Classroom Observation and Teacher Interview EDU 305 April 17, 2012 Christie Guite

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Classroom Observation and Teacher Interview My classroom observation took place at Belgrade Central Elementary School in Mrs. McKenzie’s kindergarten class for about two hours. There were only two adults present during the interview, myself, and Mrs. McKenzie. The observation took place from behind the teachers table so I wouldn’t distract the students or the teacher. During my observation I quickly concluded how well Mrs. McKenzie interacted with the students and how well she used the developmental theory in the classroom. Teacher Interview Christie: What is your professional background? Mrs. McKenzie: I graduated from UMO in 1996 with a B.S in Elementary Education and specialized in Early Childhood. In 1996 I opened my own childcare center that cared for up to 20 children with one fulltime and one part time helper. In 2000, I opened up a Pre-school program at my day care center. I operated my own facility for 10 years, until I became a Kindergarten teacher at Belgrade Central Elementary School in 2010. Last year was my first year as a teacher. For my first year, I felt it went very well, considering the fact that I did not have an aide. I had to prepare and coordinate the classroom on my own. This year the budget has allowed each kindergarten class to have an aide. This allows for more reading and one on one with my students. Christie: Have you had any professional training? Was it effective? Mrs. McKenzie: I had specific developmental training in my bachelors program. That training was extremely effective. I recently completed RISC and Beacon training.

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This training overall has helped our district toward a fully implemented RISC school within two years. It has been extremely effective. Christie: Do you consult with peers or specialists about developmental issues? Mrs. McKenzie: I am a member of our school’s Student Spirit Team. Our team works with the teachers on a bi-weekly basis concerning developmental issues. I also communicate daily with any concerns that the teachers or students may have. Christie: What are the developmental issues you deal with in your classroom? a. Cognitive – What are the academic abilities and challenges in your age group? Mrs. McKenzie: In my class the students’ cognitive skills of my students range from high to low. Their learning ability ranges from entering kindergarten ready to read, to never being read to. Kindergarteners have a different range in cognitive skills. b. Physical – Do you feel that there is an academic difference with gender? Mrs.McKenzie: I have seven girls and 11 boys enrolled in my class. All children are physically similar. c. Emotional – Do they seem overwhelmed or stressed? Do they solve their own problems? Mrs McKenzie: Children at this age, are sometimes very emotional. They often times display mixed emotions in different circumstances’. For children this age this is normal and, I have to explain that to parents. Stress, overtired, or grief may be reflected by crying. Crying seems to be a good stress reliever for my children. I tell the parents to allow them to cry, they will get a sense of their emotions and how to deal with them eventually.

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d. Social – How are their social skills, do they make friends easily? Mrs. McKenzie: Majority of my students attended a preschool program. This provided the social skills and readiness to learn with other children. A few of my students had never attended a preschool or daycare prior to kindergarten, first they were lacking in social skills, and had difficulty adjusting to the school environment. Some students at first were frightened by the school bells and would seem very timid. As time passed those students easily blended in with the others. Christie: What are the specific challenges of your age group? Mrs. McKenzie: Specific challenge: At this age children are not independent learners they have a difficult time sitting quietly for 10 minutes. They are easily distracted and their attention span is limited. Amongst 18 of them there is a wide range of skills. Some of my children can follow direction whereas others need my full attention. Christie: What is the most challenging developmental in your career? What are the details of the issue? Mrs. McKenzie: I would have to say that learning to read is the most significant developmental issue I have worked with. I work very diligently with my students by encouraging reading strategies and reading at home. I have many parents that are supportive and involved and I have some that are not. I feel that child will learn to read when they are developmentally ready. Christie: How did you address the issue? Mrs. McKenzie: I explain to parents that some children may not developmentally be ready and provide literature that shows this. I give them reading strategies to use at

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home such as, getting your mouth ready for the sounds, identifying pictures, and recognizing words within other words. Christie: What was the outcome? Mrs. McKenzie: Once I show parents these simple strategies, their children usually pick on sight words quicker. Children eventually learn to read when they are developmentally ready. Classroom Observation Mrs. McKenzie used small white boards with her reading groups to help them with word recognition, while re-telling the story. Mrs. McKenzie made up flash cards to take home. Students that have difficulty developing basic reading skills go to the Title 1 reading program designed to provide extra help in reading. throughout the day. I noticed Mrs. McKenzie incorporating flash cards quite often during lessons to emphasize high frequency words. The use of flash cards and the ability of the students understanding what are on the flash cards falls under the cognitive theory. The more a student sees the words or problem the more likely they will remember the word or problem the next time they see it. Christie was able to see Mrs. McKenzie use flash cards with her students. Some of the words came easy, such as their high frequency words and other words came harder for them to identify. Mrs. McKenzie provided the students with laminated flash cards. These flash cards are great for when you are on the go, in class, in small groups, individually, or at home. We you find an attached three photos, two examples of the high frequency words and one example of a sheet of flash cards.

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Reference: Jill McKenzie, Belgrade Central School, Kindergarten teacher

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