Educator Spotlight | Jenny Rahm
April 10, 2018 | Amanda Munday
Elegant Child Early Learning Center | Ballwin, Missouri
HiMama is improving learning outcomes for children zero to five. We support early childhood education because the sector is the most challenging teaching environment. Low wages, lack of professional development and long days; HiMama’s aim is to ease childcare management and support early childhood professionals.
The HiMama team firmly believes that early childhood professionals deserve to be celebrated and that recognition is important. Our Educator Spotlight is one way we are shining a light on the important and undervalued work of childcare professionals.
Jenny’s Journey in Early Education
Jenny became an aunt at the age of 10 – she has seven sisters and 23 nieces and nephews.(!!) “Teaching my first born niece helped me to understand how wonderful children are and that I would love to spend full-time days working with young children.”
Jenny started her early childhood education journey with by caring for her niece, babysitting and then eventually working as a nanny she then went to the University of Idaho to study early childhood and special education.
Jenny’s career began with an Assistant position at Elegant Child until she later became a Lead Teacher. “As a lead teacher I get to build lesson plans that I hadn’t built as an assistant. I enjoy planning activities and leading the classroom transitions and making the day run smoothly. As an assistant I work 1-1 with children but I didn’t run carpet time or take on as much responsibilities as I do now.”
Challenges in Early Education
“With each class every student is different and you have to spend time getting to know each child before you can know how you can help them best. You have to put the work in to get to know each child”. Jenny notes that annual replication of lesson plans/activities can be difficult because you can’t assume the children will respond to the material in the same way. That means it’s important for educators to teach to the students in the room and not rely on doing things exactly the same way every year.
Jenny really values the “CIA model” for instruction: the CIA model stands for: Culturally appropriate – individually appropriate – age appropriate.
On the Professionalization of the Field
Every year at Elegant Child the educators have a performance review with the director. A few years ago, Jenny set a goal of better taking advantage of transition time, and using that time to help children in a new learning process (through more formal educational transitions). “This goal has really helped the class have more fun while also backing up the learning activities.”
The example Jenny uses to describe educational transitions are; “if you’re standing on the letter M you can go and wash your hands for lunch! Then, everyone switch squares!”
Having letter and shape identification during transitions keeps children focused. Another example Jenny uses is giving each child an individual shape to claim by saying “if you have the square you can line up now”. The children know which shape is her favourite (note to our readers, Jenny’s favourite shape is parallelogram).
“I think it’s really important that teachers consider the unique needs of each child. One time there was a young girl who was ambivalent about writing. She was capable but not excited. I knew that she really liked to ‘play teacher’ and ‘be a helper’. So I encouraged her to be the teacher, gave her the badge, and once she became ‘the teacher’! She was willing to write her name and learn quickly, and I saw her progress from that day onward. Not to mention, she had so much fun pretending to be the teacher!”
Jenny would really like our readers to know that it’s important to remember that the work educators do each day has long term impact – by approaching the child in a different way with an activity she is excited about, Jenny was able to spark a learning moment without discipline or extended attention that might have subtly communicated to the child (or her family) that writing isn’t her strength. A lot of the interactions that happen in child care environments set children up for future academic success. The reality of that impact on a child’s life is powerful.
Do you have an educator you think should be in our Educator Spotlight? Contact us today and let us know!
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