, create, and try new things creating a spirited setting where I can’t help but smile to know that I am making a difference in their lives and preparing them for their future years of education.

 

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Pre-K was many years ago for me, however, I do remember my classroom’s appearance comparing similarly in elements such as the carpet for story time, a variety of play stations and bright and cheery colours forming a positive atmosphere. I was immediately impressed by the independence and individuality that is taught and encouraged in the classroom which differs from my elementary school experience where more structure and uniformity were emphasized.

I quickly learned that Pre-K students love to explore, are attracted to the unknown, and openly share their feelings permitting for an environment where there is constantly something new and exciting grasping their attention and helping them to develop educationally while still being able to play and test their imaginations.I am excited to be involved with  Pre-K class and I hope to strengthen my relationship with my students in the future weeks while simultaneously exploring other aspects of the teaching role.

Sincerely, eye-opened and excited Miss S.