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HD 486A Reflective Study: Fieldwork

Miranda Valdescona
HD 489: Reflection on Life Experience
June 16, 2016
Dr. Veronica Estrada
Nothing will work unless you do

-Maya Angelou

As a professional I went through certain experiences that exercised and

challenged my skills and abilities. I worked side by side with another employee who had

a bad reputation and helped a foreign student who did not speak any English find his

identity. These experiences required hands on and first hand observation in the field of

child development regarding issues of communication, leadership, problem solving,

diversity and cultural issues that later affected and impacted my professional growth,

goals and theory. I will describe experiences in detail and portray its effects on me

physically, emotionally and cognitively and its vital impact on the direction that I chose

to take for my professional career.

The previous pre-school I worked for employed me as an assistant teacher for a

four-year old preschool class. We were called the Dolphin class and were one of the

other three classes in the pre-school component. I was in my second year working for the

school and teaching in this class and I was just getting familiar with the dynamics of the

students, parents, other employees and the school. At this time, I mostly kept to myself

and although I made acquaintances and professional connections with other employees, I

refused to expose myself too much with all the drama or gossip that frequently went

around at work. By the beginning of my second year, I was given a new lead teacher in

the class who was also going to be the coordinator for the pre-K component. Upon

administration selecting a candidate for the position, there was already a lot of doubt,

gossip and speculation about the employee that I was about to partner with.

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Ms. Tabetha had been employed with the company for over twelve years and was

the coordinator for the three-year-old component and a lead teacher for a three-year old

class for more than six years. Since Tabetha has worked for the school for so long, most

of her relationships consisted of the other employees in the school and their families.

Tabetha was married and had a child with one of the employees brother and was going

through a messy break-up with him during her transition into my class. The break-up,

which later turned into divorce, roused a lot of hate, gossip, trash talking, drama and

biased arguments against Tabetha. The ex-husbands sister, who was another employee,

constantly spread rumors targeting Tabetha personally and professionally. Since I was

about to work with her, they specifically tried to manipulate and convince me that

Tabetha was not qualified enough for the position she acquired in the component and in

the class. Everyday I had employees across the school tell me stories of Tabethas

laziness, bitchiness, bossiness, poor work ethics and not enough professional credentials,

which started to cloud my mind with negative expectations towards working with her.

My initial reaction, if the rumors were true, was the fear and concern I had for my

students and the effects it could make on their learning and development in class.

However, at the same time, the drama in her personal life did not influence my opinion

about her too much and I was instead excited and challenged to learn from and work with

someone that has so much experience in the field.

When we first started working together, both of us were reserved with each other

and mostly just gave each other support for the choices we made for the class. By this

time, Tabetha was now starting to process her divorce and was only getting scrutinized

even more at work for this decision; in effect she came into work exhausted, frustrated,

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heartbroken and uninspired. Upon observing this, I knew I had to take the initiative to

problem solve and communicate with her more in hopes of building a productive

professional relationship. To do this I knew I had to express to her that there was no

judgment towards her on my end but instead an open-mind and an eagerness to work and

learn from someone that has as much experience as she does in the field. Since she no

longer felt safe in her environment, I knew I had to do something to make her feel safe

and gain her trust. She was also at an extremely low point in her life that caused her to

have very low self-esteem and a lot of self-doubt.

I slowly tried to verbally communicate and connect with her by creating small

talk about work and life outside of work in hopes of building her trust. I consistently

asked her questions about the field and the school and the expectations, competitiveness

and hand-on skills attained through it. At the same time I made sure to give her praise for

the uncanny techniques, creative ideas and progressive concepts that she introduced to

the class that I never would have learned from school or anyone else. When I felt like I

was starting to gain her trust, I finally conveyed my non-biased thoughts about her and

the ideas I had for us to overcome it together for the sake of our class, our partnership and

our profession. I expressed to her that I trusted her and I continue to learn from her

everyday, that I looked up to her as a teacher and as a person for going through

misfortunes and not giving up. I encouraged her to look forward to a new beginning and

reminded her that there were still people around her, like myself, who did not judge her

for her decisions in life and instead believed in her and admired her for her strength and

perseverance.

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By the middle of the school year Ms. Tabetha and I became very close partners

and friends, we trusted each other and looked to each other for support and guidance and

leaned on each other when struggles aroused. We decided to keep to ourselves in our

class to avoid any negative distractions from other employees and we continued to keep

communication with each other and made sure to clarify and confirm rumors and other

gossip being told about each other to each other. Through my leadership efforts of

standing my ground when everyone else was telling me not to, through my

communication attempts to reach out and re-assure her of the trust and safety she had

with me and in our class and through the respect and dignity I offered her as a co-worker

and a fellow professional, we were able to positively create and teach a happy, dynamic

and successful class.

Working side by side with someone who was going through a rough time made an

impact on my professional development because it gave me first hand experience in

employee biases and exposed me to diversity in the workplace. It opened my mind to the

impacts of gossiping and the involvement of personal and professional life in the field of

work. This issue physically affected me because working under someone who was

doubted and criticized by other employees meant that I had to perform at an exceptional

level at all times to prevent any more speculation and judgment. I also felt the pressure of

having to look perfect and professional everyday especially because I was working under

someone who was very professional in everything she did.

In opposition, I was not so much emotionally affected by it negatively but more

positively. Having first hand exposure to someone who was already going through a very

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emotional time in her professional and personal life, I felt privileged, inspired and

empowered. I wanted to balance and ease her vulnerability with my eager, enthusiastic

and optimistic point of view. I felt her weakness and stayed emotionally strong for the

both of us in hopes of helping her overcome all the negative emotions to be able to build

a strong, professional partnership for our class. Cognitively, I had to rationalize situations

for two people most of the time and was able to really apply my problem solving skills to

constantly find ways of keeping a peaceful and productive environment at work. Through

is experience, I learned that keeping a professional manner and a non-biased method

towards my co-workers at the workplace is crucial to maintain a safe, trusting and strong

professional relationship.

Another experience that I went through in my field of work as a teacher was with

a foreign student of mine named Siqi. Siqi was four years old when he came into my

class and came from china as an immigrant with his parents. Siqi first enrolled in the

school at three and a half years old and did not speak nor understood any English. Once

enrolled, his parents informed the school and his teachers that they agreed to give Siqi an

American name with the intention to not give difficulty to his teachers and peers to call

him by his chinese name. Siqis name was changed to Andy and his teachers and his

peers were taught to call him by this name from the first day he started in the school.

Since the teachers were told that Andy did not speak or understand English, his

teachers did not bother to speak or spark conversation with him, they simply would speak

to him, loudly (as if he could not hear), when he was upset or crying to tell him its

okay. Because of the lack of connection and communication, Siqi struggled to make real

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connections with his peers and his teachers, he would constantly cry throughout his day

in school and never made any real friends in the class. Siqi seemed very upset and lost in

the situation that he was placed in. When the new school year came and Siqi or Andy

was moved up into my class, I knew that I needed to help him solve his problem and find

a way to communicate and connect with him in the hopes of helping him find his identity

and feel safe and comfortable in expressing himself. I felt that because Siqi came into a

new environment at a pre-school age, which is such a crucial stage of his self- esteem and

identity development, he was highly impacted by the loss of his identity not only through

the change in his environment but also through the loss of his authentic name and the

communication he has with his environment. I believed that to be able to ease the stress

and confusion that Siqi feels in the classroom, I would have to make him feel safe, and

comfortable by helping him get his authentic identity back.

The first thing I did was to introduce Siqi to the class with his original Chinese

name, Siqi. I communicated to the class that Siqi was new to our country but he was just

as nice, fun and a good friend as every one else. I reminded the other students that Siqi

might have a hard time expressing himself since he speaks another language but he can

still play and understand what everyone is doing in other ways. I wanted to make it a

point to the class to not see Siqi so much as a foreign student who is different from

everyone, but instead just another student who is just as fun to be around as everyone

else. The first day was rough for Siqi but by the end of his day, I noticed that he was

beginning to ease his crying and started to observe his peers playing around him. When

one of the children in class notices that Siqi has stopped crying, the child turns to him and

casually points out and says, Hey! Siqi stopped crying, maybe he wants to play with us

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now. The child proceeds to approach Siqi and asks him if he wanted to play. Siqi shakes

his head no and leans to me for comfort, portraying the trust that he is starting to build

with me as his teacher. I continued to perform different ways to help Siqi identify with

the class throughout the next couple of weeks by including guiding him to initiate and

join play, by including and specifically selecting him to participate during circle time and

reading time. I consistently encouraged Siqi to speak Chinese if it was more comfortable

for him and made sure I was there to help interpret to the children what Siqi was trying to

express.

After just a month in my class, Siqi was now already having a better drop-off

experience in the school. Siqi no longer cried but instead just held on to me or my co-

teacher, which represented the trust he has build with us because of the respect and

dignity I showed him by fully acknowledging and encouraging his real identity. Within

his second month of school, Siqi was now coming into school looking eager, excited and

ready. By circle time he was confident enough to share stories of what he did over the

weekend with his family along with the rest of the other students in class. I would ask

him to try his best to draw his story on the board if he could not explain it in words. The

class was also amused by Siqis drawings and started to build more of an understanding

of what Siqi is trying to express and who he is. The other students seemed to also respond

to Siqi better, knowing that Siqi is now starting to feel comfortable to express himself to

them.

By the middle of the school year, Siqi was able to detach himself from his

teachers and started to explore the friendships he can build with his peers. During

playtime, Siqi started to play independently and also started to entertain playing with

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other children when they ask him to play with them. Siqi still does not speak fluent

English and still has a difficult time verbally communicating with his peers, but ever

since I introduced him different ways to express himself he was able to see how much his

environment respected him and not treat him differently. By the end of the year, although

still not able to speak fluent English, Siqi was now cry-free in school and has build

genuine friendships with two other boys in class and a trusting relationship with his

teachers.

Having a four-year-old foreign student who does not speak any English in my

class resonated with me as a professional because it reminded me how much of a

difference I can make on a lost, confused and scared child by simply respecting his real

identity. I was emotionally affected by this experience because everyday that I saw joy

and comfort in Siqis eyes I too was filled with happiness and content, everyday that I

saw him create more relationships with his peers I felt elated and excited for him as well.

In addition, I was cognitively affected by this experience because I continually had to

observe Siqi and see what techniques would work for him and come up with new

solutions to give him to aid in helping him overcome his difficulties.

Nothing will work unless you do-Maya Angelou. I specifically chose this quote

to embody this essay because it sums up the idea that as a teacher, I have the ability and

the privilege to make things work in times when it doesnt seem possible. I have learned

that it is vital to always treat people with respect and dignity, to always consider the

dispositions and backgrounds that each individual comes from and to always keep a non-

biased and professional relationship with everyone around to promote a peaceful,

progressive and functional work environment. As mentioned in my first essay, my

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personal development theory argues that behavior is motivated to fulfill a need, this

theory directly relates to my professional work experiences through the evident need of

respect, esteem and dignity that my co-worker and student required to satisfy their

behaviors.