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MGuerrero - Character Building

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Marta Guerrero

Critical Issues in Education

Professor Lesnick

March 25, 13

Post 3: Reflection and Character Building

My praxis placement is in a character building/friendship class at private school. I have to admit that at first I was extremely skeptical of the fact that this school has such an abundance of resources that they are able to provide students with a class dedicated to teaching them how to navigate their feelings and the feelings of others. However, the more I observe and learn more about the curriculum, I begin to wonder how much of an impact this class would have in urban schools.

One day during observation, the pre-kindergarten class filed in, the students were about 4 years old. There were 3 girls and 6 boys. In this class there was only one African-American boy, two Asians (one boy, one girl). The kids were told to file in and walk towards to the rug; they all took their seats as they gathered around the teacher. One boy began to cry, and Mrs. B asked why? He responded by saying that his friend Jay would not talk to him. Mrs. B interjected and asked Jay why he would not talk to Rob. He said that he could not talk to him because he had another friend and that he wanted to talk to his other friend at the time. Mrs. B told him that it was okay to have more than one friend at a time, and that he could talk to both of them, they could all be friends. Jay remained quiet until Mrs. B asked him whether he felt that he was filling Rob’s bucket today or emptying it out. He suggested that he was emptying it out.

            When I heard the reference to buckets, immediately I was confused, I did not understand what the teacher meant by emptying and filling people’s buckets. She then explained to me how there is curriculum designed for kids that are based on a book that is read to kids. Filling up one’s bucket means that one is making someone happy or filling him or her with joy. However if we are emptying one’s bucket, it suggests that we are taking away their joy and making them sad. The kids have to then analyze their actions and see how they are affecting other people’s emotions. The fact that the kids are learning from a young age what it means to affect others and how they can contribute to someone’s mood, I think is important. The classroom reinforces that all emotions are normal and healthy, but that not all actions are behaviors are acceptable. Through these curriculums the kids are also taught about how people are different, but reminds them that being is not a bad thing, and teaches children how to react or think before they react to these differences.

            The discussions in class and at the recent Posse Plus retreat regarding class and race reminded me of why these curriculums are important. We often get frustrated with these topics but rarely know to understand these feelings, or how to talk to others about them. As I return to schools and observe the classroom dynamics, I can’t help but notice that there sometimes is a lot of focus on discipline and classroom management for teachers. I would like to explore the idea of implementing this curriculum into the kindergarten classroom or pre-kindergarten classroom so that students can learn to understand one another and their own feelings. Once they learn about acceptable behaviors in a way that is not reinforcing the rules, but more or less in the sense that has to deal with interactions with others everywhere, I think this would benefit students and classrooms tremendously.

Questions for my group: How do you think a character-building curriculum could be implemented into the classroom? Do you think it would benefit the students? What do you think the long-term effects of this class could be?