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Field Notes 2/11

hl13's picture

I am not in my placement yet, but I thought I would write up some placement-like fieldnotes from my job at a kindergarten in order to participate. Here are some excepts: (as you can see, I adopted a fellow group member's style)

  • The next part of morning meeting is a song. The children get up and sing, and it is always paired with dancing or hand motions to accompany the song. This morning was “Down by the Bay,” and often the songs are silly.
    • I think this is to get the children moving and to give them a break before centers, which is one of their most academic periods of the day, as well as one where they have to sit longest, and behave most like schoolchildren, which is a big transition for them
    • While this is a time for recreation and fun for the class, there are prescribed rules to this routine. The teachers want everyone to participate and do the right movements, and if children get out of control and move too quickly or frantically, they are told to calm down.
      • This is another example of how the school puts rules on the recreation time the children have, and try to modify their behavior outside of academic time. Other examples are not throwing snow during recess, etc.
        • Sometimes this bothers me because it seems they want to control every aspect of the children’s behavior, even when they’re only doing what children would normally do.
        • The next part of morning meeting is share time. Three children get a change to share, which is something about what happened to them over the past couple of days, something they are excited about in the future, a fact they want to share, or something they are enjoying in school. They child shares their story, and then says “I’m ready for questions and comments” after which three students get to ask or comment.
          • I really like this part of the day. I think the children enjoy it, it builds classroom community, and children get to practice speaking and conversation in an organic way.
          • Miss D, the assistant teacher, took C into the cubby room to come up with something for him to share, since it was his turn and he often has trouble coming up with something. He shared about sledding with his dad and snow coming up in his face.
          • M shared that he counted really high. M is on the autism spectrum and for the first part of the year would share things like geography or number facts. Eventually, the teachers tried to encourage him to share events from his life, like the other children do. He has started doing this regularly, but this was the first time in a couple weeks that he went back to the types of shares he used to give.
            • I wonder about the benefits and drawbacks of encouraging M to give a typical share. In some ways I would want M to share what he wants, despite what other children do or the activity sort of expects. However, I think it is good that encouraging him to share facts about his life can possibly teach him the social skills that he certainly needs. I think a balance of encouraging more “typical” shares and letting him share what he wants is probably best. 
  • The second group consists of C, G, A and I. G is not here this week. This group of students cannot read independently, so I read the line of the poem first and have them repeat it back. Towards the end of the week as they learn the poem, I read with them like the first group.
    • C often has trouble paying attention and controlling his behavior, so if he does a “good job” he gets a card with a sticker at the end of each center. Once he gets a certain amount, he gets a prize. This is also true for J, who has similar issues but is much more hyperactive.
      • C did a very good job today at my center and earned his card. This has something to do with G not being here, who has lately taken on some of his behaviors, and that we were coloring, which he likes. Activities with waiting and taking turns are much harder on C.
        • It’s hard in this center with prescribed activities to avoid turn taking behavior which leads to students like C to talk to one another, stop paying attention and misbehave. It means that I have to do a lot of talking to students to quiet them, sometimes in the middle of a child’s turn.
    • We have done the activity of circling sight words and coloring several times before. I noticed this time that this group, which normally needs help with this in terms of locating sight words and asking which words are sight words, needed almost no direction. I talked to them about how they used to need more help, and said wasn’t it nice that they could now do this on their own.
      • I was pleased that this group had done so well, and thought it would be good for the class to hear about their improvement. 


jccohen's picture


Hannah M,

I'm glad you're treating this as your field placement for the moment, though I know you'll shift when (finally!) in a placement.  Meanwhile, I notice that you're raising several interesting questions here about control.  The first has to do with 'the school puts rules on the recreation time the children have, and try to modify their behavior outside of academic time," and you raise questions about what it means to 'prescribe' what children are doing during their 'breaks.'  I'm noticing the phrase 'out of control,' which you use to describe situations where children aren't following guidelines; this is intriguing because it highlights how contextual and subjective this notion of 'out of control' can be and suggests to me the question, out of whose control?  This is making me think about Dewey's idea that social control can/should be learned organically via what kinds of agreements and behaviors make a given activity work well for children's own purposes (quite different than teachers setting these rules).  Later you raise the question of who should decide what M shares, which seems to me another kind of control question; in this case suggesting that he share 'typical' things might stretch him in a positive way and connect him more with the group; what do you think?