The ideal conversation, of course, prompts children to both think and respond:
Teacher: Why did you decide to put the triangle-shaped block on top?
Child: So it can be the roof.
Teacher: What might happen if you didn’t have a block on top?
Child: Then the rain might come in.
Teacher: How else could you keep the rain out?
Child: With an umbrella.
Teacher: How would that work?
Unfortunately, I notice when I’m with children that while I tend to ask a lot of questions, they’re not always open-ended. I really have to work to broaden my repertoire of questions and be quite intentional about asking questions that encourage children to come up with their own ideas and put those ideas into words (and not just answer yes/no or with a “correct” response such as “yellow” or “pig”).
So, how can we remember to ask these kinds of broad, thought-provoking questions?
Many thanks to MMCI instructors Kathy McKechnie and Nancy Walsh for sharing their wonderful ideas! Any errors or misinterpretations in them are my own (not theirs), as I modified them to fit the format.
For more teacher tips, you can read my previous blog post Teacher Tips: Engaging Children in Conversations.
It’s Dual Language Learner Celebration Week! Every year in the U.S., the amount of young children who live in a household where a language other than English is spoken has been steadily increasing. As of 2016, about one-third of children under age 8 – over 11 million children – are dual language learners (DLLs).
As an infant classroom teacher, you know that talking to babies is important. For instance, you tell the infants in your care what they are looking at (“You see the new block basket on the shelf!”). You label objects (“You have the red ball!”). And you describe events that take place in the classroom (“The tray just fell off the table! That scared you.”). These are all examples of talking with babies. Why, then, can it be so challenging to do this consistently in the classroom?
A few years into teaching early childhood, I applied to work at a school that does incredible work in the local community. I was thrilled to get an interview but realized very quickly that, even though the environment was supportive and the students were wonderful young people, I was much too intimidated to work there.
One of the best things about teaching is having a fresh start every morning. Greeting your students plays an important part in setting the tone of your classroom. I like to think that, as teachers, we get a chance to make a good first impression each day. Let's take a moment to consider the impact greetings can have with students, not only at the beginning of the school day but throughout the day as well.