Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

You are here

FieldNotes #1

pbernal's picture

1st Placement 2/29/16

Enrique (international 5 year old visitor)

Enrique was visiting the Kindergarden center from a latin american country while his mother had a meeting. He didn't know any English, but he was partnered up with a student from the program who could transate for him. I interacted with him a couple of times because he wasn't interacting with the other students, not because the other students weren't being welcoming or kind, but because he couldn't communicate with them. He seemed to be enjoying himself at his own level of comfortnesss. He did however keep asking when he was being picked up by his mother. While he was there, I tried my best to interact with him and make him feel welcomed because I didn't want him to feel alienated from the space. He joined a few of the focused centers, but because he doesn't know English, he couldn't fully participate. He was given a blank sheet of paper to draw while the others practiced sight words and practiced reading. He drew a turtle and talked to me on the side about how he loves turtles. 

Greetings Voted upon themselves

One of the group activities, which really stood out to me, was one in which students practiced greeting each other. They voted on which way to greet each other last week and had the opportunity to practice it in a group activity this past Monday. Students would sit in a circle, including all of the teaching instructors and praxis placement students. For example, take Charlie as the student starting off by touching it's neighbor by the shoulder and saying, "Hi Melanie" and Melanie would reciprocate by touching Charlie and repeating, "Hi Charlie." Then, Melanie would do the same to her neighbor to the right. The students were practing a form of greetings, but I believed it to be more. They were acknowleding each other's presence by making eye contact and physical, gentle connection. It was something really beautiful to see, hopeful of humankind, in that we can hope to acknowledge each other with such devotion and respect, rather than by quickly asking, without necessarily wanting a response, "Hey, how are you?" 

On the Road to the Achievement Gap

I've been placed in a few different praxis placements in the past, by far, this placement has the best access to resources and better ratio of students to teacher instructors. These students can form full sentences and express themselves quite eloquently. They follow directions and understand when it's appropiate to do what, when, and where. They hold a high social and cultural capital. In one of the group activities, students were asked to share about anything they'd like to share. They would raise their hands, wait to be called on, and then go up to the front of the group and share whatever they'd like. If the students could connect or share similar experiences, they would motion their hands in surfer gestures, thumb and pinkie out while shaking their hand. One of the students shared that he was going to his beach house on Tuesday with his family. The instructor followed up by asking the group if anyone else had ever gone to the beach before, not directly asking if perhaps anyone else joined a beach house. Another student then shared that he was going to London to watch the marathon olympic race to cheer his cousin who was running it. A couple of students followed up with the hand gesture which led the instructor to ask if anyone else had gone to London before and two students said yes and shared their experiences. 

All of the students were actively participating and reading out loud when asked as well as able to recognize sight words. I've worked with kindergarden students from different financial backgrounds and they have a hard time recognizing basic sight words, let alone know how to read. They also struggle to follow directions or have the full attention and support from their instructors because of the size of the classroom. These students are already reading and recognizing sight words, already ahead of the game, subconciously already a part of the achievement gap, leading it for that matter. 


Greenhouse Experience

During this visit, one of our activities also included working at the Haverford Garden for the first time. Students were excited and thrilled to walk over to the greenhouse and work with some of the student workers who are a part of the campus. They were divided into two groups and alternated between the two activities. One of the activities consisted of planting lettuce while the other was planting sunflower seeds. Students were able to interact while learning about how to properly plant the seeds and how to properly take care of them. A few of the students asked questions and not once did they disrespect their instructors by not listening or having behavior issues. They were also very respectful of the space and of each other, they would ask if one another needed help or would provide enough space for each other to see when instructions were being given or when participating in the acitity. Before they started planting the seeds and dividing into groups, the students were asked to introduce themselves and share something they liked about plants. The following were some of the statements shared by the students:

"I like plants because they have flowers." "I like plants because of trees" "I like plants because of fruit" "I like plants because they give us oxygen to breathe."







alesnick's picture

I appreciate this careful set of notes that integrates observation with theory.  Then intensity of the privilege here stands out especially with the striking idea that in some sense these young kids are "leading the achievement gap."  

At the same time, the specifics about how they talked about liking plants are so intriguing for the science knowledge they bring to the farm work.  

Wondering about a place where capital and knowledge meet . . .