Welcome them in

Many times we get college students or even ROP students into our classrooms.  These are people who are interested in making child development their career.  We MUST invite them in with open arms and give them a great experience…a real experience, but a great one.

Occasionally you might get a student who has no clue what she is getting herself into.  I’ll never forget the first lab school I worked at and a student walked into the room, the lead teacher asked her if she had every changed a diaper, heated a bottle, been around children, etc…  The answer to all of them was no.  So, “why did you choose child development?”

“I just love children so much and it looks like fun.”

She very quickly learned that it isn’t all fun and games what we do…it is so much more meaningful and, at times, is NOT fun and games at all.  At the end of the day, however, no matter how much fun was NOT had, it is always worth every single second.

There are times when I walk into a classroom with a student participant who is just sitting around the room not engaged much at all.  She may be reading a book to children, but many times she looks lost like she doesn’t know what she should be doing.

We need to make sure that we are directing their activities just as much as we direct the assistant teachers…more so!  I like to have a packet available to new students on their first day.  In it I have written different policies such as dress code, how to talk to children, and key points of discipline and what buttons children at this particular age like to push.  This prepares them a little.

I will also make sure the first 5 visits they have a specific task when they walk in the door, “Today I would like you to spend time in the library reading books.”  Or, “You did such a great job in the blocks yesterday, I would like you to head back over there for a while.”

Make sure there are specific tasks at naptime as well.  If you need to, make a list of things to get done.  Always plan for more than time will allow.  You don’t want them to have a chance to sit and twiddle thumbs; plus this will give them a jumping off point for the next day of tasks to get done.

What’s most important is to make them feel as if they are an integral part of the team.  They ARE part of the team.  Use them to your advantage!  Eventually, when you hone their skills, they may actually become part of your paid team.  Think of how far ahead of the game you will be!  If not you, the next teacher they work under will greatly appreciate your hard work and dedication.  Plus it will set a standard in this field for this particular student.

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