Everything I Know I Learned in Pre-K

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Nov 05 2011

Professional Development

Yesterday, for maybe the first time since Institute ended, I feel like I learned something really valuable during a PD session. Honestly, it might be the first time since the middle of Institute. I have been frustrated by the way my PD has been going.

Nothing during the TFA required week of PD after institute ended was aimed at Early Childhood, and a lot of the stuff we had to do for the sessions ended up not being things I needed (or was allowed to implement) in my classroom. Additionally, I still had not been hired by that time, and so I didn’t have a basis for understanding the work I should be doing in the first place.

Since I began working, we had the required all-corps event last weekend, and again I felt I was wasting my time. Although they broke the ECE group off from the rest of our M,TLD group so we could meet just the 10 or so of us, the entire event had little to do with us or our situations. For an event based on data and assessment, I am not exactly in a place where I have any. I’ve barely been in my classroom for three weeks (two weeks by the time of the event), and so much has happened between students leaving and new students coming, my assistant being fired, etc… that there is little opportunity for me to even think about gathering data.

The other PD I have been doing has been observation based. TFA and my school agreed that I should observe another teacher to get ideas for my classroom and to see how a smooth-running classroom handles transitions and other routines. On Thursday, I met with my M,TLD who told me that the agreement had been that I should see a number of different teachers to see who did things the best, whose teaching style is most like mine, in order to find someone who could mentor me, and whose classroom I could look to as a model. But that has not been happening… instead I have been going to the same classroom each time. I teach Universal Pre-K (UPK) in the morning and then have a different schedule in the afternoon since UPK only runs from 9-11:30. What is unusual though is that I have the same kids throughout the day. The first time they sent me to do the observation, my director came to my room at 10:30 and told me I had to leave then to go do my observation. This meant that I was not only interrupted during my lesson, but missed the most crucial part of the day at the other school in terms of observation. Since then, I was meant to go to the same school two more times, although after talking with my director, have only been once. I have gotten some good take-aways from the other class, but I think that a lot of the things that are lacking in my classroom are lacking in hers too, and so I am not learning enough from watching one person.

Yesterday, I was sent to PD run by the city specifically for UPK teachers. It was a revelation. Firstly, because UPK is a new program, all of the teachers doing it are only beginning to get used to it and understand it. Some are farther ahead than I am because, 1. they’ve been in their classrooms since August or September, and 2. their schools have implemented the program completely, rather than just adapting the morning schedule (without making any changes to curriculum, guidelines, and standards). I am excited to take what I learned and apply it to my room.

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