Pre K Classroom Observation Essay

Preschool Classroom Observation Essay

I observed at King’s/ St. Mary’s Hildebrandt Learning Center location in their preschool room. The center has a naturalistic feel to the environment and all of the staff is friendly and welcoming. The classroom displayed best practices, modern theories and research, and followed expected standards set by their accreditations.
The classroom that I observed in was arranged in a simple way. In the dramatic play center there was a long coat rack and each hook was labeled with an image and name of the outfit. This was done so the children know where do place the clothing when they are done with it or cleaning up. Also in this center was a cash register, puppets, an oven, refrigerator, ironing board, sing, dishwasher, a table set and a comfy chair. Their block center was small, and sectioned off by a shelf and an arch way in the corner of the room. In this center there was also a table. I felt that they children would not have enough room to build although I did not measure the area. The art center had stamps, children’s art work, an easel, magazines and other essential art supplies. In the same area as the art center was the writing center. In this center was maps, chalk and chalk board, stencils, a ruler, notepads, loose paper and pencils.
The library had a poster of the alphabet and numbers, a large amount of books and puzzles. Located behind the library was a shelf with musical instruments and movement accessories such as scarves. Along with a library being used as a quiet area, there was a couch placed near the art center out of the way from all centers for children to sit on. Most of the time that I observed was during free play, centers and circle time. When they start their circle time, they begin with saying their five classroom rules. The rules are: listening ears, walking feet, keep hands and feet to yourself, quiet voices and clean up after yourself. After the rules are done they go into the good morning song, say the alphabet and count. Every day they increase their counting by five. The final days that I was there they were on counting to forty-five. When the teacher counts she does it at a good pace and pronunciate’s each number so the children are able to keep up with her. After they counted the teacher then recapped what they did the previous day and continued talking about the topic.
During my first visit I observed a group of boys acting out the movie Toy Story for two other boys sitting on the couch watching. The teacher did not interrupt the activity going on when it was time to clean up, she decided to give the entire class an extra five minutes until clean up. The teacher that was in the room was not the primary teacher in the room, she was only filling in. She was unsure of the lessons left for her so she improvised and did a great job. Throughout free play a group of girls were playing; their exact intention I am not sure of. The game consisted of turn taking; one girl would lie on the floor “hurt”, a second girl would be...

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Schools of today hold a variety of challenges. First and foremost, schools should be learning communities where teacher improvement comes from a plethora of sources. Generally speaking, teachers often focus on the content, materials needed, and the activities necessary for the lesson (Roberts & Pruitt, 2003). Teachers, who plan usually plan in isolation, often worry more about covering a list of required content rather than focusing on true student learning. This type of teaching, in my opinion, is a one of the most tremendous challenges facing education today. Many of the teachers in the elementary grades at my school feel this pressure. Although we are to be teaching the same material at the same time as the other in our grade level, there is little planning time to help us focus on this. This fact, along with the adoption of Performance Standards, led me to see the need to introduce teachers to the idea of sharing ideas for lessons, reviewing student work samples, and planning cooperatively on a regular basis that focus walks and peer observations of classrooms.

     In contrast, schools operating under a community learning approach to planning for student achievement use teacher discussion as a springboard for improve teaching strategies. Along with this discussion brings about the need for observation of classroom teaching practices. Within my school’s context, most teachers only are observed by the principal for their state mandated “official” observations. Knowing this fact, I first chose to come up with a list of reasons for encouraging teachers within my school to become open to the idea of teacher observations within their classrooms. This list includes the following reasons for teacher observations.

 

  • Teacher observation nurtures a culture in which we can work in partnership and learn from one another.

  • By working together, we have a greater knowledge base and this fact strengthens our pedagogical beliefs.

  •  Teacher observation builds community and a sense of caring in our school.

  • Teacher observation increases common shared beliefs and gives teachers an understanding of what effective instructional practice looks like.   

     

     

     Roberts and Pruitt (2003) have stated that observation is a strategy that promotes learning by all those involved. From this process I have learned to encourage reflection and growth among others at my school and thus impacted the learning enviroment of my classroom, as well as that of others. It is important to note that I used the method of clinical supervision my method of observation. All parts, from the pre-conference, to the observation, and the post-conference were pertinent to the process of success of foster collegial relationships and collaboration. Being in this process of classroom observation has been an eye opening and rewarding experience for me. I think that I have found, as have the teacher that I observed, that our school needs to revisit the experiences we provide our students in summer school. Because of our school, which happens to be a Pre-K through 12th grade, is so small, we are limited in how many teachers we can afford to hire to teach students throughout summer school. I understand the limitation of money and having to group several students together. However, we really need to focus the learning on the weaknesses we see in our test scores. This is of the utmost importance if we are to help these students gain the few points that the need in order to be successful on the test.  

     I also have found that our school has very good teachers that want to grow and share ideas professionally. One of the best ways we can do this is to visit each others classrooms on a regular basis. Just something as simple as an observation or just looking at student work posted in and outside of the classroom is a way for each of us to learn from each other. I feel that the movement in education is to allow us to learn from each other so that we are a community of learners. I have even found that our high school, which has posted little student work in the past, is now displaying some student work with pride. Because of our K-12 status in the building that I teach in, we can all have an understanding of what is necessary for success at the next grade level and beyond.

   One thing that I take from this process that I intend on sharing with others is the fact that reflection is a positive thing. We can only move forward if we see that everything we do is not always the best way to do it. Many years ago during my first year of teaching, my principal told me that we need to take time at the end of each day to think about what worked, what did not work, and what changes might be effective. It took me several years to see the importance of this idea, but this only solidifies my understanding of this. While my skills of suggestion have always played a part in my guidance as a mentor teacher, I had to improve my listening skills for this activity. I would like to see others, as well as myself, use teacher observation as a learning tool to improve instructional practices and impact student achievement.     

References

Roberts, S. & Pruitt, E. (2003). Schools as Professional Learning Communities: Collaborative Activities and Strategies for Professional Development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

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