Job Title: Teacher
Type of Company: I work for a public school system in Tyngsborough, Massachusetts.
Education: BS, Education (both Early Childhood Education and Moderate Special Needs), Wheelock College M.Ed, Reading & Language, UMass-Lowell
Previous Experience: I worked with children in pre-school and childcare settings as much as possible during college. Upon graduation I worked in two different public schools as a special educator in grades pre-k through three. I left the public schools, working for eight years at a non-profit agency as a program director. There I planned and implemented after-school and summer programs for girls ages 6 through 14 in the city. Following this, I returned to the public school setting teaching in an integrated pre-school classroom as both a "special" and "regular" educator. Most recently I have been teaching music and movement in the same school working with toddlers, pre-schoolers and kindergartners.
Job Tasks: I am responsible for planning music and movement activities for toddlers, pre-schoolers and kindergartners. Depending on the day, I see as many as eight groups ranging in size from 6 to 20 children. Most of the time, there is a classroom assistant who comes with the group, though she is usually there to provide support for the children with identified special needs. I see each group for thirty minutes and generally have five minutes between each group. I teach a variety of children's songs, sometimes with a CD sometimes without. I try to incorporate a movement component into every song I introduce. Because the curriculum within the classroom is becoming more demanding with a good deal of paper and pencil tasks, the children need to have an opportunity to move their bodies. Sometimes I include a group game that does not have music featured. I try to infuse a number of relaxation strategies, helping the children to become more aware of their breathing and also the need to give their bodies a break after hard work.
In addition to my direct teaching responsibilities, I supervise recess two days a week.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: For this particular position, there is no curriculum guide, so I am free to seek out resources and plan activities that meet the needs of the groups I work with. At times this flexibility is a gift, because it gives me the opportunity to be creative and incorporate a number of different ideas and approaches including stress relieving strategies and relaxation. At other times it is difficult because each group is quite different with its own set of challenges. I am finding more often that body awareness is not something that comes naturally to young children, particularly with the influx of television, video games and computers in their lives. Consequently, when teaching a game or song that requires a group of 18-20 children to move their bodies throughout our space, there are usually several children who have difficulty with this task. They might bump into others, fall down, go too fast, or simply find it challenging to navigate the space and the people in it.
Seeing the positive responses to the relaxation strategies or to one of the activities is often very rewarding. Seeing growth over time is also one of the best parts of the job. On the other hand, it can be very disheartening to see children who struggle throughout the year and do not make substantial progress.
1. Seek out mentors, other teachers who inspire you...and observe them, talk with them about your ideas, challenges and successes. Don't be afraid to reach out!
2. Reflect on what you do and find time to examine your practice on a regular basis so you can continue to grow and learn.
3. Be creative and let your enthusiasm shine through to your students...you'll find that it can be contagious.
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