The kindergarten wing hummed with excitement and anticipation as parents, community members, one Community Voice photographer and one Cub Reporter lined up in the foyer to seek, perhaps, new careers. Richard Crane’s Job Fair, presented by two kindergarten classes on May 9, shared many employment opportunities to students from other grades and to the public.
Teachers Kristin Ballard and Morgan Taylor greeted the crowd as they opened the doors to the Kindergarten Job Fair. The teachers saw this as “an opportunity for our students to share with the community their knowledge on a certain community helpers.” Having studied about community helpers, groups of students were ready to present how their “job” helps the community.
The students invited the visitors to walk the fair and ask questions about particular professions. The students had created posters, job site replicas and themselves out of clay to display different types of jobs.
The students answered questions from this inquiring reporter clearly and with enthusiasm. And the posters revealed the importance of each job. For example, at the veterinarian booth, Houston explained that vets “help animals,” and Miranda added, “They take care of pets when they hurt their bones.” Kaliiyah explained one vet technique: “They pet dogs to make them feel better.”
Next I visited the teacher booth and learned from Max that teachers “teach kids. They do important stuff when it’s lunchtime. They have the kids work in straight lines. They ask the kids to sit crisscross applesauce.” I wondered if I could have used this technique when I taught high school English.
At the police officer booth, students not only explained about the job but also handed out replica police badge stickers. I learned that police officers “get bad guys from stealing stuff. They put people in jail when they are being bad,” according to Bella. Mason had a similar take: “They help people out of danger. They catch bad guys with their cool cars.” Many students worked this booth.
Cleaning teeth seemed to be one important task of dentists. Madison reported that dentists “drill your teeth. They make sure your teeth are clean and they make sure there are no black teeth.” Their poster showed a dentist checking a patient’s mouth.
Booths also provided other information. At the construction booth, Amelia informed me that the workers go to college to study buildings. And you choose the job of construction worker because you live in a house. “Farmers make food for the people” and fire fighters are super heroes. Custodians keep things clean and help students. And Angel let me know that mechanics keep things running.
What purpose did the job fair serve beyond showing the authentic cuteness of kindergarteners? For the two teachers, Kristin Ballard and Morgan Taylor, this fair represented the culmination of two major strands of education: the effectiveness of co-teaching and the multiple possibilities of serving up project based curriculum.
For the students, many things happened. They researched jobs, they worked together (“collaborated” is the educationalese), they presented information to the public, they developed informational posters and they made and used models to demonstrate their topics. They asked questions about careers and may have laid the groundwork for their own and others’ job explorations. And, during their school years and later in their careers, they will draw on this experience as they create other types of presentations.
Co-teaching, for Ballard and Taylor, a no-brainer to them, increases educational effectiveness exponentially. Among the many benefits for the students, they see that this method allows more student-teacher interaction with smaller ratios of students. This enhances classroom management, maximizes instructional minutes, allows increased opportunities to differentiate and provides students the opportunity to build connections with a larger group.
The teachers also see benefits for parents. Parents are always able to communicate with one of the teachers. The teachers are able to get to know all of the students and families in their child’s grade level. One kindergarten teacher said, “I like the idea of co-teaching because it allows the children to form friendships with additional kids. I think it allows the children to learn and retain more with different teaching styles and gives them variety. It makes for a fun environment.”
Ballard and Taylor see many benefits for themselves as teachers. It allows each teacher to specialize in particular academic areas. It provides a built in support system. The partners debrief and reflect on their teaching daily, giving each other constant and immediate feedback. It allows them to divide the preparation work and it provides an opportunity to collaborate. And there is consistency when one teacher is absent for illness or training.
Back to the buzz in the kindergarten wing as the job fair continues. A class of fourth graders tours the booths and the older students learn from the younger ones. There appears politeness, sharing and caring as the nine year olds ask the five year olds about prospective careers. And your Cub Reporter departs with others all considering, perhaps, seeking a new career.