Thursday, August 11, 2011

don't jump in yet

I spent my first day of work learning the philosophy of the school.  It was like going to your first SCUBA class, swim suit on, and learning that SCUBA stands for "Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus" but not learning how to put on the gear or to go underwater.

The school uses a "Reggio Emilia inspired." philosophy.  I'm sort of familiar with the idea.  Instead of being a teacher-led classroom, it becomes child-led as the interests of the children guide the group activities.  They talked a lot about how much planning it takes to make this work, but never said what exactly "planning" entails.  They explained that teachers had to be researchers to "learn how the children learn," but didn't explain how they take data.  Best I could tell "data" refers to photographing and filming the kids in action.

So, I'm a bit confused.  But there were about twelve of us who were new,  joining a preschool of 80 teachers and 20 facilitators (of which I'll be one) so I can't have been the only one who really just wanted to get in the water.  We have a few more dates for orientations, both with the preschool teachers and alone with just the special ed. facilitators. 

Another question.  When you toss a child into a child-led classroom, you expect them to explore.  Kids are curious and they'll mess with stuff, ask questions and see what their peers are doing.  All of that will lead them to do more exploring.  But, toss a special needs child into that room and s/he is likely to either (a) hide under the table (b) climb the bookshelves or (c) wander away.  How do you let a child lead when the child doesn't want to lead or leads inappropriately?

I will learn this all in due time, apparently.

I'm to be paired with a little boy whom I believe I will call "Danny" for purposes of this blog.  I have not yet met Danny, but was told he is "cute as a button."  (All I really need to know, right?) According to his file (which I was given on my way out of the meeting) he is three years old. He has a thin corpus collosum, poor fine motor abilities, sensory issues, hypotonia (floppiness) and feeding problems.  His mother and father are well educated and mom writes that he is "high functioning."  He sees a developmental pediatrician, a GI doctor, a neurologist, two feeding specialists, a geneticist, a speech therapist and a physical therapist.  I have now learned that I will be part of an established team as his two teachers and I join that long list.

Also in my file folder is blank assessment form.  The Hawaii Early Learning Profile, which I have seen and maybe even used before.  Cool, I get to assess him then.

See what I can learn all by myself?  Who needs orientations? Throw me in the water; I can swim.


  1. I know that organizations like to throw around important-sounding, but essentially meaningless words to those they're trying to impress. This is often just how marketing works. Toss out words that sound significant, and make your target audience feel good.

    But it seems to me that you take it a step too far when those important-sounding but content-free words are all you give the people who are supposed to deliver the program.

    Oh, well. I'm sure you're smart enough to figure out what YOU mean by the jargon, and deliver it meaningfully and effectively, even if *they* don't quite know what they mean...

  2. @MaryP
    I will remain optimistic. Either they will get into the nitty-gritty at the next orientation date, or when I'm alone with the rest of the special ed. facilitators I will ask bluntly what they're up to. I can run with it and just try to blend in if I must, but I suspect that my side of the game involves more data keeping, of the real kind, than theirs does. Patience! They don't start school until Sept.