When We Trust in Teachers, Teachers Remember to Trust in Themselves
In December 2018, I wrote a piece entitled “Beechwood Kindergarteners Learn With Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” Now five months later, this same group of children continues to watch a new episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood each week, selected by their teachers. Teachers select episodes based on something that has happened in school, something children are discussing or reading about, or because they feel a particular episode song or topic is of significant value to their students. They watched the Eric Carle episode (#1721) when they were reading Eric Carle books and trying out his artistic techniques. When children became interested in the gorilla image in the book Head to Toe and wanted to learn more about gorillas, teachers selected to play the Koko episode (#1727). After reading I Love Saturdays y Domingos by Alma Flor Ada and talking about grandparents, they played an episode (#1531) from the series on Grandparents.
There is observable data of the significant impact on children’s learning from watching weekly episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and extending this learning with their teachers and 📷classmates after the episodes. I am not talking about “data” of how many words children read in a minute or how many points they score using some out-of-context assessment. I am talking about actual, real-time, rich, descriptive data. Children who talk with each other during and after each Picture-Picture video because they have so many questions and connections they can’t wait to say them. Children who know the difference between make-believe and not, and talk about what they see/hear in one place that connects with the other. Children who sing songs with confidence, answer the questions Mister Rogers asks with eager attention, can allow the silence and slowness of episode moments with ease. Children who have come to trust in the learning and joy from the episodes and in the learning and joy continued in their classroom afterwards.