The Mentor – From Classroom, to Blogging, and To Gloria

Many years ago an outstanding consultant, Marcia Hebert, came into school to help teachers with their classrooms and environment.  We were all so focused on the children that the classroom itself was often overlooked.  Teachers weren’t seeing  their rooms through the eyes of a child.  Certainly I wasn’t.

After she looked at classrooms, we met as a group.  Marcia’s first question was, “Who has the orange pictures on all the walls?”

That was me!  It was our jack-o-lanterns.

My eyes opened, and since then my classroom is neutral instead of a carnival of colors.  In that way, children feel welcomed and calm, and can focus on the task and activity at hand.

Marcia noticed Gloria.  She had Sophia, the same puppet.  Of course Gloria invited Sophia for a playdate and a sleepover.  It was wonderful!

Marcia has been one of my favorite bloggers for a long time.  When I was ready to take the plunge and start a blog, she was the one who told me about WordPress and helped me.  She recently took a long break to write her book.

Low and behold, Marcia posted on her blog a few days ago.  After her hiatus, guess who she wrote about?  Yup, Gloria.  Marcia remembers, and writes about how important Gloria is to children.  Thank you, Marcia!  Please enjoy reading her perspective.  I highly recommend her blog.  It is full of wisdom.  Happy reading!

A Look Back …

dreamstime_s_112800467These past eight years I have had the privilege of working with numerous directors of early childhood programs, as well as their teams of teachers. And I have lots to share!

I presented training that ranged from building effective teams, to creating warmer, homelike environments; from finding and using unique materials and activities for children, to building collaborative relationships with parents; from learning how to set goals and then move toward meeting them, to de-cluttering spaces for children and de-stressing everyone in the process, and much more. 

I coached and mentored aspiring, new, and experienced directors alike—at their schools, over the phone, and via email—troubleshooting, and finding solutions to staffing, space, organization, the rhythm of the day, transition, parent, and child situations. I observed both teachers and children—as another set of eyes and ears for the director—helping to make changes as needed. And, I consulted and strategized with directors who were opening new programs; directors who were expanding their programs; and directors who were closing their schools. 

I have been pleased to experience, time and time again, the level of commitment, dedication, passion, and enthusiasm of these directors and teachers. They are reaching for quality. And, it has warmed my heart, because I know that the children reap the benefit by having wonderful early childhood experiences—and I have had the best moments!

One day, I returned to a program to retrieve my Sophia. Sophia is a puppet with spiky gray hair, wrinkles, and a long, black dress. To children, Sophia is real. 

Let me back up a bit. I was consulting with an early childhood program, and when I walked into one of the preschool classrooms, there was their puppet, Gloria, sitting on the sofa. Gloria is an identical twin to my Sophia! Can you believe it! Anyway, an animated conversation took place between the teacher and the children. And, I agreed to bring my Sophia to this busy room of preschoolers for a play date and an overnight. Well, apparently, the two puppets and the children had a wonderful time together, because, when I arrived at the school to retrieve my Sophia, I was greeted with stories, pictures, and a play-by-play of the Sophia/Gloria adventure:

“They had slept on the sofa under the peace quilt.” (that’s a story for another time)    “They weren’t afraid of the dark—they had a night light.” 

“Gloria gave Sophia her necklace.” (a beaded one that the children made)
“Gloria and Sophia are going to be pen pals.”
“Could Sophia come back for another play date?”

And just before Sophia and I left, the entire classroom serenaded us with “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”—Gloria’s screeching voice heard above all others! Sophia and I blew kisses as we left the children and teachers. Pure magic!

Gloria is a treasured part of this classroom. She is real. The children talk with her, care for her, worry about her, include her in everything. She listens, and whispers her thoughts. She is the voice for many of the “unspoken” things young preschoolers think about. And she is their friend.  

The teacher who added this puppet experience to the classroom is a masterful teacher of young children. She added another dimension to an already rich program. In fact, a gift to everyone in the school—for Gloria is known and loved by all of the teachers, parents, and children! 

Isn’t this what working with young children is all about!

I observed many magical moments these past eight years, as I moved from program to program and built relationships with the directors, teachers, and children. What a privilege to observe so many wonderful things happening for so many.

Our early childhood colleagues (directors and teachers alike) are doing extraordinary work with the young children in their care. They love what they do. And, there is the desire to want to do it better.

I saw the passion in their eyes; heard the enthusiasm in their voices; and noted the strong commitment to quality in their words and actions. 

We are fortunate to have such people in our programs. As we know, it begins with a few, and then ripples throughout the organization. And, as we also know, it begins at the top. 

As a Director, are you creating a climate for magic?

Posted in Early Childhood, Early Childhood Leadership, Early Childhood Teachers, For Early Childhood Directors, Managing Early Childhood Programs, Performance Management Skills, Training for Early Childhood Directors | 1 Comment

About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
This entry was posted in Diversity, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Gloria, Imagination, Inspiration, Kindness, preschool, Teaching young children and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

50 Responses to The Mentor – From Classroom, to Blogging, and To Gloria

  1. Ritu says:

    How wonderful Jennie! A mention much deserved 😘

  2. John Kraft says:

    Delightful and fascinating.

  3. Darlene says:

    She is so right when she states that The teacher who added this puppet experience to the classroom is a masterful teacher of young children. How wonderful that Gloria and Sophia met and are pals now. The world is full of meaningful people who ensure our children are being prepared for the real world. Bravo to you, Jennie and Marcia!!

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Darlene! Your words, and Marcia’s words, are precious jewels. Preparing children for the world is a big responsibility, and Gloria helps teach ‘the right stuff’.

  4. beetleypete says:

    Great to see you praised so highly by Marcia. So well-deserved. We never had anything like Gloria as children, and more than sixty years later, I wish we had.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  5. Opher says:

    Well done Jennie!! You’re a genius.

  6. Dan Antion says:

    This is so nice to read, Jennie. I think we need more of the kind of education that introduces and reinforces these basic aspects of learning. We continue to learn like this.

    • Jennie says:

      You are absolutely right, Dan! Please take this in the right way – every time I see news about a school shooter or teenage suicide, or reprehensible behavior, I immediately think of what I do in school, and how those children never “got it” or had the kind of foundation that Gloria provides. I’m so glad you enjoyed this story!

  7. ren says:

    Bravo Gloria! Well deserved right-up, write? Give Jennie a grate big hug octopus-type huge when you sea her next!

  8. Another heartwarming story, Jennie. Thank you.

  9. I’m sure you were both surprised by the twin thoughts to include your puppets. Great minds think alike. I’m delighted she noticed how dedicated you are to the welfare of those children. I sure hope most of their parents read your blog. I would if my child were in your class. It would make my heart rest. I’m so very happy to read that there is someone out there that goes around offering help to make such a tough job even easier. Who would realize that all those colors could be stressing for children.

    • Jennie says:

      I think I was most surprised that after a long break from blogging, her first blog post was about Gloria and Sophia, and me. I think she understands that is the essence of teaching children. Many parents read my blog. I wish more did, because there are so many lessons there. As you said so beautifully, it would make their hearts rest. Marcia can walk into a classroom and do wonders for teachers. Thank you, Marlene.

  10. What a pleasure to read, Jennie. The praise of your classroom and Gloria and your teaching is well deserved. 🙂

  11. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, thank you for another wonderful post!

  12. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Here is another wonderful post from the excellent teacher, Jennie!

  13. srbottch says:

    Very nice, Jennie!

  14. Marina Costa says:

    I heard that bright and various colours are stimulating for children, not stressing! That their world is brighter than ours, needs more stimulation and they learn through stimulation.

    • Jennie says:

      Bright colors are stressing because they over-stimulate children. And, children cannot focus on the task at hand. The stimulation, or colors, need to be in the toys or activities on the tables and floor, not the room. I have everything stored in baskets, not bins. I have beige curtains over the nap mats and toy shelf. One wall is dedicated to an Art Gallery, a collection of children’s recent art. The only poster hanging is Starry Night. And I have hanging plants. Children need nature and green. Hope this helps!

  15. Very, very interesting. A double gift from you and Marcia.

  16. How amazing that you met another person in the teaching world with the same puppet. This is a wonderful double story, Jennie.

  17. Libby Sommer says:

    good idea to keep the classroom more calming and neutral in colour. other teachers could learn from this methinks.

  18. Sarah says:

    That line about the appearance of your classroom had me thinking, Jennie. My work room is quite cluttered with all the things former students have done, maybe I should remove them? But my thought, or rather hope!, is that the kids will feel inspired by seeing what can be achieved. Maybe I should try out. 😊

    • Jennie says:

      It depends on the age of the child. Young ones need more help focusing on the task at hand, therefore decluttering and eliminating bright colors is a good thing. Can you devote one wall to their art? That solves the problem, because all of that is in one place. AND it gives great respect to the student artist to be showcased in more of a gallery setting. They certainly will feel inspired by seeing what can be achieved. Does this help? Best to you, Sarah. 🙂

  19. Norah says:

    How wonderful that Gloria and Sophie were able to meet up and have such fun together. Two wonderful teachers and a whole bunch of lucky children. There are a couple of points in Marcia’s post that I think are very pertinent.
    One is that the school is fortunate, not just because they know Gloria, but because the children are getting an excellent foundation which will carry them throughout their school years with positive attitudes to school, learning and, most of all, to each other.
    The second one is her concluding question. It is true that no matter how hard the teachers in their own classrooms work, morale and the tone of the school are very much set by the directors. It is important for directors (or principals) to be reflective on their interactions and show teachers that their work is valued, and show children that they are important as people.

    • Jennie says:

      That last concluding question is one I don’t ponder often because I’m not a director (never wanted to be). Yet, I know how it feels when I’m valued, and also when I’m criticized. If the school doesn’t flow with harmony, then teachers can’t do their best. Marcia is excellent at working with directors. And she picks up on what’s happening with teachers and children. Thank you for your insightful comments, Norah. You always have words of wisdom.

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