As 2015 came to a close, I was incredibly grateful to have worked at Bridges Early Learning Center in Vero Beach, FL in December. I met incredible educators, parents, and others invested in the care and education of our most precious community members – children.
We had a delightful, embedded residency where the teachers made the commitment, as well as the center’s staff, to have a series of planning meetings from start to finish of the week long experience; a Saturday professional development lead by Arianna Ross followed by planning time so the teachers could set goals and prepare for a week that would conclude with them as the lead teacher of a multi-sensory based learning activity; and, the generous gift of a willing spirit and opened doors, allowing me to work with the children as a co-teacher and their teachers as a coach. I am so impressed with what the teachers were able to accomplish in such a short time. I do not believe it would have been possible without their constant flexibility, honesty, and willingness to be creative. Here are some of the reflections by the teachers:
- The biggest strength of the embedded residency with Ms. Diane was seeing the children smiling and enjoying learning
- A multi-sensory approach to learning with the children is more enjoyable for them and me!
- There are many ways to bring a story to life!
Well done, Bridges! I have no doubt that these already incredible educators will just continue of this path of adding strategies that work for them and their children.
My blessings do not cease with the center. They extend to the families. The children at Bridges have a variety of adults from parents to grandparents, aunts and uncles, who invest in the development of each child. How can such a claim be made in that short period of time? I met many of them who, after working all day, came to the center for a Family Night full of enthusiasm and willing to “go for the story ride” to pick up additional literacy strategies to be extended into the home. The parents and other family members were as generous as the staff at Bridges, proving to be quick learners themselves and already full of great ideas. After an interactive storytelling performance, the parents and I were able to have time to find stories among the ones with us at all times – those personal stories about self and family. Here are the sage words of the parents and other caring adults for the children:
- Grandparents seemed to be the only story tellers, but now I see that anyone can tell a story
- When we engage and excite the children about a book through storytelling, they learn just as much from it
- The world teaches my children just as much as I do
- Children learn just as much through verbal stories as from reading books word for word
Once again, my gratefulness cannot be held back. This was a wonderful experience and I learned from everyone else as well.
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