Monday, January 18, 2016

3 Things that have changed the way I teach preschool

After teaching toddlers and preschoolers for nearly 10 years, I finally took the time to put all of the things I had learned into 3 different products.  These products incorporate all that I have learned from great mentors, as well as lessons that I had to learn myself.  Teaching is a journey, and all of us who've experienced it have something to share.  That's why it was so important for me to share my insights with all of you.




Here are the three products that have given my teaching purpose and direction:

Preschool Portfolio Pack:

I've used similar portfolios and checklists for years, but they've never been designed to work together.  The portfolio and the checklist that are included in my Preschool Portfolio Pack are both aligned to early learning development standards.  The portfolio should be used to collect data and evidence that will help you complete the checklist.  Both can follow the child over a number of years, to show growth and progress, as well as areas that need improvement.  The best thing about this portfolio pack is that the portfolio and the checklist can be completed and saved entirely on the computer, meaning that you don't have to store portfolios and keep track of checklists and files.  If you choose, you can keep them on a service like Google Drive or Dropbox, and then share them with parents digitally, so that they can review them whenever it is convenient.  This portfolio has been so helpful that I also created an Infant/Toddler version.

Inspire Curriculum:

When I first started teaching I worked at a Reggio inspired school.  I didn't know the Reggio philosophy, and I read a lot of books about it.  I learned a lot, but my biggest struggle was incorporating all of the best things from the Reggio philosophy, while still creating standards based lesson plans and following licensing and accreditation rules.  Not to mention continuing to meet parent's expectations about academics and kindergarten prep, while encouraging children to learn through exploration and follow their own interests.

The Inspire Curriculum includes all of the methods that I developed while exploring ways to mesh the Reggio Philosophy with American early learning expectations.  It's a framework for using children's interests to encourage not only creativity and exploration, but also language and literacy development, math and science concepts, and social emotional skills.  It includes the main principles of the Reggio Philosophy, observation, reflection, and documentation, as well as the early learning standards that guide preschool education in the US.


Encouraging Curiosity:

If the Inspire Curriculum is the framework for using the Reggio Philosophy in a standards-based classroom, then Encouraging Curiosity is the in-depth, highly detailed, how-to.  I wrote this book with my former co-teacher, the one person who was there with me for this entire journey.  We share examples from our own classrooms, stories of attempts and investigations that didn't go as planned (and what we learned from them), and solutions for common struggles.  For me, this book has been a reminder to persevere, to not be afraid to try new things, and to follow the children's lead whenever possible.  It was written for teachers, by teachers, which is what makes it so valuable!

What products have changed the way you teach? Feel free to share links in the comments!

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