This year we are presenting a series of posts profiling PKS teachers. The fifth installment features preschool teacher Mei Ying Tzeng from the P1 Oak Tree class. Read the first (Shihpei Chen, preschool), second (Paloma Cordova, English), third (Xi Song, 2nd Grade), and fourth (Carol Kao, Chinese Literacy Specialist) installments.
What do you like most about the Reggio Emilia approach?
There is no instruction manual on how to teach children. Children don’t need to follow anyone to explore the world. Instead, we focus on children’s learning processes and experiences, not on pushing children to remember all the academic material. Teachers and children observe, find questions, search for the result and solve issues together, building knowledge and gaining new experiences while learning from each other.
What makes a PKS preschool classroom unique?
We trust children’s capacity to learn and we support them as much as we can. We often reflect and have discussions. Lessons are not about just getting the right answers. The children are unique, they show their individual strengths and we use different methods to increase their confidence and ability to express themselves as they face problems, solve them, and explore the world.
We trust children’s capacity to learn and we support them as much as we can. We often reflect and have discussions. Lessons are not about just getting the right answers.
How do you incorporate your study of the arts?
I like to draw, especially to create an interesting story. I have published a few picture books in China, and have experience using a variety of art materials. As a storyteller, I know how to use my facial expressions and tones of voice to catch children’s attention. I also like to bring age-appropriate art materials to the classroom for the children.
What methods do you use if a child is having trouble with the daily schedule?
We like to encourage parents to read the daily classroom newsletter for their children. Through this way, children get more familiar with their classroom’s daily routines.
Before each transition (i.e. nap time, potty time), teachers usually give a 5-minute warning so children can be prepared to wrap up whatever they’re doing within time allotted.
What is the biggest challenge for new Mandarin learners, and how do you overcome it?
I would say emotion is the biggest challenge for new Mandarin learners. Even if you prepare yourself to learn a new language, you may not feel comfortable in a new environment, with people you are not familiar with, so you might feel afraid to speak up.
New Mandarin learners need more time to build relationships and become familiar with the environment they’re in.
How do you let children’s interests help guide the curriculum?
First, teachers have to prepare themselves and the environment. The teachers have an open and welcoming mind and encourage children to learn with a positive attitude. We prepare a rich environment with materials that allow children to explore freely. Through their play, children have the opportunity to use the natural materials to create and represent their ideas. When children enjoy learning, they have more ideas and are able to inspire each other to think deeper about a project. They are the ultimate curriculum guides.
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