Posts Tagged ‘Pre-K’

Intentional Teaching in Pre-K

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

AUTHOR: Erika Pozo, Early Childhood Education Specialist

Research on best teaching practices is very clear and consistent. Teachers who are thoughtful about what they teach and how they teach it are better able to help children acquire skills needed to succeed in school and in life. Intentional teaching requires teachers to be purposeful and effective in their instructional strategies at all times. This means that teachers take an active role in the learning process and facilitate children’s learning based on skill development, individual needs, and goals of students in the class. Intentional teachers recognize and respond to every opportunity to engage in, and extend, children’s learning, whether that learning is child-initiated, teacher-initiated, routine, planned, or unexpected (Epstein, 2007).

A key element of intentional teaching is listening; listening to what children say to the teacher, to their peers, and in their self-talk. Equally important is the response (or lack of response) teachers give to children when they do talk. Children identify a teacher as a good listener when the teacher:

∙ makes eye contact appropriately;

∙ is patient and does not interrupt;

∙ asks questions in a nonthreatening tone;

∙ is responsive both verbally and nonverbally; and,

∙ prepares for listening by removing other distractions (Jalongo, 2008).

Intentional teaching requires teachers to understand the needs of each child as an individual, unique learner. Likewise, teachers must have a strong sense of how and when to support child-guided learning experiences verses teacher-guided (or directed) learning experiences. To teach with intention, teachers must:

∙ Create a learning environment rich in materials, experiences, and interactions;

∙ Encourage children to explore materials, experiences, relationships, and ideas;

∙ Speak respectfully, reciprocally, and frequently with children;

∙ Consciously promote all areas of learning and development;

∙ Match content with children’s developmental levels and emerging abilities; and,

∙ Carefully observe children to determine their interests and level of understanding.

Intentional teaching does not happen by chance; it is planful, thoughtful, and purposeful.

To learn more about intentional teaching in the early childhood classroom, check out Ann S. Epstein’s book titled The Intentional Teacher: Choosing the Best Strategies for Young Children’s Learning. An excerpt from the book is available here.

References

Epstein, A. S. (2007). The intentional teacher: Choosing the best strategies for young children’s learning. Washington, DC: NAYEC

Jalongo, M. (2008). Learning to listen, listening to learn: Building essential skills in young children. Washington. DC: NAEYC