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Becoming an effective early childhood teacher

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Assignment Part A Essay

The role of the teacher is crucial for successful learning and development in an early childhood environment. With reference to current theory and research, tutorial discussions, reflections, and viewing video segments, identify and discuss four key attributes to being an effective early childhood teacher.

Introduction to teaching ECS1110

Submitted 05/04/11

Effective Teaching

Assignment Part A Essay

The role of the teacher is crucial for successful learning and development in an early childhood environment. Making friends, having fun, learning interesting things, feeling secure and knowing what is right and wrong are all focused through the teacher. A good teacher creates relationships with students whilst nurturing the development of peer relationships. In addition it is important to build partnerships with parents for progression of development at home. They also advocate for children in every aspect of their lives. “The teacher is often a child’s one constant positive in their life” (J. Warren, lecture, Professional relationships and communication, March 7, 2011). They are aware of their community and how it effects its youth. Teachers also help children understand themselves thereby promoting high self-esteem. An effective teacher is someone who can do all this and more.

Building relationships with your students is a necessity for effective learning. A child needs a role model, someone that shows they care. “The single most effective factor in helping young people feel more mature, confident, informed and respectful of cultures, social and sexual difference is the quality of the relationship they have with their teacher” (Blake, Bird, & Gerlach, 2007). Trust is fundamental especially in the early years. Without it, the child’s ability to learn through relationships fails and they may find it hard to progress past the preoperational thinking stage, one of Piaget’s stages of early development (Cited in Marsh 2010). Children playing in the same year show that they are slowly understanding that others have thoughts and feelings too. Peer relationships help the child progress past egocentrism a characteristic of preoperational thinking. Development at school is just one facet of child education. In addition what happens at home affects a child’s learning.

Partnerships with parents can be the best way of both parties knowing how a student is progressing. Part of being an effective teacher, is knowing what kind of outside forces are implementing on your students learning. Offering advice on managing difficult behaviours at home can ease into discussing the promotion of a child’s mental health. Parents should know the importance of expressing their feelings and valuing themselves. “Any help and advice that is provided must be simple without being patronising, and with as little jargon as possible” (Blake, Bird, & Gerlach, 2007). Having school open days, consultation events and bring in a dish lunches can open the students understanding about different cultures and different professions (J. Warren, Importance of communication, March 7, 2011).

The ability to act as an advocate for children is a key attribute for an effective teacher. Children are vulnerable and unable to protect themselves, and the teacher is in a position to recognise when a child is having difficulties in or out of the classroom. Resolving problems out of school requires understanding of the child’s needs and the ability to speak and act on the child’s behalf (Slavin, 2009). “For some time, early childhood education literature has supported the idea that early childhood educators should advocate and become activists for young children, their families, and the profession e.g., Beck, 1979; Dimidjian, 1989; Fennimore, 1989; Goffin & Lombardi, 1988” (Cited in Grieshaber & Cannella, 2001 p. 60). An early childhood advocate is someone that stands up for children and their needs as a learner. It is a process teachers go through as a leader, making changes along the way to help children grow and reach their potential. “Children need us to vote, lobby, to inform and speak out on their behalf.”(Cited in Grieshaber, 2001 p.61) The ability to advocate is an essential skill in being an effective teacher.

Along with relationships within the school, a teacher should be aware of external relationships as well. Having this knowledge can help a teacher understand student’s self-esteem problems. “Through interactions with adults and peers, young children develop concepts of self and worth, improve emotional self regulation and form their first relationships.” Brooks-Gunn, Fulgini & Berlin, 2003, (Cited in Cornish 2008 p. 3). It is important for parents to understand the significance of family involvement and for teachers to support it.

Making time to personally congratulate a student’s effort can build confidence and trust. “This follows on from the culture of it being okay to make mistakes, as rarely is anyone’s first attempt perfect” (McDonald, 2010). When the same student has another problem they will find it easier to engage the teacher. In order to provide a positive self-concept with children, the teacher needs to find ways to let each student know that he or she is respected and acknowledged as an individual Konza, Grainger & Bradshaw, 2001 (Sighted in Marsh 2008 p. 372.) Children with already high self-esteem can be loud and obnoxious, calming them down while expressing appreciation for there ideas can encourage others to contribute. Just knowing the names of students in your class can have great positive effects. (Marsh, 2008)

Children tend to refrain from participating when unsure of themselves. Some need to be pushed because they are afraid of giving a wrong answer. This reflects onto self-esteem and how comfortable the child is in their environment. Relating home experiences and prior knowledge to the teaching content, can make it easier for the quiet students to express their ideas. (J. Warren, Importance of communication, March 7, 2011). Motivation can be linked to self-esteem. Students who have difficulties engaging in class activities tend to be distracted easily. It is these students that struggle when asked questions by the teacher. In turn the child feels unintelligent and abstain from verbal input, further lowering their self-esteem. According to McDonald 2010 it is unknown what outside factors cause this but there is a definite link between behaviour and lack of motivation. What is known is that displaying distracted behaviours can implement on academic success.

When I think of an effective teacher I think back to primary school and remember the best teachers were the ones that pushed me to succeed. They never made me feel inadequate and were always approachable. Everyone has these teachers throughout there learning experience. Different attributes appeal to different learners. Some of the essential ones for early childhood teaching have been mentioned in this essay. Relationships always will be most important, friends, family and the unique kind with a teacher. People will always have the need to relate. Parents want to see their child succeed and progress through school. Collaborating your efforts with theirs as a teacher will help the child’s accomplishment. Acting as an advocate for your students can remove obstacles in their path to effective learning and without this attribute a teacher cannot drive a student further. Developing a high self-esteem is confidence in knowledge and how you can articulate that knowledge. Part of the journey through learning is understanding our self’s strengths and weaknesses.

References

Blake, S., Bird, J., & Gerlach, L. (2007). Promoting emotional and social development in schools: A practical guide. London, England: Paul Chapman Publishing. Chapter 2 Pages 21,24,44,48,49

Cornish, M. M., (2008). Promising practices for partnering with families in the early years.Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing. Chapter 1 Page 1-3

Grieshaber, S., & Cannella, G. S. (Eds.). (2001). Embracing identities in early childhood education: Diversity and possibilities (pp. 60-62). New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Chapter 4

March, C. (2010). Becoming a teacher: Knowledge, skills and issues (Fifth Ed.). Forest, NSW: Pearson Frenchs.

McDonald, T. (2010). Classroom management: Engaging students in learning. Melbourne, VIC. Oxford Uni Press AustraliaChapter 4 Page 129

Slavin, R. E. (2009). Educational phycology: Theory and practice (Ninth Ed.). New Jersey: Pearson Educational Page 69

Warren, J. (2011) ECS1110 lecture notes. Retrieved from Edith Cowan University, http://blackboard.ecu.edu.au/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp. March 7, 2011).

Introduction to Teaching

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