I have been placed in a unique position in Mrs. Shapiro’s classroom since I already know approximately half of the students from other places (the JCC and Mrs. Nelson’s 2005-06 preschool class). However, since I know many of the students in other classrooms at Shay and other schools, this is unavoidable.
There is a disadvantage to this: one, it gives me a prior knowledge of these students upon entering the classroom. However, this also enables me to see the differences between the behaviors of these students in the kindergarten room versus the Daycare center. I have already noticed how a few of the students I have previously known act differently.
Patrick was one of the first kids I got to know with no prior connection from any other setting. He made sure I was aware of his presence. He was an extremely affectionate boy who was quite appreciative of my presence—since the first day I came to the classroom, he asked me to help him with numerous activities.
On the first and second day I came to Mrs. Shapiro’s room, he hugged me many times and asked to show me his baby pictures on the wall. He would ask me to help him with numerous activities, like when it was time to trace each kid on poster board and I was asked to help trace him, and when it was time to help him play on the vibraphone. When Patrick was playing too loudly on the vibraphone, and I was asked by Mrs. Shapiro to tell him to stop, I redirecting him by showing him how to play the school song (which resulted in writing out the school song on sheet music for the rest of the class on the second day of teaching).
Early in this year, Mrs. Trainor predicted that I would be a good role model for the male students in this classroom. I can certainly say, with Patrick’s appreciation for my teaching, that I truly am.
While Mrs. Shapiro and I decided that Patrick had to learn not to hug me in the classroom (since Mrs. S informed me that he was a hugger), if he asks me to help him with something during free time and I am not busy with another student, I will not deny him the opportunity for help. Even though Patrick now knows better than to hug me, Patrick still constantly shows me his work, asks me if I like it, and will ask me to help
him on various occasions.
Roger is a boy whom I am familiar with from the JCC. He did not seem to have any issues at the JCC, but on Day 5, an issue emerged when an occupational therapist came in to help him with handwriting. He refused and burst into tears, and would not perform the handwriting tasks the occupational therapist had asked him to do. His issue apparently was that he was unable to hold a pencil or marker with a proper grip.
I myself had this same issue, even with typing (I did not type with proper fingering until the age of twelve, and typed with two fingers prior to that). However, I wrote beautifully with an improper grip, and resisted to learn the proper grip because I did not understand why I had to.
Unaware of the issue until I heard his tantrum in the classroom, I sat and listened to the discussion that Mrs. Shapiro had with the O.T. The O.T. suspected that the problem was a lack of discipline—Roger just did not know better that he must obey his teachers. I joined the conversation at this point, and suggested it might be because he truly has a problem holding the grip. Apparently, he has shown he can hold a pencil properly but refuses to. He would not comply and the O.T. decided not to force him this time. The O.T. then suggested that the problem might be because he is so smart he is too embarrassed to admit he has a problem in this field. I suggested it could have been due to a lack of understanding, and since he does not understand why he has to write, he resists, or because he feels forced.
I also mentioned to Mrs. Shapiro something I had seen from my observations at the JCC. I regularly created handwriting activities for the children there, where I would write each child’s name in different styles and typefaces that I would copy from seeing them on my laptop computer. The styles I would use were: blocks, serif, san serif, backwards, cursive, and various fonts. I actually got a few five and six-year-olds to write their names in cursive. But I noticed that more girls were interested in writing their names out in fonts than boys. Mrs. Shapiro told me that this was probably because of different motor development that occurs between boys and girls, and girls have a little more motor control than boys.
During free time on Day 6, with a substitute in the room, I went to Roger and asked him if he would write his name in blocks. He said yes. I wrote his name in blocks and he copied it, and showed a semi-proper grip. The occupational therapist in the room complimented him for it. Later that day I learned that the grip he had shown was the grip they had wanted him to show when the teacher asked him to write for the evaluation. So I was partially right that his resistance was due to the fact that he felt forced.
Ken is a boy of Guatemalan descent who was adopted by a local parent as a baby. He is six, and older than the average kindergartner, but due to learning disabilities he started kindergarten this year while his sister Jenna, aged five, is starting kindergarten at the typical age. Jenna is in the other kindergarten class, and the kids were separated upon the request of the mother.
Ken apparently has problems in the classroom but they are not always apparent. He appears to be a normal kid until something happens and he falls apart. On Day 6, he had problems writing the lower case “r” on his handwriting sheet. He asked me to help him, and I told him how to write it and told him to write two more letters because that was enough to fill his paper.
At the end of the day, he and his sister both had a tantrum because they both had to suffer the trauma of substitute teachers that day, and it was quite difficult for them.
Brittany is a five-year-old girl who has shown me different sides of her personality over the years. Her mother is an aquatics teacher at the JCC, and thus she came to the Daycare center regularly while her mother worked. At the JCC, Brittany was an extremely aggressive girl who often laughed at sad or violent parts of movies. She also would hit me a lot and play a lot of games where they threw blocks and basketballs at me. I tried numerous approaches to solve this problem—first, by telling the parent. Since that did not work the first time, I decided I would let her “get it out of her system” by initiating aggressive games, hoping that this would calm her down. It did not, so I told her mother a second time, and she never hit me again.
Brittany also has an extremely different sense of humor than other kids. When you try to say funny things or make jokes for her, she will not laugh because she thinks you are stupid. She will not watch Dora the Explorer because it is for babies. If you make funny faces with her, she will think you are stupid. If you try to make alterations to nursery rhymes while you sing them to her, she will not appreciate it. At the same time, she laughs at other things, and at the JCC, would laugh when people feel and were hurt even though other kids felt sorry for them.
Now in Mrs. Shapiro’s room, Brittany has been able to control a lot of her aggressiveness. She has not hit anyone. But she still is a very serious girl who does not laugh easily. On Day 2, when Mrs. Shapiro told a story about a little girl who learns her mother is the tooth fairy, she assigned each student to draw a picture of what they think the tooth fairy looks like. While most students said they thought the tooth fairy looked like their mother, father, friend, or themselves, she said the tooth fairy did not look like anyone but the tooth fairy.
Brittany also is very prompt if she feels another kid has broken the rules. On Day 6, the substitute did not administer snack properly, so I allowed each child 4 small pretzels. One kid snuck in a 5th one while I was not looking, and Brittany tattled on him. Brittany also told me that Patrick kept the door open and peeked while he is in the bathroom. I did not see him do this, but I did see him hugging another girl where the cubbies are in a semi-secluded part of the classroom.