Who Am I?
My name is Valerie Urquhart (“Er-Kart”) and I’m an elementary school teacher with the WRDSB. Back in 2012, I started a blog as a way to making learning visible to my kindergarten families. I used this blog to share exciting news happening in our classroom. The more I reflected on upcoming posts, the more I found myself wanting to dive into the pedagogy behind so many of my classroom and teaching decisions.
Currently, I am taking my Kindergarten Specialist course through Queens University and a requirement of this course is to create a blog to share information with colleagues. The timing of this assignment coincides with a personal goal I’ve had for a long time – to create a professional blog that includes a variety of posts that explore concepts in early learning.
What I Believe
My teaching philosophy comes down to a few simple guidelines that I’ve learned and experienced over the years. It’s all about connection.
Students need to feel connected to one another and their teachers for meaningful learning to take place. Trust and risk taking is born from connection.
Parents need to feel connected to their child’s learning and teacher in order to feel valued as part of the team.
Teachers need to feel connected to one another so that we can support and grow as professionals.
Another tenet in my teaching guidebook is how I gain respect as an educator by first showing it to my families and students. By being respectful of the families I work with, I create relationships that are honest, comfortable and supportive of children. By respecting my students as human beings, I consider their developmental age and stage in my planning for their learning. I remember how young they are and how much patience and gentle guidance they need to feel safe and loved at school.
I am lucky to work alongside two creative and dedicated DECE partners. We are a team that enjoys working together to create a well thought out environment and program for our students. We begin each year by spending quality time observing, listening and learning with children. In truly being present, we learn about their family, their siblings, their favourite foods and after school activities. We watch them build with blocks, paint with a brush or help another child open a lunch container. We see the joy in their faces the first time we play with a parachute. We see them fall during recess and immediately seek out our hugs and ice packs for comfort.
I believe that I have a challenging but immensely rewarding job in spending my days teaching and learning with young children. The growth they make in their two years in kindergarten is astounding. I feel so fortunate to have a role in their transformation.