Thursday, December 8, 2011
I've Been Reflecting Again
I've been reading a rash of posts about the short lists for the Edublog awards. I've voted for some of the great blogs in the running. I'd encourage you to head over there and vote yourself (after finishing this post!). Some of my closest blog friends are nominated...and all are worthy contenders. I am so excited that many early childhood bloggers are included among the lists. And yet...I've been feeling a little envious and a little left out.
Now...this post is also not a veiled (or not so veiled) attempt to garner compliments or praise...or criticism or advice. I'm not trying to get people to tell me great things (or not so great) about my blog. I don't blog for awards or for ego-building. I blog for the community and for the interaction with other people interested in young children and helping them learn and grow, to share ideas and to learn.
But those feelings of doubt and being left out are there under the surface. As I thought about my own feelings, I began to reflect on preschoolers and classrooms. (You knew that was coming, didn't you?) After all, I'm a grown adult with a range of experiences and a (somewhat) mature brain that can understand what's happening. What about young kids who don't have these things yet?
Do we as teachers create similar feelings in kids? Do we, by uplifting some, push down others? Lots of issues are tied up in these things...extrinsic vs intrinsic motivation, giving everyone an award for fairness, recognizing true achievement, and so forth. I'm not trying to start those debates. I'm just thinking and reflecting.
I've chosen not to give stickers/trinkets/other things to reinforce behavior or reward work. I try to offer words of encouragement rather than praise, and lead kids to talk about what they are doing rather than talk about it myself. I want kids to be excited about what they've done and what they've accomplished, regardless of what other kids can do or how adults may value it. Building a tall tower, painting every square inch of the paper, printing a new word—all of these can be great accomplishments. All involve perseverance and concentration. All are worthy goals to undertake.
Encourage kids. Ask them to tell you what they're doing. Listen to their words...and maybe what lies underneath. Watch kids. But don't save them. Offer kids interesting materials and interesting activities. Allow them to use their own ideas. Think about ways to encourage and uplift...without adding to the doubts they may already have about themselves and their abilities.
And allow me to say to each of my blog friends - I so appreciate your words. Daily I am inspired by what you write. Sometimes I discover a new idea. Sometimes I find an old one rekindled. But always I am amazed by the men and women who care for kids and want to help them learn and grow. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your journey...and thank you for joining me on mine.
(I almost deleted this post a couple of times. I thought maybe I was just whining. Well, here it is.)