Sunday, April 19, 2009

St. Mary's Lab 6

Based upon observations and interactions with the St. Mary’s students, describe what you have learned about young children? Provide examples of activities you felt were appropriate. Why? Were there activities that were not appropriate? Why?

I have learned so much about children. I have learned that all students are very different. I learned to communicate with different kids differently. Just one example being, some kids like to be joked around with, while there are others who have a much more serious attitude.

Another thing I learned about the students was that different age groups handle activities differently. The younger St. Mary’s students needed a much more of a structured environment. They cannot entertain themselves as long as the older kids can. When we gave the older students choices of what they wanted to do, they handled this much better.

Another thing I learned about young children was that you need to be very assertive with them. If they see a weakness in you taking control, they will walk all over you. It is important to set the tone on Day 1, of that when you are speaking everyone is looking at you and paying attention.

I learned how much young students love any kind of physical activity. I forgot what it was like to be that age and to love mostly any type of game or activity where I was running around. You don’t have to be the best athlete to enjoy playing these activities.

I have learned that children can be very clingy. They love to just grab on to you. Like being assertive, it is important to set the rules on keeping your hands to yourself on Day 1.

Mostly all of the activities we did at St. Mary’s were very appropriate. In last week’s Lab write up, I focused on some of the activities that were not appropriate, which were only a few. The activities that we brought were appropriate for a number of reasons. Most of them were controlled, well for the most part, as much as they could have been. Secondly, there was a ton of physical activity taking place. Students were constantly moving and running around. Thirdly, we provided a safe environment for our students. We didn’t do anything that would put their health in danger. And very importantly, we brought games to them that provided them with excitement and fun. We didn’t just bring them boring activities. We brought them creative games that they could enjoy.

Based upon your interactions with St. Mary’s PRE K program, describe your experience. How was this different from working with the older age students? Did you enjoy working with younger age children? Why or Why not?

The PRE K program experience was a very interesting experience. I have a little cousin who is about 4 years old and I spend a ton of time with her. So I thought my PRE K experience would be very easy and that I would know exactly what to do with them. But it was actually very challenging for me. All four and five year olds are different. They all like different things and are entertained by different things.

One thing I noticed that most of them all had in common was that they all loved attention. They were also saying things like, “Look at me” and “Watch what I can do”. They love hearing compliments. One little compliment makes them very happy and puts a big smile on their face.

I did enjoy working with the younger age children, but I think I enjoyed working with the older St. Mary’s students a little bit more. It was a good experience for me to work with these young children though. I had a hard time indentifying with these younger kids at times because they use their imagination so much. Using my imagination is not something I usually tend to do so this was a challenge for me. The older students didn’t do this as much, so it was a little easier for me to identify with them. Its not that I don’t like to use my imagination, it’s just that I need to get used to doing it, and I need more practice with it.

During your field experience, each of you worked with children in the cafeteria setting. Describe the fine motor activities you observed. Do you feel that working on fine motor activities is something we should work on in Physical Education.

Some of the fine motor activities I observed were fourth graders holding their cards in their hands while playing slap jack. Both of the kids I was watching were both right handed. However, one kid held his pile in his left hand so he could be quicker to slap with his right. The other student kept is pile in his right hand because it was more comfortable for him but this consequently made his slap slower because he had to slap with his left hand.

They younger students played less complicated games in the cafeteria. They used more of their imagination. They were building things like LEGO airplanes and holding them while flying them through the air. They were holding them like they were gold. They were holding these planes with two hands even though they could have easily been lifted with just one hand. In there imagination they were holding something very valuable.

It didn’t seem like the younger girls were very much into the LEGOS. It looked like they were just happy with putting together a puzzle. One of the puzzles seemed so easy to me and I thought they would complete it like 5 seconds. I forgot how challenging puzzles were when I was that young. A puzzle that I could have quickly done took them like ten minutes.
I do feel we should work on fine motor activities in Physical Education. These are like the fundamentals for more difficult things. If they don’t know how to do small things, like how to hold something correctly or how to do a small skill most efficiently they are going to struggle with the more complicated things. Fine Motor skills are like the building blocks for everything else.

Reflecting on your growth as a future teacher, what have you learned from this experience that has given you insight as to your individual “teaching style”. Has your teaching style emerged based upon your experience and interaction at St. Mary’s. If yes, in what way. If not, how else might this occur?

After teaching at St. Mary’s, I still don’t feel like I have a specific teaching style. I think it will develop over time as I continue to spend more time with kids like over the summer at the summer camp I work at. However, I do feel like I know a heck of a lot more how to teach children then I do before this experience. It is one thing to talk in class about the right things to do with students and this is helpful, but until you actually experience interaction with young children you can’t completely learn. Interacting with students had taught me so much about teaching.

I think one of the main things that this experience has taught me is that you have to be assertive. If you’re not assertive, you are not going to be a successful teacher. Children will disrespect you and not pay attention to you at all if you are not assertive and firm with them.

I have learned a couple good strategies with dealing with the students. One of the things I learned involved dealing with students that weren’t acting appropriately during the activities. If you just shout out to them while the game is going, “Hey, stop what your doing”, it may not work. I discovered through my experience that actually calling the kid over to you away from the game and looking them right in the eye and saying something works much better. I feel like you make a better connection with them when you have this straight forward interaction with them away from the game.

Another thing that definitely helped when dealing with students was getting on a knee and getting down to there level. This also made me feel like I was making a better connection with them. It probably seemed a lot less intimidating for them. I used this strategy a lot in the PRE K.

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