I visited the anti-bias/restorative justice preschool this week for a few hours. My initial impression last week, when I toured Bloom and met with the director, was a general sense of "ehhhhh." But that was when all I had to go off of was the facility, which is undergoing renovations and is just generally dated and hodgepodge -- but with grand plans and so much potential! -- and my sort of awkward, informal interview with the director. The director's educational philosophies seem to line up quite well with mine, but I walked away from the meeting really appreciating some of the organizational/administrative structures in place at Escuela. Like that Escuela trained me as a sub and paid me for it, and made their expectations explicit (on paper, even!), and prioritized getting my paperwork squared away. Bloom seems to be more haphazard in this regard.
I got to see the teaching practices in action in the preschool/pre-k
program, and I'm enamored all over again with Bloom. The teachers
responded so sensitively to the children, and I saw a lot of Reggio best
practices actually taking place. Probably my favorite thing that I
observed was "story circle," which was a totally different approach to
the circle time I've typically seen in preschool classrooms. Circle time is usually an exercise in trying to micromanage the children's bodies and attention while slogging through a series of singalongs, picture books, and maybe something like the weather or calendar or class jobs. But story circle! Story
circle was a time for the teacher to use small props (small wooden
dolls, gemstones, scarves) to set a scene and tell a story, to which the
children listened raptly. And the story she told, with robots and bears
and dragons and humans and foxes, was one about family, adoption, and
community. YES. SIGN ME UP.
Lots of other little moments made me feel like this would be a very good place for me to teach. I love the children at Escuela but I'm not sold on some of the approaches to classroom management, curriculum, and behavior modification. I hope Bloom has a staff opening soon so I can graduate from part-time subbing!