I think there is no better job in the world than being an early childhood educator. It's a job that requires you to take on many different roles. As I was thinking about the various parts I play every day in the classroom, I began to think of teaching tips that could be associated with 3 inspirational movie characters. My husband, the movie buff, would be proud. Here's a little bit of inspiration to start your school year.
Teaching Tip #1: Be Miss Honey. The best advice I ever received when I started teaching was: "Every child wants the pretty teacher. Be her." This teacher went on to explain what she meant by "pretty." Every child wants a teacher who is professionally dressed and well-groomed, one who smells nice and smiles a lot, just like Miss Honey, the nurturing, inspirational teacher from the movie, Matilda. Every child wants and deserves a teacher who comes to school every day with his or her best foot forward: well-prepared, patient, and enthusiastic. I remind myself every day that my students are worthy of the best me I have to offer.
Teaching Tip #2: Be Indiana Jones. If you teach preschool and kindergarten, you are not merely a teacher, but an explorer. The world is vast and wide and full of adventures these little ones are just beginning to discover. I have a colleague who is one of the best teachers I have ever seen. I think one reason why is because she doesn't merely teach her class, she explores with them. This teacher recently discovered a baby bird while on an outing with her preschoolers. As they watched the tiny bird, you could see the fascination in their eyes, taking it all in with a sense of childhood wonder. I strive every day to be part teacher and part tour guide, assisting my students in their journey of discovery.
Teaching Tip #3: Be Robin. Just as the sun rises every day, so are there constant playground disagreements. Nine times out of ten, problems arise simply because someone doesn't want to take second billing. All the girls want to be the mommy, not the baby. All the boys want to be the Red Power Ranger for Halloween. (And get quite upset to find that more than one such outfit exists!) But, as a teacher, I have to remember that my job is to be Robin, not Batman. Let me explain. Another great teacher I know often says, "Sometimes helping isn't helping." He means that our job is to know when to step back, to assist if necessary, then move out of the way so the child can shine. If you have ever read some of the literature on scaffolding, you know exactly what I am talking about. Our task as teachers is to help each child remain in his/her zone of proximal development, the place where he/she needs only a little help to succeed. Sometimes, in order to be a better teacher, I find myself placing my hands behind my back, resisting the urge to do something for a child, watching them struggle, finally accomplishing the task on their own.
I hope you keep these 3 characters in mind as you return to work with some of the smallest students. Let their archetypes inspire you to be the best teacher you can be, each and every day.
By: Teacher Tam
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