Don't say don't and never say never

This post is as much for teachers as for parents.  Stephanie and I recently attended an early childhood education conference where we heard a keynote speech from one of ECE's most acclaimed teachers.  It was useful for so many reasons.  I always enjoy hearing what other teachers are doing.  Talking to fellow preschool teachers is the best way to learn about cool new projects, ways to handle to behavior, how to arrange the classroom, etc.  Teachers are such a great resource for teachers.

Where it can be a challenge is when teachers start thinking that their way is the only way.  We are all teaching in different environments to a particular group of individual children.  What works for one classroom can not work in every classroom (this is one area where our public education system fails children AND teachers).  Truth be told what works for me on Monday may or may not work on Tuesday.

Calendar was thing we were told "never" to do with the kids.  The Beanpatch kids love when we do calendar....

I enjoy celebrating the different types of education out there.  I like to pull a little from each philosophy and apply it where it will work in our classroom environment.  I also believe I have more to learn from other educators who aren't tied down to one philosophy.

A surefire way to make a learning experience feel unnatural is to tell teachers or parents exactly what they shouldn't say or do.  How can I have a natural conversation with a child if I have a list of things that I'm not supposed to say?  I will constantly worry that I might say the thing I'm not supposed to say.  I will spend time searching for other words or other ways to interact instead of paying attention to the child I'm interacting with and letting the conversation flow naturally.

Of course, there are many wrong ways and many right ways to handle an interaction with a child.  What is the best way to teach a teacher how to teach?  I don't have much experience doing this, but from the students perspective I can tell you I learn best when I am given a goal and given the means to reach that goal on my own, without very specific instructions influencing my interactions.

So, don't say don't.  You can tell me what works in your classroom and your reasons for your practices, but simply telling me not to do something doesn't teach me anything.

And never say never.  Maybe something will never work for you or in your classroom environment, but my situation is different and my kids are different.  What doesn't work for you, might work like a charm in my classroom.

--Leslie

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