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Placement Story & Implications

jayah's picture

I am placed in a preschool for bilingual students. The parents of these students speak mainly Spanish, and very few speak English. The teacher is supposed to be teaching these students English, but seems to speak more Spanish than English. She even speaks to me in Spanish! Although this itself is an implication, I am not going to focus on this. I just wanted to give some context of my placement. I am going to focus one student who is three years old.

            This little boy, KJ, is a very bright three-year old. He can do everything that the other students in the class can do; however, the teacher does not treat him this way. There was one time KJ went to the teacher to tell her something and she did not know what he was trying to say. She thought that he was telling her that someone hit him, but he was not. She picked him up, made the class sit down, and told him to point to whoever hit him. KJ did not point to anyone because no one hit him. I thought that this was interesting that she went through all of the trouble to do this, when there were plenty of times that she could not understand what other students in the class were talking about. She did not stop the class to find out what was going on, but instead, she essentially “brushed” them off.

            I understand that it is hard to try to understand every 4 and 5 year old in the classroom because it is a relatively big class, but I believe that all of the students should be treated equally. The teacher treating KJ differently ignores other students in the class. The students can feel like the teacher is showing favoritism and grow to not like her. It is not a very high chance of this being that the students are so young and easily forget about what had angered them, but this is not the case for every student. Some students do remember.

            There was another instance involving KJ. Whenever he is asked to do any table work, the teacher tells me to pay special attention to him because he is a B-A-B-Y! In the beginning of the class, I did not know what to expect. I thought that he was not as capable as the other students since the teacher specifically pointed him out. But, I found that when he was asked to draw animals that were in the aquarium, he did a great job without any help from me. Some of the other students in the class that the teacher did not point out needed more help than KJ. In another activity, the students were asked to take a car, dip it in paint, and stamp it on the paper. KJ did this with little help. I only had to point to the cars so that he can count them. He could count too!

            The implications that this raised is that the teacher may be so caught up on KJ being a baby and treating him as such, that he could potentially doubt his abilities and believe he is the baby of the class. Also, the teacher ignores some other students who may need extra help in this in certain activities. I do not want to make it seem like the teacher only focuses on KJ and definitely ignores other students because this is not the case either. The teacher does a good job in incorporating all of the students. I just believe that the teacher should treat all of the students equally, and not treat KJ differently because of his age. After all, he can do everything that all of the other students can do, and the other 4 and 5 year-olds do not look at him as a baby. The teacher, in a way, singles KJ out.


jccohen's picture

paying special attention


This is complicated.  As you say, the teacher is giving KJ a different kind of attention than she seems to be giving to the other children, and apparently this is related to her sense of his identity as a "baby" in the context of this classroom.  In a way, this might suggest that the teacher is aware of children's identities and trying to teach to these.  However, it becomes really problematic when you tell us that her sense of his identity is inaccurate; she seems to express a lower set of expectations for this child based on a perception of his age - and this reminds us of the danger of teachers lowering their expectations for learners because of their identities.  Is the issue about equity, or is it about her making more careful observations of her students?