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Field Notes Day One-- 2/17

Miranda's picture


When I arrived, the kids were outside at recess. The fenced-in playground, carpeted in wood chips, has a jungle gym with slides and climbing walls and fireman poles, a small sandbox in the corner with shovels and pails. In another corner was a cardboard box full of toys: binoculars, bean bags, and little boxes of soapy water to blow bubbles with. There was one teacher and two teachers’ assistants looking after twelve Kindergarteners, one girl and nine boys, some playing in the sandbox, others climbing on the jungle gym and going down the slide, while others were looking through brightly colored pairs of binoculars or tossing bean bags back and forth. I joined a game of monkey in the middle with Danny, Kevin, Andy, and Mr. D, a Haverford student who works at the Kindergarten for a few hours each week. The game went on for a while and then began to die down, so Danny started to toss one of the bean bags up one of the slides, releasing it and then waiting for it to slide back down. Others started to join, and soon there were five at the bottom of the slide throwing bean bags up, and two at the top trying unsuccessfully to catch them before they slid down. Ms. K, who had been keeping an eye on the game, came over to make sure that everyone followed the recess rules, waiting to go down the slide until the area at the bottom is clear.

During the two hours when I observe the class, the students have recess, lunch, speech, and music, each for a half hour. During speech, the students play games upstairs that have to do with language. Today, they played a guessing game, trying to guess types of food based on hints from the class. In music class, they play tambourines and dance to classical music. Today they learn about Beethoven, and use adjectives to describe how his music makes them feel.



Including students who were absent that day, the class includes two girls and 10 (?) boys. This seems to contribute to shaping a fairly rowdy class dynamic. One of the teachers said that Jenny and Hazel, the two girls in the class, are best friends and almost inseparable. I wonder what it would be like to be one of only two girls in a preschool class, and whether that would significantly affect the experience.

The classroom has very specific rules and procedures. Students are reminded to “speak with kindness” and “have quiet hands,” and each member of the class is assigned a “carpet square” to sit on during every circle meeting. By maintaining what sometimes seems to be a fairly unyielding structure, in relation to both the rules of the class and the timing of the day, the teachers help keep the class safe.



It seems as though this group can get pretty rowdy pretty fast. In particular, Danny and Andy frequently have small disputes that sometimes become physical. While I don’t think it’s really my place to get directly involved in big disputes, I definitely will remember to be careful not to accidentally encourage any games or behaviors that could potentially go in a bad direction.

In order to help maintain consistency in the classroom and not be a disruptive presence, I am trying to get familiar with the rhythms of the class, the expectations the teachers have for the students and for themselves, and the specific language teachers use to address certain situations.

Keep looking at the ways that the structure of the class is shaped and upheld, and thinking about the rationale behind the structure.


alesnick's picture

"Keep looking at the way that the structure of the class is shaped and upheld" -- great focus!  Curious about how the kids participate in this and what theories shape it, among other things.