South Hebron Hills, Sat 1.12.12, Morning
Present: Suha (the workshop leader), Huda, Amna (Huda’s assistant), 3 teachers from the Um-el-Hir preschool (Ahlis, Neome, Dlal), Mira B., Judy A., and Mohamed
We picked up the three Um-el-Hir teachers from their village as we made our way to Hashem-el-Daraj. Huda and Amna were waiting for us at the preschool. Huda was very happy to finally meet Suha after having been in contact with her by telephone for more than a year.
The workshop began with Suha, the teachers, Mira, and Judy sitting at a round preschool table. The teachers sat quietly as Suha explained who was and the purpose of the workshop. After a short while, the teachers relaxed and began to freely interact with Suha. The topic was classroom organization. Huda then led a tour of the rooms and the equipment in the preschool. There was a discussion regarding toys and supplies.
Upon returning to the table, Suha gave each teacher a sheet of paper and a pen and asked them to think together of ways to reorganize the main classroom and to draw their plans on the paper. The teachers seemed unsure how to proceed. Huda said she did not want to give her ideas until she heard the ideas of the others. After a lively discussion, Suha then proceeded to lead a reorganization of the room. The idea was to have two sections to the room – one for circle activities and one for table activities.
The plastic chairs stacked at the back of the room were moved to the front and organized into a semi-circle around Huda’s chair. This arrangement is ideal for encouraging interaction during story time and other circle activities. A large mat was placed on the floor between Huda’s chair and those of the children. Huda seemed rather skeptical of the idea of the children sitting in a circle around her and even more so that she should also be seated. The educational approach they have learned from supervision is frontal teaching, even in a preschool setting. Aside from Neome, none of the teachers have been trained in education, much less early childhood education.
The round wooden tables and chairs are now placed behind the semi-circle of chairs allowing for an easy transition from circle activities to table activities.
The walls of the room have also been divided into sections which each section dedicated to a different topic: creative arts, language, numbers, library. Neome wrote out signs for each of the activity areas. Since the creative arts wall was to be at the back of the room, the children’s art work of olive trees was moved from the front of the classroom to its back wall. The bookcase that had been on the back wall is now in Huda’s office.
The reorganization of the class gave it an entirely different feel – that of a preschool room rather than a traditional classroom. Everyone felt it was a successful workshop and the teachers are eager to have Suha return. The experience was very positive for all the teachers. Not only did they have a chance to learn from Suha but it also gave them a chance to be in contact with each other. The teachers in both preschools do not have much opportunity to meet with other preschool teachers.
Pictures from the workshop – the 1.12.2013 album: