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.