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1 Melissa April 7, 2014 at 11:53 am

I need some help. I am the lead teacher in a preschool class. We have 11 students. At the end of the school year we have a graduation ceremony. The students perform something short and normally say something. It varies every year. But this year my kids do not like to perform. Most of my students are very shy. I may have three that will make it to the stage without crying. I would like to have a graduation ceremony that is special for the parents but done in a way that does not make my students upset. I always have 1 or 2 that cry during graduation or suddenly won’t speak. But this is 8 out of 11 students. I could use any suggestion.

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2 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. May 2, 2014 at 11:15 am

Hi Melissa,
Rather than teaching the children something new just to present for a special event, consider having the children share songs or things they have been doing all year long. Pick songs they think are funny or that they enjoy doing as a group. Don’t worry about a specific theme. Instead, focus on highlighting the gifts and talents your students shine in every day. It could even be as simple as you reading a story while they hold up props to illustrate the story. Keep the process fun and simple.

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3 Natalie peacock August 16, 2014 at 9:31 am

I do a slide show of pictures from our year. We all watch together and then I call each child up to get their copy of the video & their graduation certificate. I’ll usually read the first certificate saying congratulations to the class and that they are moving on, but after that I just call out their names so it isn’t too drawn out. I also had the kids decorate a cd case for their copy of the slide show this year, so they were extra excited to come and get their copy. I think the key is to make it comfortable and personal.

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4 Jen Asimow April 12, 2014 at 8:27 am

Hi Deborah-
My name is Jennifer Asimow and I am an Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education at Harold Washington College, one of the City College of Chicago. Two years ago, a colleague from the University of Illinois and a colleague from National-Louis University and I wrote a grant to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange focused on increasing math competencies in home-based child care providers.
We developed a website called Math at Home and I have been the primary (only) blogger since July, 2012. As this grant cycle ends, we are currently looking for more ways to increase readership and expand our reach. We developed Math at Home as a free and open access site. During the next few months, I would like to add a blog roll and to (hopefully) get our site on other great early childhood blogs’ blogrolls.
Is there any chance that you would be interested in adding the Math at Home site to your blog roll? I will be adding Teach Preschool to mine, regardless. Thanks so much for your time and keep writing this wonderful resource.
Jen

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5 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. May 2, 2014 at 11:13 am

It is nice to meet you Jen. I am not sure how I can help but will be sure to check out your site!

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6 Eddie Daniels April 29, 2014 at 11:49 pm

Great resource for preschool teachers! I’d like to offer my services at School Element, a new resource for creating preschool and daycare center identities for free!

Feel free to email me with any questions and check us out!

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7 Hallie Burke April 30, 2014 at 3:04 pm

I am currently studying to become an early education teacher. What’s the best advice you can give someone, as a preservice teacher?

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8 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. May 2, 2014 at 11:07 am

Ooooh, I am not sure I can give you just one piece of advice. I think the most important thing is to understand that there is nothing that will teach you more about early learning and the development of young children than experience and time in the classroom. Observe the children all the time. Understand what motivates, inspires, and helps the children find personal success in your classroom. Define success not by what the children know but what the children achieve.

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9 Christina Darden May 6, 2014 at 12:26 pm

Hello Ms. Burke,
Your first teaching job is both exciting and scary. You will have some great days and some will be more challenging. Just like children we learn from our experiences. There are so many tips for new teachers. Here are a few:

1. Be prepared and organized. This means having materials ready for whole group and small group activities as well as for centers. It also means being prepared for mishaps like spills, accidents, and runny noses. It means keeping sanitation and safety in mind: washing your hands and theirs on arrival and throughout the day; cleaning and sanitizing tables for meals; having tissues and gloves handy; locking up poisons and anything that says to keep out of reach of children.

2. Establish a regular routine and schedule. Keep whole group gatherings short. Remember that children have varied attention spans and learn through play and active engagement. Read every day. Limit transitions. Balance active and quiet times as well as child initiated and adult facilitated time. Classroom management is often an issue for new teachers. Many discipline situations can be corrected by examining your schedule and environment to prevent problems before they occur. While it’s important to have a consistent routine, it’s also important to be flexible. If children aren’t interested or acting up, change plans. Develop a partnership with your assistant. She or he can make your job easier or more difficult. Discuss your role and theirs as well as expectations for each part of the schedule at the start of the year. Address problems when they are small and don’t save them inside and grumble.

3. Be an explorer. See things as fresh and new. Children will pick up on your enthusiasm. Expand your interests.
Ask open-ended questions (I wonder what will happen if…how did you do/make that?). Respect children’s ideas, feelings and thoughts. Have fun. You chose this profession for a reason. Enjoy each day. Don’t worry if something doesn’t’t work out as planned. Reflect and learn from your experiences.

4. Get to know every child as a unique individual. Every child is different and special. The best way to teach children is to first understand them. Children need to know that you respect and value them, which is the message they get when you take the time to talk with them, observe them, and learn about them as people. Find out what makes each child tick. What are their interests, temperaments, and learning styles? What motivates them? How do they learn best? What skills and talents do they have? What are their challenges? What special circumstances are there that affect them? With this knowledge you can teach children in a way that capitalizes on their strengths and builds their confidence and competence.

5. Become a keen and regular observer. Observation is probably a teacher’s best tool. Learn how to be an objective observer right from the start. By taking a factual look at what children do and say you build relationships. You learn what children are capable of doing developmentally, how they approach solving problems, how they spend their time, how they interact with others, and what they are learning. For teachers, observation serves a number of vital purposes, including being able to keep track of all your children’s growth and development, deciding whether to change or modify the environment, and determining if your curriculum needs to be altered to better serve children. The better observer you are, the more skilled you will become as a teacher.

6. Keep your sense of humor close by. Teaching is a serious job; there’s probably nothing more important. But it’s also a fun job. You want to never lose sight of the joy of being with young children. When a child does something humorous, share his delight. Laughing over funny rhymes makes phonemic awareness both more fun and impressionable. Celebrating the humor in a storybook like Agatha’s Feather Bed: Not Just Another Wild Goose Story (Carmen Agra Deedy) or a song like “I Know an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly”, makes the experience more memorable. It’s easy to obsess over problems and worry about things you wish you’d done differently. Humor, though, brings much-needed perspective. If you can maintain your humor, you’ll be a much happier teacher–and most likely, a better one too.

7. Be yourself. Just as every child has his/her own personality, so do educators. As you become familiar with how each child learns and experiments let each child become familiar with you. Let them know who you are as well. Opportunities to build positive relationships will benefit children socially and emotionally. Serve as a model for the relationships you’d like them to build with each other.

8. Experiment. Young children explore and experiment, and so should you. Try out new ideas you may have. As you get to know the children, your planning for activities and interest areas will change. Go with it, and always ask yourself, “Developmentally, is this appropriate? What do I want to accomplish by planning/implementing this?” Carefully choose the materials and manipulatives you provide for the children. Always keep in mind that these materials should always be: A, working and useable; B, related to your study and purpose of play; C, purposefully implemented to help children reach goals and objectives.

9. Reflect. Engaging in self-reflection always leads to improvement. After you try something, ask yourself, “What worked about this? What didn’t? Why? What could I do differently?” Don’t worry if something doesn’t initially work the way you had planned. Learning by doing is very effective, and when you reflect you allow yourself the opportunity to improve.

10. Be patient. It takes time to settle in to a new program or school. Allow yourself time to adjust to your surroundings and the colleagues, children, and parents you will come to interact with on a daily basis.

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10 Dawnna Benoit May 1, 2014 at 8:29 pm

Hello, Deborah.
I am curious, do you offer a dramatic play center in your preschool program? I offer a part day preschool program in my home. Space is a premium, so everything must be intentional, as I am sure you know. I am considering eliminated the dramatic play area in order to make space for other learning opportunities.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this.
Dawnna Benoit
Everyday Discoveries Preschool

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11 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. May 2, 2014 at 11:00 am

Hi Dawnna,
We don’t have a dramatic play center. Instead, we have dramatic play prop boxes so the children can still enjoy the dramatic play experience in the very limited amount of space I have. So for example, one box is filled with dolls and blankets and other baby doll accessories. Another box is filled with telephones and key boards, and so on. I think providing props for dramatic play is still important but instead of keeping those items in one area of the classroom, my students can walk around with the items and use them through out the classroom. It isn’t unusual to find a telephone or two over in the block center just in case the blocks fall and someone needs to call 911:) I also set up small dramatic play centers on occasion like this DIY Pizza Box Kitchen: http://www.teachpreschool.org/2012/12/diy-pizza-box-kitchen/

I would suggest keeping what ever the kids most enjoy and then integrating learning activities within the centers with any choice you make:)

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12 Annie Monahan June 4, 2014 at 9:43 pm

Hi, I am an ECSE teacher in a south suburb of Chicago. We are currently using Teaching Strategies GOLD for assessment. I was wondering how other EC educators share the information from this assessment tool with families of students with special needs… I also find it very difficult to document the small increments of progress of some of the students in my classroom. Also do you document the child’s growth in EasyIEP?? Is there another assessment tool that is better for ECSE?? Thanks so much!!:)

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13 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. June 6, 2014 at 9:45 am

I wish I could help you with that Annie but I do not use the Teaching Strategies Gold program.

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14 Darlene Nichols July 24, 2014 at 8:48 am

Are you going to do the postcard exchange this year?

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15 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. July 24, 2014 at 10:02 pm

I don’t think so. I just don’t have enough help to get it all organized!

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16 Jen Hayes August 13, 2014 at 6:22 am

Hi, I am writing to find out more about sharing blog posts on your Friday link up on Facebook. We would love to share our blog activities and would like permission to share. I would also like to know if there are specific guidelines that I need to follow.

Thank you,
Jen

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17 Catherine Ross August 21, 2014 at 1:31 am

Dear Deborah,

I am a homeschooling, stay-at-home mum to two brats! I used to be a teacher before my kids were born, but I am totally enjoying spending all my time with them now. I go through your blog posts quite often and have found them really helpful, especially the learning resources. The Infant & Toddler section is my personal favorite due to its wide array of topics, games and fun activities that I can get my little ones engaged with.

During my research on preschooling my toddler, I came across quite a number of resources that include online learning games, worksheets, videos, new trends in preschooling and more. With my experience as a teacher and my hands-on activities with my little ones, I have some great ideas that I’d like to share with other mums. I would love to guest blog for your website, where I hope I can make some interesting contributions that your readers will find useful.

Please let me know if you would like to discuss the idea with me. I look forward to your reply.
Best,
Catherine Ross

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18 Lumi Spetcu August 29, 2014 at 3:40 pm

Deborah, My husband and I just moved to Dallas with two children and we’re desperately looking for a preschool like yours. We will probably end up living in Frisco/ Plano areas, but I’m open to driving my dauther to a magical place even if it’s a bit further away. Do you have any recommendations? Thank you so much!

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