While co-presenting at the NCaeyc 60th annual conference on the topic “Integrating Children’s Interest in Lesson Plans with Supportive Activities and Documentation” a question was posed “How to engage children’s interest in prescribed lesson themes”? Teachers are asked to facilitate preschoolers learning of lesson plans as opposed to the plans being teacher-directed all the time. Therefore, the teacher was wondering how to work through this dilemma. Also, the teacher is assigned an evaluator who conducts at least 3 announced and 1 unannounced formal observation. In conjunction, a mentor will work with the teacher in an array of supportive ways throughout the school year.
The situation is one that must be handled professionally due to the ultimate goal is how best to provide the children with the best high-quality education. Here are some helpful ideas:
- Communication is the key to get changes made in a program; however, you must show the benefits and rational (research) to support the change prior to meeting/discussing with administrators.
- Set up a meeting with your administrators sharing the importance of having children’s interest direct future lesson plans having supportive research on the benefits of child-initiated plans.
- Remember the evaluator and mentor is there to support YOU ensuring you maintain a level of proficiency or higher on the teacher evaluation rubric. Therefore, you must communicate if being scored low on teacher rubric evaluation components share and ask for ideas and/or strategies to resolve the matter.
- After you have met with administrators and the result has been the prescribed topics must be used throughout the school year here are some suggestions to document child-initiation for lesson plan theme.
- Review upcoming lesson themes and set out different materials to peek children’s interest and record questions and/or comments that can lead the center activities.
- Record comments on the K (know) and W (what they want to know) of the K-W-L chart as your research information that is child-directed for the lesson.
- Document the process for developing the lesson from children’s interest and input to activities. The documentations can be photos of work, children’s dictations, K-W-L chart and so forth for your teacher’s portfolio.
These suggestions should assist as you try to accommodate what is being asked from administration and what is culturally developmentally age appropriate ensuring high-quality education for preschool age children. There may be time when you the teacher will have to prompt children toward ideas and information they would like to know on a topic. Enjoy the school year with child-initiated theme where you serve the role of facilitator.