Storyteller, March 2011
Teaching to Learn
…when we teach others what we know, we engage in a reciprocal process that is congruent with a social constructivist approach to teaching and learning—and also helps us to fulfill our rights as human beings to feel competent and respected by others—and to respect others (Maslow, 1983).
Dear Families and Friends,
Last week our preschool program reached an important milestone. On Friday, from 9:15 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., we hosted our first Educators Tour. A diverse group of 13 educators from other schools and organizations met with us to learn about our work with children and families, spent about an hour visiting our environments and observing children and teachers, and then met with Anne, Craig and me to share reflections and questions.
The visitors included a group of teachers and their director from a preschool in Long Beach that is the oldest social welfare agency in that area, a new Mentor Teacher from Growing Place, Anne’s mother, Carolyn, who works at the elementary level at a school in the San Fernando Valley, an instructor from Pierce College who also owns a preschool in the Valley and was accompanied by one of her teachers, a director/owner of an LAUP funded pre-K program in Pacoima, the executive director of the UCLA Child Development Center, and a program specialist from Connections for Children. Some members of our tour already had a deep understanding of Reggio inspired work and others were just beginning their exploration of the approach.
I began the morning meeting with an overview of our program and gave each participant a folder that contained information about the organizational structure of our classrooms and our staff, our brochure and some tools we use for our observations of small groups. There were questions about the emergent nature of our curriculum and participants co-constructed answers that included fascinating examples of small group work taking place at their sites.
During the visits to our indoor and outdoor spaces, I enjoyed seeing our guests look together at our documentation panels, classrooms, outdoor spaces and materials, and engage in brief conversations with our staff. Of course, our school looked exceptionally beautiful. Maybe you noticed?! We all spent longer than usual hours preparing environments and documentation. A significant amount of housekeeping also took place. . .!
During the closing meeting of the Tour, the dialogue wandered from kindergarten readiness to teacher autonomy. Relationships began to develop between participants and the group started, I observed, to form an identity, with participants relaxing a little and sharing the challenges and struggles they experience in their own work. Over coffee, fruit, pastries and bagels, the conversation flowed. At the end of our morning together, we hugged and made hopeful plans to get together again.
As you know, our staff has participated in numerous Learning Tours at the amazing Reggio inspired schools in Santa Monica—and in Reggio Emilia, Itay. We are grateful to the teachers and directors at those centers for sharing their knowledge and experience with us and for guiding us in our learning as we continue to explore this very challenging and inspiring way of working with children and families. We could not have come so far these past four years without the Educators Tours to the other schools and we appreciate your support of those experiences.
And now, it is our turn to share our journey with other educators who are interested in learning about the environment as teacher, documentation, the teacher as researcher, and the image of the child as a curious and competent learner. Research shows that when we teach others what we know, we engage in a reciprocal process that is congruent with a social constructivist approach to teaching and learning—and also helps us to fulfill our rights as human beings to feel competent and respected by others—and to respect others (Maslow, 1983).
Friday’s Educators Tour represented the first, we hope, of numerous teaching and learning opportunities that will take place at PPS in the months and years to come. We have much to learn, but we also have a lot to share.
Click on the links below or scroll down for this month’s topics:
- Committee Updates
- Parent Readers
- Breakfast with Loved Ones
- Pajama Night
- Family Traditions at PPS
- Yoga Class
- March Calendar
- Summer & Fall Calendar
- Preschool Mission Statement
The Outreach Committee met last week to discuss which organizations we would like to support with new initiatives for the spring. Members decided to continue our work with Upward Bound House and with Heal the Bay.
Last year’s projects with both organizations were very successful and we are looking forward this year to another Saturday Beach Clean-up (which will include a lunch for participants) and to another collection of items needed by Upward Bound House in their effort to provide transitional housing for homeless families with children. Nancy Marcus, Mary Ann Hereford, Mary Nadler, and Lisa and Hugh Fitzgerald will be keeping us informed about these new initiatives. Thank you!
Nancy also met with parent volunteers last week to share guidelines for reading to children in classrooms. We have chosen Friday as our Parent Reader day, but if your child does not attend school on Fridays, you are welcome to make arrangements with teachers to read on another day of the week. The Sign-up Sheets are posted at each classroom and the Guidelines are also available from teachers or from Nancy. This is a wonderful opportunity for you to be involved in your child’s classroom and the children really love having parents read to them.
Breakfast with Loved Ones
Please join us on Friday, March 11th, between 8:45 and 9:30 a.m. for juice, fruit, bagels and muffins. The Sunflower and Dandelion breakfasts will take place in their classrooms. The Cherry Blossom and Rosemary rooms will serve their breakfasts outside (weather permitting). This event is especially for dads, but is inclusive of other men in children’s lives—or women, if dads are not available—and is an informal social gathering.
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A small fundraiser and fun-raiser, PJ Night is planned for Friday, March 25th, from 5:30 to 7:15 p.m. Children return to school in their pajamas for games, pizza and stories. Parents have a short, but sweet, night out! Tickets are $25 per child and the proceeds go to our Financial Assistance fund. Children love this event!
Family Traditions at PPS
We thank David and Mioko Chang, Doris and Rich Lin, and Mary Ann Hereford for sharing the celebration of Chinese New Year in our classrooms last month. Children enjoyed hearing stories, playing games, trying foods and helping to decorate their rooms with dragons and paper lanterns. The tradition-sharing has become a very lovely feature of family involvement at our preschool and we invite parents and relatives to continue their participation.
Yoga instructor, Sara Czenstochovsky, mom of Dhira in the Rosemary room, has offered to teach an after-school yoga class for children during the coming spring session. She will be sharing more information soon. Please let us know if your child would be interested in taking Sara’s class. Thank you.
- Wed., March 2
Afternoon with Teachers, Dandelion Room
- Friday, March 4
Susan Stone, Parent Educator
- Friday, March 11
Breakfast with Loved Ones
- Monday, March 14
Preschool closed for Teacher Work Day
- Wed., March 23
Afternoon with Teachers, Sunflower Room
- Friday, March 25
Preschool Mission Statement
Our mission is to serve our community by offering a preschool experience for children and families that celebrates diversity, creativity and kindness. These values are embedded within a rich child-centered curriculum that provides individuals and groups with opportunities to investigate, explore and express themselves through meaningful play.