My name is Elaine Winter and I am both a seasoned preschool director and a brand-new blogger! I’m excited to begin exploring with you a range of topics related to early childhood education. As a teacher and a director, I’ve worked in classrooms for a long time, and, to be honest, the work grows more interesting and exciting each and every year. I discover new challenges, new “sweet moments,” lots to laugh about and many new AHA! moments. It may be that the work of an early childhood educator continues to deepen because we become better listeners — better able to really hear what our students are telling and asking us, or it may be because technology affords us more ways at our fingertips to connect meaningfully with young children. I’m not sure. What we probably agree on, however, is that no two years are ever the same in the world of early childhood. Far from it — and therein lies the wonder!
For the past four years, I’ve had the good fortune to direct Third Street Preschool, a very particular preschool in Manhattan’s East Village. Our school is situated within the larger and older Third Street Music School Settlement, a resource that we tap freely. Recently, I published an article describing the value of musical experiences for very young children. Had I not been at Third Street, I wouldn’t have appreciated the many overt and oh-so-subtle ways that music can enhance children’s learning.
Our preschool offers full- and half-day programs in addition to non-separated toddler groups. Children range in age from eighteen months to five years and many continue at our school for two to three years. The faculty is a solid mix of committed senior educators and new teachers. And we all have opinions on just about everything! Ours is a diverse community of teachers and families; the collective goal is to continue learning from and with each other.
Each day I commute to school via subway from my apartment in Brooklyn Heights where I live with my husband, also an educator, and our two big rescue dogs, Dwayne and Jack. My grown twin sons also live in New York City, and my 5-year-old grandson attended Third Street for three years. A joy! During my off hours, I love to swing dance, concoct pasta dishes, poke around art galleries, and get together with friends. And of course, I love anything and everything to do with young children!
Before joining Third Street Preschool, I directed the Lower School of a large progressive school, The Little Red School House (LREI), also in Manhattan. It took a considerable amount of work and dedication, and it taught me so much. You may expect that a few of these experiences with elementary age children will find their way into my blog posts. I have also served as a parenting coach and high school admissions director, but early childhood has always been where I most wanted to be.
Among those topics of particular interest to me are: classroom play, gender roles, language development, diversity, and parent relations. I have spoken on each of these. I am also intrigued by how teachers transform their rooms into rich learning environments; what goes into a classroom to make it readable, attractive, and easy to navigate? With regard to activities and pursuits, I’ll confess that I do have my particular passions. I especially love meeting discussions (circle times), block building and dramatic play. (Definitely not rest time!) As we move forward, I hope you will use the Top Teaching blog comment section to share your classroom passions, teaching tips, and wise advice.
I look forward to sharing, and swapping with you, a year’s worth of insights and experiences.
Top Teaching bloggers are paid contributors for the Scholastic Teachers website.