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Impacting Young Lives through Literacy

ashley's picture

One of my biggest questions for many years of my life has been, “what grade do I want to teach?” It has never been a question of IF I’m going to teach, but rather where I will be along the education spectrum. Throughout middle and high school I desired to be a Pre-K teacher, then moving up to include Pre-K through first grade. Upon coming to Bryn Mawr, the question arose all over again and I thought I had settled on third grade and had been complacent about that decision for about half a year, but have recently been questioning and re-evaluating things again. My recent thoughts had been that I wanted to have an impact in a place in the students’ life where it was more content-based, as the toddler years tend to be more about teaching social skills.

I’ve been working at Thorne School (the pre-school on campus) for the past two years and have loved my interactions with the children. Last year I was thinking that while I like working there, I wanted to have a different impact on children. But this year, I seem to be going back to my previous choice. This past week while reading books to children at the school, I was noticing how their vocabulary repertoire was building through those simple interactions as they continually asked for clarification on the meaning of words that they were unfamiliar with. It got me thinking that I love that, helping build their understanding and witnessing their desire to understand, and how important that can be at that very young and tender age.

 It also got me thinking about the children who are not exposed to these kinds of interactions, those who are not read to at home, those who do not have access to books, those who hear words and phrases they do not understand but are too shy or embarrassed to ask about their meanings. What kinds of disparities does this foster? Are there ways to overcome the disparities that arise? This reinforces my desire to work within the public education system in a high needs school, as that is where I’ve always thought my work would be most necessary and impactful. 


alesnick's picture

blurring social and academic learning?

It's fun to read about your career thoughts.  I wonder if you are perhaps reconsidering the sharpness of the line between social and academic learning in early ed.  Your interactions with your students around books seem to synthesize both.  Since reading and writing are also social, perhaps this contributes to our ongoing efforts to (re)define them, as well?