Teaching is a highly reflective process.
As I spent the weekend writing and preparing my presentation for the NAEYC conference in November and trying to best explain my way of teaching to others, I learned a great deal about myself and about curriculum misconceptions.
Emergent curriculum is a widely used and misused term. It reminds me very much of the way Whole Language was used and abused many years ago back when I taught Kindergarten. People wrongly thought that if you used Whole Language than you didn’t teach phonics. If you don’t incorporate phonics into reading instruction, than you cannot teach a child to read as it is one of the strategies. However, HOW you integrate that phonics instruction can look very different in a Whole Language classroom and a phonics based classroom.
To some people Emergent Curriculum means letting the children take the lead and run with the learning, leading the entire journey, with very little teacher involvement. The purists may say that one cannot even plan as you need to be continuously spontaneous and only supporting of the discoveries the children make on their own. With this thinking, I began to doubt if I was truly a teacher of Emergent Curriculum and decided I was perhaps, more of an Intentional Teacher.
I observe my students and watch their interests. I foster these interests and take their lead. However, I am then intentional with my actions. I will then plan the environments that will help them answer their questions that they have raised, seek experts in their field, find books on the subject. At the same time, I am watching the development of the set of standards for which my state is holding me accountable. I am creating learning opportunities for children to practice or develop or strengthen in areas where they are lacking.
Are my students self motivated? Yes!
Do they have a say in their learning process? Everyday
Are we a team in our learning together? Yes!
How is this Intentional Teaching done; this planning while remaining spontaneous, this teacher directed while following their leads accomplished?
Join me in at the NAEYC Conference in CA in November and I will walk you through a year in my classroom. How did each investigation start? Where did it lead? What is the research behind why this type of teaching is so critical to our young learners?
Catch me Friday, November 5, 10am Become a Polar Explorer, Feather a Nest and Make it Rain Inside: Emergent Curriculum, It’s not only Possible in Preschool, it’s Incredible
And if you can’t make it, keep reading. The journey continues and it is shared here.