I'm baaaaaaack.

Hoarding All the Glitter Since 2001.

01 August 2012

My issues with Teach for America are many, but one of the chief (if concrete) problems I have is that I really and truly don't believe they have any business placing Corps Members with preschool-age children.

I don't care how many big goals you can set, how effective your planning is, or how you've planned to document those significant gains.  There is information children need to learn in preschool.  A great deal of it is social-emotional.  Preschool age children do not negotiate with you and they do not reason in adult ways.  They are not built to sit through teacher-directed, content-heavy lessons.

To work effectively with preschool age children (Kindergarten too...really any grade, but especially with the youngest), you need to know something about child development.  You need to plan learning into play, provide experiences for social development, observe play behaviors, and assume that things will break down.  When they do, you need the patience to go with the flow and to figure out what children need - because critically, they won't know how to tell you.  The experienced PreK teacher knows that squirrelly bodies need to run around, that cranky faces need a snack, and what the pee dance looks like.

I suppose it is possible in theory that TFA's Corps Members learn all this in their five-week training.  However, it is so very different from the rest of the TFA mission that I doubt it.  I suspect that PreK teachers in particular are going to struggle with management, and some of them will behave in ways totally inappropriate for young children.  There will be damage.

Anyway, I was poking around the TFA blogs and I found this entry, which confirms a lot of my suspicions about TFA in the PreK environment.  I feel very badly for this Corps Member - the Institute environment is intense, and the feelings of failure/resentment/exhaustion must be horrible.  But I also believe that she did the best thing she could for herself and her prospective students, and I hope that TFA took her very valid concerns seriously.

...but even if they did, I still want them out of ECE.

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