Preschool Teachers Interviews with four teachers within the same discourse Interviewed by Jen Whitt May 2012
Introduction • I am an associate preschool teacher. The school in which I am employed is my second discourse, my home is my primary discourse. • I interviewed four teachers who also work with preschool children ages 3 to 5. • The teachers I have interviewed are all college educated individuals with experience ranging from 3 years to 18 years. • For confidentiality purposes I will use their first initial when referring to them.
1st interview • My first interview was with a girl, who I will refer to as “J”. J has been teaching preschool for 9 years and has earner her bachelors degree in Early Childhood Education. She was once a daycare administrator, and is now a lead teacher in a preschool classroom.
2nd Interview • My second interview is with “C”, C has earned her Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education, and is currently working on her Bachelors. She has worked with preschool age children for 3 years, and before that worked with infants for 6 years.
3rd Interview • My third interview was with “S”, S has worked with preschool age children for 18 years. She currently has her Associates degree in Early Childhood Education, and is undecided on furthering her education.
4th Interview • My last interview was with “SB”, SB has worked with preschool age children for 5 years, and before that worked with toddlers for 2 years and infants for 2 years. She has obtained her CDA, and would like to further her education in the future.
Questions & Answers
How do you incorporate materials into the classroom that appeal to all the children, and encourage literacy? • J– To encourage literacy in the classroom, we have materials such as pencils, paper and books at every area, not just the reading or writing center. Since the children have varying interests we observe and assess each child so we can be sure to include materials in all the areas that will be appealing to all the children. • S– Our materials are changed bi-weekly, so we introduce new books, and writing materials for the children to keep them interested in the literacy materials.
C– Materials are laid out throughout the classroom for the children to utilize. They are accessible to them at all times. Our reading material is changed weekly to bi-weekly to keep up with the changing interests of the children. SB– Literacy is an important part of my classroom. We have materials out for the children year round that promotes literacy. Not only do we have books, various writing utensils, and various types and sizes of paper, we also have magnetic letters and alphabet stampers and other various literacy materials.
Just as the children are from different discourses, so are the parents, what efforts are made to include parents in the process of literacy with and for their child? • J– We communicate with parents and guardians from different discourses on a weekly, if not daily basis; the most important aspect of the communication is trust and respect. We build a relationship with the parents from the beginning of the year and encourage the parents to visit the classroom, we have “reading round-up” week where we ask the parents to come in and read a story that they choose to the children. This gives the parents the opportunity to interact with their child and the other children, and also introduce them to a story that they may not have seen or read before. We also send books home with the children that their parents can read with them at home. A list of children’s books is available to the parents if they would like a copy.
SB– We encourage parents to read with their children by sending home books with the children. We have incentives for the parents that they can get for reading to their child. This has proven to be an effective method for the parents in our classroom, and has encouraged them to read with and to their children. C– Parents are always welcome in our classroom to interact with their child, we also have a “special reader” that comes in the classroom twice a month that the parents can sign up to be. They come to the classroom and share a book with the children.
S– Parents would never be denied access to our classroom. We invite them and encourage them to come into the classroom and read to the children. We also have a librarian that comes in once a week to read to the children and we encourage parents to come listen with their child. If the parents the need for materials at home, we provide them with writing materials as well as books that they can keep at home to use with their child.
Do you find it more difficult to communicate with some parents versus others, and why? • J– I wouldn’t say that it is more difficult, I think that taking the time to get to know the parents will better enable the teacher to communicate with them. You have to be familiar with the diverse cultures of the students and their families. Some parents are more open to new ideas about how to interact with their child and encourage and support literacy, while others can take offense and feel like they are being attacked, so to speak. If you are familiar with the child, and the family you will be able to successfully communicate with them and convey ideas and suggestions in a way that is acceptable and respectful to the family.
SB– Not really, I think that as long as you are respectful when communicating with parents they will also be respectful, regardless of their discourse. C– No, I feel that parental communication is crucial to the success of the child. I make it a point to include the parents or guardians and not only listen to them but try to implement their ideas and suggestions in the classroom.
S– It depends on the situation in which I am communicating with the parent. Most times it is a positive experience for both parties. If the parents are upset for some reason it can be less than positive, but I do my best to assure them that whatever situation is upsetting them will be taken care of to the best of my ability. The most important aspect of communication is understanding the discourse in which the person you are communicating with derives from, this enables for a more effective, positive experience.
In the classroom what efforts are made to communicate and interact with parents and children that are not considered to be in the same discourse as what you are? • J– Being that the majority of the parents are not in the same discourse as what the teachers are, I think this goes back to respect. When a teacher interacts with the family they should be familiar with the family’s culture, and take time to know and understand the family. It is important to build a relationship with the families to not only gain the trust of the family, but also the childs.
SB– Most parents in my classroom, are not. I listen to the parents and offer them opportunities to express their opinions and thought about their child. They know their child better than anyone, and I assure them that the success that they want for their child, is not only important to them but to me as well. C– When communicating with parents and children for that matter, we establish a sense of respect for each other and maintain that relationship to enable us all to communicate in a positive beneficial way. S– First I learn about the family, their culture, so I know how to communicate with them effectively. I also meet with the parents throughout the year to maintain the relationship that I build with them. This ensures they can trust me, and I respect them, their child, and their beliefs.
What resources do you have to offer parents on literacy, and how do you gain their trust and respect so they feel comfortable communicating this need to you? • J– We have lists of several children’s books that the parents can have access to. We also have a lending library that the children can choose books to take home to read with their families. If a parent lets a teacher or an advocate know that they would like some books for their child, we will make sure the family receives these things. To gain the families trust, we interact and communicate with them in a way that is respectful and not judgmental. We listen to them and build a relationship with the parents to encourage their child’s success in the program and in the future.
SB– I encourage the parents to let me know if there is anything I can help them with, whether it is resources or referrals for different services. I gain their trust and respect by following through on their requests. C– I let the parents know their child’s success is important to both them and I. I encourage them to communicate with me to better benefit their child’s success in the program. I always keep the lines of communication open, and listen and respond in a respectful, understanding way.
S– I gain their trust through building a positive relationship with them from the time their child enters the program at the beginning of the year. We send home a “literacy kit” for the children to keep at home and use with their parents. It contains pencils, various sizes of lined and unlined paper, letter chart, and sentence strips. It also has two books which the child can bring back and exchange for two more all year. There is a replace list that the parents can send in when they run out of materials, and we replace them and send them home.
According to James Paul Gee’s essay Literacy, Discourse, and linguistics, he states that “Discourses beyond the primary discourse are developed in association with these secondary institutions” (541), all the teachers I interviewed, along with myself, all belong to the same secondary discourse, which is the school that we work at. It was interesting to see the similarities in the answers that all the teachers gave, that also went along with what I would have answered had I been asked the same questions. Taking into consideration that we all come from the same sort of culture with just varying differences, it only makes sense that we would all gain acceptance with each other in the classroom. Gee claims that “the primary discourse of many middle-class homes has been influenced by secondary discourses like those used in school and business” (528).
Works Cited • Cushman, Ellen, Eugene Kintgen, et al. Literacy, A Critical Sourcebook. 1st ed. Boston: Bedford/st Martins, 2001.