Field Notes #1

JBacchus's picture

February 15, 2013

Private kindergarten classroom,
11 students (9 boys, 2 girls – 1 boy missing)

Daily schedule:
Kids Choice
Morning Meeting
Centers – Reading
Kids Choice
Quiet Time

Looking over the boxes that the children made for Valentine’s day – Seem to be very gendered. Teacher tells me that R. (girl) really wanted the last pink paper, so she asked A. if she would be ok with the purple paper…assumption of color pink? Boys seemed to use blue and red.

Same day schedule as the language enrichment classroom but appears to be more advanced.

During morning meeting, F (boy) to R engage in concerning interaction. During sharing, F. explains that his babysitter needed to watch him an extra time this week because his father had to go to the doctor. R asks why the father had to go to the doctor. F tells her (in indignant, offended? tone) that she “shouldn’t ask that” and that her question was mean (not using the word mean, though). R gasps and appears to begin to get upset. Head teacher interferes, calms situation down, explain to F. that R’s question was okay because F said that his father was going to the doctor and allows F to change his story. – How does this type of interaction affect school climate? The rest of the children? Does this particularly affect the safety of the school?

When sitting down for Reading centers, I am originally away from the table (four seats plus teacher) but move when I see that the group only has three students. I move to sit next to R. and she says “Thank you for sitting next to me. I usually don’t get to sit next to anyone” (exact words) – What is R’s placement/role in the classroom?

During first reading group teacher needs to reevaluate situation and ask students if they are doing their best work. – How can a teacher “re-set” a situation for optimal learning?

During reading R. hitting herself when seemingly frustrated. She was unable to finish writing the word for her assignment– Brings up further issue of R’s role in the environment. If she’s hitting herself, is the classroom still a safe environment for her? Do the other students feel safe both physically and emotionally? How does R detract from learning time? What methods can the teachers use to handle her? Is “handling” her the correct solution or is there another way? –Teacher takes R aside and explains to her that centers happen each day and she will be able to finish writing her word the next day.  Also explains that other students need to come and work on their reading/writing so R cannot stay to do her own work, as that would be unfair.

R. then hits herself again at calendar/math time.

Teacher discord – Assistant teacher went to read Arthur book for snack time that was picked out by head teacher. While reading the assistant teacher found parts inappropriate. She asked (exact words) “Have you reviewed this book?” Main teacher laughs and says no. After finish reading the assistant teacher goes up and asks her to remember to preview the book, and the main teacher said she didn’t think it was necessary because the book was Arthur. – When speaking to the main teacher later, I ask a bit about how she came to be a teacher and at this school. She explained that this was her first year and that she had taught fourth and fifth grade a large, public school in Virginia. – Does the fact the main teacher is in her first year affect the relationship between her and the clearly older (mid50s) teacher? How does discord or disagreement between the teachers affect the students, no matter how subtle?

The two teachers discussing R. during recess time and how her behavior is “particularly bad” for the day. (exact words) “She hasn’t behaved like this in a while”. After assistant teacher leaves, I take the time to ask MT (main teacher) about R’s situation. She explains that R has no diagnosis and that this is the 1st time this issue is being brought up to the parents. She explains some of R’s characteristics that cause issue: rigidity, sensitivity, but also makes a point to highlight her positive characteristics that make her a special girl: very caring, thankful.

During Kid’s Choice, I am helping F to build a castle. R comes over and wants to play, and after we say yes, she begins to take down the castle. After much explaining to both students that you need permission before taking down something (explained both vice versa, aka R taking down F’s castle and then F taking down R’s building), students are able to work together. I notice the MT watching intently, looking ready to intervene. R. then has another meltdown when it is time to clean up, and MT has to take her to the side and sat with her for at least 3 minutes calmly explaining that toys made during Kids choice must be taken down so the tables are free and so that the toys can be played with again. 


jccohen's picture

R's day


Your fieldnotes revolve largely around several stories involving R, so I'm thinking that writing (for youself and your readers) a fuller, contextualized description of R might be helpful.  What does she look like, what are her interests and preferred activities, how does she relate with children and adults...?  Using Carini's Descriptive Review might be generative for you, and I'll talk about this in class Thurs.  I find myself wanting this kind of context because I'm not sure what to make of the day you describe for R here.  For example, I'm puzzled about her interaction with F, which reads to me as pretty "innocent" on her part but perhaps I'm missing relational context here...  The hitting herself is more obviously problematic; is this a usual kind of behavior for her, and how do teachers generally help her with this?

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