My name is Helga Conklin and I teach Kindergarten in a public charter school utilizing Waldorf methods. I am just finishing up clearing my credential.
The experience of clearing my credential has been a good one. I was concerned about the extra workload on top of being a full time teacher, so I initially put it off for 2 years. However, once I dove in, it wasn’t that bad. I was also worried about how I was going to cover the induction assignments in my Waldorf methods kindergarten program. Luckily, I have been able to incorporate my required assignments for induction into my regular Waldorf methods classroom assignments and activities, so it has enhanced rather than hindered my teaching. No overload of work, and the methods proved compatible.
Through the induction program, I’ve grown the most in Planning Instruction and Designing Learning Experiences (CTSP 4) and in Developing as a Professional Educator (CTSP 6). This is probably because I am trying to work within the confines of two styles of teaching that I used to believe were very different, mainstream education and Waldorf education. I am happy to say that I was primarily wrong, because within both educational models there are some core similarities. Since I had to find the similarities in planning my lessons, I am now much more aware of them and feel better equipped to design learning opportunities that are true to both models. Also, in seeing and utilizing the similarities, I am growing professionally.
For instance, story telling is deemed highly important in both educational models, as is memorizing and retelling a story. I realized that in my classroom, I have plenty of time for working with individuals and small groups of children in having them retell the stories they hear me tell. In my classroom, we eat snack and lunch together at a table. I sit with half of my class and my assistant sits at the other table with the other half. I now use this time together to have small group discussions about our stories. Mostly it is me prompting them with a reminder about the story, and they launch into discussing the story. I listen and make notes later.
One example of a student success in my classroom due to my realizing I have ample time, if used wisely, to have small group discussions, is that I’ve seen a particular child who struggles with following and remembering the stories begin to learn them quicker. She now listens to others discussing the stories at mealtimes, and I believe this helps her learn them better. Also, due to these discussions, her friends have started bringing the stories into their play more, both in dramatic play and in using toys to give puppet shows telling the stories. She is included in these play experiences and I have seen an increase in her ability to learn the stories.
I’d like to continue to exploring the compatibility of mainstream education and Waldorf education through various programs. I would like to finish the Waldorf training for grades (I am currently focusing on the Early Childhood program.) Also, I hope to get my MA in Ed in Reading from SDSU. There are also classes I can take specifically focusing on Waldorf methods in public school settings. Continuing to pursue both avenues will keep me aware of the many diverse ways I can teach my students.