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What is the Role of the Teacher in a Classroom with Learning Centers?

  • 1.  What is the Role of the Teacher in a Classroom with Learning Centers?

    Posted 09-18-2021 04:21 PM
    From my viewpoint I think the teacher's Role is to plan, develop, and manage learning centers that are age appropriate and based on the children's level of development. Also the teacher's role should be to guide the children and give them positive reinforcement. What are your thoughts on this topic?

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    Edna Brown
    Lancaster CA
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  • 2.  RE: What is the Role of the Teacher in a Classroom with Learning Centers?

    Posted 09-19-2021 08:28 AM
    I agree. I believe we should encourage our little ones to explore different centers. Demonstrate how we use each center. Learning through fun age appropriate activities is always a bonus/plus.

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    Nori D. Carter
    Milwaukee WI
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  • 3.  RE: What is the Role of the Teacher in a Classroom with Learning Centers?

    Posted 09-19-2021 11:17 AM
    Edna, I would just add to your splendid description that relationship and conversation are also important elements of Learning Centers.

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    Jack Wright
    Child Development Consultant
    Success With Children
    St Ignatius MT
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  • 4.  RE: What is the Role of the Teacher in a Classroom with Learning Centers?

    Posted 09-20-2021 09:11 PM
    Thank you Mr. Wright for sharing the important of "building relationships and conversation" in learning centers. On that note I recalled one child asked me if she could take my order in the house keeping center. She had a pin and pad ready. Oral Language and forming a relationship with the chef and working as a team  were taking place here. Soon the child replied Ms. Brown your order is ready. In the block area the children were building a wall with the blocks so the animals could not get out they replied. I took notes as I observed the children in the difference learning centers.

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    Edna Brown
    Lancaster CA
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  • 5.  RE: What is the Role of the Teacher in a Classroom with Learning Centers?

    Posted 09-20-2021 09:39 PM
    Edna, thank you for noticing, illustrating, and valuing my comment about discussion and relationship. I spent seven years as a "Mental Health Consultant'' at a large tribal Head Start/Early Head Start agency. I have a Ph.D. in psychology, but charged as low as $20 an hour because I wanted lots of time with the children and their staffs. Visitors may have thought I was just playing with the children during my four-hour visits, because I was. But that was my best way to understand the children and model relationship and discussion. I would like to anticipate a criticism: I was also able to squeeze out of this play by involving other children in it. I wasn't tied up with one or even a few children. I had a relationship will all sixteen or so. The all wanted to play with me. I'm 85 now and still at it; an independent child development consultant giving presentations. i like the adults, but missed playing with the children. My grandkids keep taking  more education and don't seem to be in a hurry to have children.

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    Jack Wright
    Child Development Consultant
    Success With Children
    St Ignatius MT
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  • 6.  RE: What is the Role of the Teacher in a Classroom with Learning Centers?

    Posted 09-19-2021 12:32 PM
    Good Afternoon,

    Edna I whole heartily agree with your statement. As teachers we are the building block for the foundation of learning. We provide each student with the tools necessary to carry out learning in different ways. We guide learning through developmentally appropriate lessons and are the role models for success in each developmental domain. When we facilitate learning through positive interactions an guidance we create the roots for success.

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    Destiney Baxter
    Lead Teacher
    Douglass Psychology Child Development Center
    Colonia NJ
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  • 7.  RE: What is the Role of the Teacher in a Classroom with Learning Centers?

    Posted 09-20-2021 12:59 AM
    Hello, Edna--

    Such a great idea to have everyone really think about the teacher role at this essential learning time. I would like to suggest that we think of teachers more as "facilitators" of the learning that the children are creating from the well prepared and inviting environment. By carefully observing our children, listening to their conversations and following up by providing materials, equipment and supplies that address their interests and needs, we can ensure that the time spent in centers fosters independence, peer relationships and growth on many levels. And what a joyous time we have as we watch our young learners work hard to find meaning and important knowledge as they partake in all that is offered to them!

    Wishing you well...

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    Sharon Jackson
    Consultant, Professional Development Specialist
    Early Essentials
    College Station, TX
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  • 8.  RE: What is the Role of the Teacher in a Classroom with Learning Centers?

    Posted 09-21-2021 12:09 PM
    In addition to all the wonderful things people have said about learning centers time being a time for teachers to facilitate, provide resources to extend young children's thinking, and observing them I'd like to add that it is a wonderful opportunity to develop relationships with children. Relationships are a foundation of social emotional development, and key to preventing challenging behaviors. Getting down and playing with children is an effective way to build and sustain those relationships.



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    Janice Stockman
    Early Childhood Coordinator
    Windham Southeast Supervisory Union
    Brattleboro VT
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  • 9.  RE: What is the Role of the Teacher in a Classroom with Learning Centers?

    Posted 09-22-2021 06:50 AM
    I do understand when in the field of education people say teaching and approaches are different. However, when it comes to learning centers I am always disturbed when teachers do not allow children that time to explore the various learning centers because the children will mess the class. These are learning spaces where the teacher has an important role to play and when your teaching flows naturally with the Children's natural inquisitiveness. In this relaxed and free play time you discover the children's real self and interests at play and a proactive teacher takes the opportunity with two hands. Therefore, the role of the teacher is to set;  met centers or exceed centers first. Then, supervise, observe with and without interruption, interact when necessary, take pictures and note down your observations because there is a lot you will discover. These information enables you to plan better for your class and how to update and rotate the centers.

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    ELIZABETH JACKSON
    Teacher
    WBCDC LAUREL
    Silver Spring MD
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  • 10.  RE: What is the Role of the Teacher in a Classroom with Learning Centers?

    Posted 09-21-2021 04:03 PM
    Thank you for this wonderful topic and the equally awesome responses! I would add here that centers time can be a robust support for trauma-informed care and trauma awareness in education. First, centers offer naturalistic play settings where children can engage in truly self-directed activities. Unlike other times where we actively direct the action, we can see the ways children genuinely approach learning and peers. As educators or child-carers, we can use this time to deeply observe the children in the classroom. Are there patterns in the way they interact with materials? What does a child's play teach me about their home life, background, beliefs and family? How do I interpret their social interactions? How might I interpret them differently, using a different lens? How can I really settle into my role as facilitator and know when to push in and when to exit play?

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    Melissa Tsuei
    Manager, Outreach
    People's Emergency Center, Action for Early Learning
    Upper Darby PA
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  • 11.  RE: What is the Role of the Teacher in a Classroom with Learning Centers?

    Posted 09-22-2021 11:02 AM

    I would like to build on the many great ideas raised so far. Mellissa brought up a concern that was nagging at me: sometimes teachers take over child play, often because they feel they aren't doing any teaching if they don't engage at all times. Child to child relationships, developed by play and conversations (verbal and non-verbal) are every bit as important as child to adult relationships. We can feel great when we have set up our environment so successfully that we are not needed for a period of time. I used to keep a clipboard and pencil handy. When I saw an opportunity to step aside, I would write notes on what I saw, and even try to capture full conversations between children. Looking back over these notes, I was astounded by the complexity: I could see how an idea developed and changed, which children were driving innovation, which children became interested or disinterested as the play evolved, what vocabulary was being used or missed. What I learned about the relationships and interests that I culled from my notes allowed me to plan organically for new experiences, as well as to think about how to support child to child relationships.



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    Karen Lefkovitz
    Independent Consultant
    Philadelphia PA
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  • 12.  RE: What is the Role of the Teacher in a Classroom with Learning Centers?

    Posted 09-22-2021 12:20 PM
    Karen, thank you for your comment. It was very clear and helpful. It brought up a memory I'd like to share. At the beginning of the year I had noticed a four-year old girl always playing alone. I feared that it was a sign of withdrawn attachment. I would say good morning to her with a smile on my face. A couple of mornings like that, with a doll in my hands I asked her if she could help my friend, that she was lonely. Would she play cooking with her at the stove? Why yes, she would do that for my friend. She and my friend cooked up some wonderful eggs and sat down at a table to eat. Other children were noticing. I thanked her and left. She was still smiling. Next day we played again, but this time she was willing to let one of the other children play with us. Soon we had three people for breakfast with my doll that both listened and led some of the conversation about what a wonderful breakfast we were having. Next day I was "busy" and couldn't play, but would she help my lonely doll out? Yes. You know the rest. She just need a little reinforcement now and then, continued attention, and she was making progress with her withdrawal. Withdrawn attachment lasts into adulthood about 75% of the time, but can be changed.

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    Jack Wright
    Child Development Consultant
    Success With Children
    St Ignatius MT
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  • 13.  RE: What is the Role of the Teacher in a Classroom with Learning Centers?

    Posted 09-24-2021 01:34 AM
    I love the "lonely doll" story.  What a terrific example of great teacher "intervention" by setting the environment and giving child time to practice new skills.  In this case the child learned how to play with others and develop social skills.  I remember a child who taught me what social skills he had developed:  We were moving from everyone "playing" (learning!) inside to outdoor setting.  There was a "cabin" or playhouse in the yard.  The door could swing open and close and the "window" cut-outs also had covers to swing open and shut.  For some reason, ALL the children outside had congregated in that playhouse.  One boy came out alone to the playground and very quickly saw that no one was then available to play with him.  He went right to the sandbox and quickly filled several containers with sand abd picked them all up to cradle in his arms.  He walked to the closed door on the playhouse and "knocked" on the door with one foot while shouting, "Grocery man is here!"  The door was immediately opened and the grocery man was welcomed in!  He did not need help in joining a group but some children do.

    One of my wise teachers way back when I was an undergrad student (I'm now almost 84) used to talk about students being so concerned about children who did not play with others but would "just watch" instead.  She would assure the college students that much can be learned when "JUST watching" and suggested that the concerned students (or teachers) go watch WITH the child!  In later years, I asked college students how much time and money they spent "JUST" watching in their lives (athletic events, plays, movies, TV) and assured them that "just watching" can be a stimulating and learning experience at any age.  The "grocery man" above spent little time watching or examining the situation but learned just how to be accepted into the group play.  Some faculty in my own department had not learned about learning from observation and wanted their students out of the observation booths and "on the floor" with the children.  I said students needed to learn from watching as well as from working directly with children.  And when teachers or college students are "on the floor" they don't need to be directly "teaching" children all the time.  That "teaching" may be teachers interrupting children's activities where they are learning from their play.

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    Kathryn Miller
    Ames IA
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  • 14.  RE: What is the Role of the Teacher in a Classroom with Learning Centers?

    Posted 09-25-2021 09:36 AM
    Dear Kathryn:

    I agree with you 100%.

    I also sent my students to observe in small groups or pairs depending on the size of my class. They were not to speak to one another about their observations but write down what they saw.  Then, when they came back into the classroom, they shared what they wrote down. They were amazed at the differences in what each student caught during the observations and the difference in depth of their notes - some were more descriptive while others were more a summing up and subjective.

    If we make this a practice in our teacher preparation classes (especially in child development and any course that includes ways to assess learning), my hope is that we will develop teachers who have the habit of watching and listening to children in all their activities and using that information to understand each child's needs and interests and plan an environment that moves everyone forward in their learning and development.

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    Nora Krieger, PhD
    Associate Professor Emerita/Past Chair NJEEPRE
    Bloomfield College/NJ Educators Exploring the Practices of Reggio Emilia
    Highland Park, NJ
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  • 15.  RE: What is the Role of the Teacher in a Classroom with Learning Centers?

    Posted 09-23-2021 09:44 AM
    The environment is the third teacher but is influenced by the classroom teacher's decisions.

    I have seen ECE classrooms where children move as a unit from activity to activity, having what looks like identical experiences. For our youngest children, centers are extremely important and having the choice to pursue what interests them is critical.

    Time to explore is required. One of the roles that a teacher must fulfill is to observe and listen to what children are doing and saying. These observations and the words of children need to be documented through photos, videos, and notes. Reggio Emilia schools do this through "documentation" and some others develop what is referred to as "Learning Stories".  These observations and close listening to children's conversations along with documentation provide an avenue for teachers to think about what areas or additions to centers they should make. It helps them think about how to enrich the environment to further children's interests as well as what to put out as provocations that will push children's thinking.

    As for children playing alone. There is much in the literature indicating that some children do not know how to enter a play situation in which other children are engaged. I applaud the description from Jack Elmo Wright on his skill in helping a child who appears to be a loner move into play with a prop (doll) and then onto playing with other children.

    This is an interesting and important topic.

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    Nora Krieger, PhD
    Associate Professor Emerita/Past Chair NJEEPRE
    Bloomfield College/NJ Educators Exploring the Practices of Reggio Emilia
    Highland Park, NJ
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  • 16.  RE: What is the Role of the Teacher in a Classroom with Learning Centers?

    Posted 09-24-2021 07:18 PM
    Thank you Ms. Krieger for an excellent reply. However, my experience was in "public pre-school" setting. Each state has it own requirements. Most public schools requires a BA or higher in California. My classroom setting included  20 to 24 students with two Aides. Public schools districts call centers  "Learning Centers.."  Children take a two hour nap in a full day setting.

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    Edna Brown
    Lancaster CA
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  • 17.  RE: What is the Role of the Teacher in a Classroom with Learning Centers?

    Posted 09-24-2021 08:30 PM
    Dear Edna:

    I am not sure what you mean when you say that each district or the State has its own rules. Do you mean for how the classroom is set up??? Of course, preschool in a public school would require a BA in ECE to teach in the Prek. I am glad to see that there are 3 adults in your classroom with 20 to 24 students. I think that number of children is a bit high. NJ sets the limit for prek at 15 children to a teacher and one aide.

    One can still have learning centers and document what you observe and listen to what children are doing and saying to each other, sharing your notes or whatever with the assistant teachers in your classroom.

    How do you define your role in your classroom?

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    Nora Krieger, PhD
    Associate Professor Emerita/Past Chair NJEEPRE
    Bloomfield College/NJ Educators Exploring the Practices of Reggio Emilia
    Highland Park, NJ
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