Paula’s intro and first blog

I began working with young children in 1986. I worked in child care centers in high school and throughout my years in college. After finishing college I spent 11 years teaching 11-14 year olds.

I taught middle school Spanish for 11 years (of which I loved 9). Like the early years, adolescence is a period with a strong focus on the conflict between dependence on adults and independence. Navigating social relationships becomes central again. Like preschool, a language class is an environment that includes music, dance, and visual arts. Whatever a person’s interest, sports or history, fashion, technology—it can be explored in a language class. Ultimately it was things that I loved about preschool that drew me to middle school.

After 9 years my enthusiasm began to dim. What to do next? I was fortunate to receive a call from a friend who ran a Reggio inspired preschool. She needed an additional teacher in a classroom where there were children who needed extra support. I accepted and stepping back into an early childhood classroom felt like coming back home. I knew preschool was where I wanted to be.

During my last 10 years in preschool I have had the opportunity to teach in a collaborative class and a small self contained program designed for children who have experienced/are experiencing complex trauma. I have found that the data collection, accommodations and strategies which my partner used in our collaborative classroom can be helpful not only for children with identified special needs but for others as well.

This year I will be teaching in a typical classroom setting, 2 adults with 18 students. Generally the students are typically developing however I know already that one student has an autism diagnosis and is early in the Child find process. I will be able to take what I have learned from my collaborative and therapeutic classroom settings and apply them within a typical setting. It will be interesting to explore the feasibility and effectiveness of my previous methodology in this larger setting.

My career goal is to continue teaching for many years and to become a better teach each year. I am seeking the ECSE endorsement so that I can better serve students who are developing typically and those who are developing atypically.

I have been a part of IEP meetings in which families appeared to feel included and part of the process and some in which families appeared to feel less so. I have also heard parents talk about meetings in which they felt unheard and pressured. As a professional I want to be part of the former rather than the latter.

4 thoughts on “Paula’s intro and first blog

  1. Paula, your experience is so varied and wonderful! Your time in a Reggio inspired preschool is the most interesting to me personally as I taught Montessori preschool before I began working for Henrico County. I think the two approaches are aligned in their style and curriculum! The beauty of a Reggio room is so awe inspiring. Do you think that the connection to nature and the focus on sensory of Reggio helps students with disabilities?

    1. Thanks, that’s very nice of you to say. Yes, I agree with you that the appreciation of nature and focus of sensory could be a plus for students with different abilities and challenges. I have a very simplistic understanding of Montessori and an even less sophisticated understanding of its antithesis Waldorf schools but it seems like in Reggio-Emilia they were able to find a way to blend the best of the concrete world of Montessori and the imagination, music and arts of Waldorf. Is your experience in Montessori part of what brings you to ECSE?

      1. My experience in Montessori started me off on this early childhood journey, yes! I did not know that I wanted to work with students with disabilites specifically, but realized….through experience….that it was inevitable(in a good way!) and a learning opportunity!

  2. Paula, it was such a pleasure to learn more about you! It fascinates me that we’ve known each other for three years and there are still new things to learn about each other. I love that you have so much classroom experience in a variety of settings. My teaching experience has been all at the elementary level, and most of it is in preschool. I’m a little jealous of your experience, and I’m sure it’s been very beneficial to you!

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