More Information Needed

Wildenger, K., & McIntyre, L. (2010). Family concerns and involvement during kindergarten transition. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 20(3), 387-396.

Transitioning from preschool to kindergarten has been regarded as a “sensitive period” for children (Rimm-Kaufmann and Pianta, 2000).   Recent research findings have concluded that early childhood transition experiences may impact later academic and social outcomes (Eckert et al. 2008). Recently, there has been a growing number of research studies in the area of kindergarten transition experiences and effects, but few studies have addressed the parent or guardian perspective in the area (Wildenger and McIntyre, 2010).

Wildenger and McIntyre’s (2010) study on parent concerns and involvement during the transition period between home and kindergarten or preschool and kindergarten aimed to exam transition experiences from the lens of the parents or guardians. They looked at parent concerns during transition, perceived needs during transition, and parent involvement during kindergarten preparation activities.

Results regarding family concerns showed that most parents and guardians had few concerns about their child transitioning to kindergarten (Wildenger and McIntyre, 2010). Where there were concerns, they mostly had to do with sociobehavioral concerns, such as following directions and getting along well with others.   The issues of least concern to parents were communicating needs, toileting issues, and the ability to get along with the new teacher (Wildenger and McIntyre, 2010).

In the area of the perception of needs, there was a significant area of need identified by parents and guardians concerning what families could be doing at home to help their have a successful transition experience into formalized schooling.   Parents and guardians also listed information on the specifics of the kindergarten program and information about their child’s kindergarten teacher as an area of need (Wildenger and McIntyre, 2010). Although these needs were based on a large number of the participant’s feedback, there was still about one-quarter of the participants that felt they did not have any needs in this area.

The last area that was looked at was the level and type of involvement the parents and guardians had in the areas of formal and informal transition activities that the schools offered. The transition activities offered by the schools ranged in format and in nature. Some examples of the activities included visiting the child’s kindergarten classroom, attending a kindergarten meet the teacher or orientation night, receiving information in the mail about the kindergarten program, receiving a phone call from the kindergarten teacher, and receiving a home visit from the kindergarten teacher (Wildenger and McIntyre, 2010). The researchers found that the most utilized transition activities for the parents were attending a kindergarten open house or orientation and receiving written communication from the kindergarten teacher about the program (Wildenger and McIntyre, 2010). Conversely, parents were least likely to receive a home visit or phone call during the summer transition months.

When looking at the differences in participation in transition activities and socio-economic status, Wildenger and McIntyre (2010), found that total transition involvement was significantly less than for lower socioeconomic groups.

The strengths of this study appear to be the strong focus on parent perspective. It seems that although a significant portion of parent participants reported having needs in the area of information obtainment for transition tips and program details, there were also a significant number of parents that said they did not have any concerns. This indicates to me that in the very least, schools should offer a formalized transition informational event, such as an open house, to be sure that information about program details are communicated. I can also see the value of conducting a home visit during the summer months by the kindergarten teacher. Conducting a home visit would give parents and their child the opportunity to meet and get to know their teacher and also the opportunity to address individual questions or concerns about program details or transition tips. Perhaps for the parents that stated they did not have any concerns about the transition process, a home visit may alert them to some things that they should look out for when they are helping their young one transition into formal schooling. I see this as an educational component about the importance of successful early childhood experiences and some key findings that have proven to be helpful during the transition period. Another argument for making a home visit would be the ability to work around the parents’ schedules and take out transportation and child care as an inhibiting factor.

The issues that I can see arising is that many teachers are not employed in the summer months and even if they are, most teachers do not receive their class rosters for the next school year until just before the school year begins. This has been the case in the school districts that I have worked in. Home visits, just as open houses are, should be a part of the kindergarten teachers back to school contracted hours or it can even be imbedded into a summer transition program that has been created and funded by the school.


Ecker, T. L., McIntyre, L. L., DiGennaro, F. D., Arbolino, L., Begeny, J., & Perry, L.J., (2008). Researching the transition to kindergarten for typically developing children: A literature review of current processes, practices and programs. In D. H. Molina (Ed.), School psychology: 21st century issues and challenges (pp. 235-252. Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers.

Rimm-Kaufman S., & Pianta R. (2000). An ecological perspective on the transition to kindergarten: A theoretical framework to guide empirical research. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 21(5), 491-511.

Wildenger, K. & McIntyre, L. (2010). Family concerns and involvement during kindergarten transition. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 20(3), 387-396.


Subjectivity in Social Analysis

Traditional elements of social analysis, particularly ethnography in research include a high level of detachment from the people or group that is being observed. Removal from the context being observed is thought to give the researcher an objective view to record the “truth” of what is being observed. Rosaldo (1993) argues that pure objectivity cannot be achieved and should not be sought after. He made reference to the Horace Miner’s “Body Ritual of the Nacirema,” as a poignant example of the dangers of stark objectivity (pp. 51). He claims that this approach disguises what is really going on and misses the most important elements for observation and analysis (Rosaldo, 1993). What are the most important elements for observation and analysis then? One important element is self recognition of your own culture and experiences. Or in other words, what makes you know what you know. According to Rosaldo (1993), what you observe as truth in ethnography has a lot to do with your backgrounds, identities, and interactions within your context. Rosaldo (1993), places importance on this recognition of self as you interact with what you are studying. Another important element is the power of the analysis and views, and reflections from the people or groups that you are observing. Who else would know more about their situations than the people that are living them? He warns that excluding the voice of the observed participants, “fails to provide the participants’ reflections in their own experiences.” (Rosaldo, 1993, pp. 51) This may lead to incorrect generalizations of cultures, events, and situations.

I can only see benefit in including a level of subjectivity in ethnographic types of research. According to Crow’s New American College ideologies (2002), “We measure ourselves by those we include, not by those we exclude”. Excluding the thoughts, and stories or research participants only stands to exclude and marginalize them. If we take into consideration how our experiences or lack of them may create biases when we are trying so hard to be objective researchers and we consider the views and reflections of those being observed, the result will be the truthful depiction of what is being studied. When we are exposing truth in research, we create opportunities to tear down walls of oppression based on ignorance or false perceptions. I am not saying that objectivity is harmful; I just see Rosaldo’s vision of social analysis as a way to give a voice to the voiceless and report truth. Our research should focus on access, accessibility, and impact. Keeping this in mind, our research should tell the stories accurately so we can clearly respect those in which we are trying to learn about in order to make an impact that will be positive in nature.


Arizona State University. (2002). A new American university: The new gold standard. Retrieved from

Rosaldo, R. (1993). Culture & Truth: The remaking of social analysis. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.




“Stars” Transition Program

Berlin, L. J., Dunning, R. D., Dodge, K. A., (2010). Enhancing the transition to kindergarten: A randomized trial to test the efficacy of the “Stars” summer kindergarten orientation program.  Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 26, 247-254.

My area of interest for research and innovation is in the area of the transition period that children experience from home to kindergarten or from preschool to kindergarten.  Since the start of my studies this summer, I have read many articles in this area that have focused on the importance of successful transitions into kindergarten.  I have learned many practical ideas for implementation that would help support what research deems as the best practices in the area.  In my mind, I have started to apply what I have learned to the context of my own school and community.  I started asking myself, given my school and community demographics, strengths, and needs, what would a successful program look like for the students and families we serve?

I came across a research study conducted that researched a kindergarten transition program that mirrored the type of program that I can see being funded and implemented in my own school and community.  Berlin, Dunning & Dodge (2010), developed a transition program called “Stars” that was designed to help students with primarily their social transition into kindergarten.  The program focused on pre-academic skills such as pre-literacy and pre-numeracy, but mostly the focus was on school routines, the social aspects of kindergarten transition, and parent involvement (Berlin et al., 2010).  The program was held for four weeks in the summer prior to kindergarten.

Berlin et al., (2010) found that participation in the “Stars” program eased children’s’ social transitions as judged by kindergarten teachers.  When the children had the same teacher for kindergarten as they did in the “Stars” program, the significance was even higher (Berlin et al., 2010).  Although  there was not a significant effect in the area of academics, the researchers did remind readers that the focus was not on the academic piece, bur more on the social aspect of kindergarten transition.    The study also found that when compared to peers that did not participate in the “Stars” program, children that did participate in the program had an overall better ability to adapt to kindergarten expectations and routines (Berlin et al., 2010).  In further analysis of the results, the researchers in this study also noticed that the positive effects on the “Stars” program were more pronounced for girls compared to boys.  They attributed this effect to the possibility of greater male vulnerability to social stressors (e.g. Zaslow & Haynes, 1996) and teachers’ differential relationships with preschool age girls and boys and/or unmeasured processes (Berlin et al, 2010).   They also noted that the same gender effect occurred in previous studies, such as the Perry Preschool Project, Abecedarian, and Early Training Project (Anderson, 2008).  Although it is interesting to note that the same findings were not true with two recent and well know studies in early childhood transition.  These studies were the large-scale evaluation of the Early Head Start Program and the NICHD Study of Early Child Care (Berlin et al., 2010).

The methods of study and the findings of this study have helped me to think about my plan for innovation in my local community in the area of kindergarten transition.  The study authors noted in their conclusion that they felt that they could see benefit by having the study repeated but on a larger scale (Berlin et al., 2010).  The researchers felt that perhaps the smaller sample size limited their ability to use certain data gathering materials as well as limited the exploration of a wider range of moderated program effects.  Berlin et al, (2010) also recommended the use of more qualitative measures such as parent, teacher, and student interviews and questionnaires.

I can see the value in using these suggestions in my own research.  I believe that of given district support, I can implement an innovative, research backed program in many of our 59 elementary schools.  Although I am not sure what size samples are deemed acceptable for a larger sample size, I feel that I may have the opportunity to use a larger sample size in the South West area of my district.   Based on this study, I also think that it would be interesting to add a deeper qualitative research approach to capture the dynamics of the transition in regards to parent, teacher, and student feelings about their experiences.


Anderson, M. A. (2008). Multiple inference and gender differences in the effects of early intervention:  A reevaluation of the abecedarian, Perry Preschool, and Early Training Projects.  Journal of the American Statistical Association, 103, 1481-1495.

Berlin, L. J., Dunning, R. D., Dodge, K. A., (2010). Enhancing the transition to kindergarten: A randomized trial to test the efficacy of the “Stars” summer kindergarten orientation program.  Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 26, 247-254.

Zaslow, M.S., & Haynes, C.D. (1986). Sex differences in children’s responses to psychological stress: Toward a cross-context analysis.  In M. Lamb, & B. Rogoff (Eds), Advances in developmental psychology (pp. 2890337). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Learning to Respect Each Other in Learning Groups

In any classroom, it is important to establish a sense of community. In my own efforts to build classroom community each year with my kindergarten students, I first discuss the differences between our classroom expectations and routines and the routines and expectations at home. Once we establish that our experience together is unique and is different than what we experience outside of our classroom, the work of getting to know one another, appreciating one another, and recognizing how each individual contributes to our classroom community begins. When this is successful, even at the young age of five, children support each other with language that is taught explicitly and modeled, strengths of individuals are recognized, children feel confident in suggesting new ideas, and most importantly everyone is appreciated for who they are and what the bring to our community.

The importance of social interaction when learning and constructing knowledge has been well documented by researchers in the field of education (Bransford, Brown, and Cocking, 1999; Greeno, Collins, & Resnick 1996). Extended discussion of ideas and collaboration of groups can lead to higher levels of reasoning (Hogan, Nastasti, & Pressley, 2000).

In our readings this week, I noticed a link between the article on cultural capital by Tara J. Rosso (2005), the study on managing uncertainty by Michelle E. Jordan and Reuban McDaniel Jr. (2014), and classroom community building. In their research study, Managing Uncertainty During Collaborative Problem Solving in Elementary School Teams: The role of Peer Influence in Robotics Engineering Activities, Jordan & McDaniel (2014), studied the roles of peer interaction in collaborative problem solving.

Jordan and McDaniel (2014) specifically focused on what happens in a collaborative group when one of the members experiences uncertainty. What they found was that when confronted with this disruption in progress of the group work, peer responses varied in nature. These responses were either socially supportive to the child possessing the uncertainty or the peer responses were unsupportive (Jordan & McDaniel, 2014). If the support was not supportive, it caused some issues in the cohesiveness of the group and the ability of the child with the uncertainty to continue on with the group flow. Their findings suggested that in addition to teacher support, peer support is important if children are going to successfully participate in collaborative learning projects (Jordan & McDaniel, 2014).

After reading this, I immediately thought of my experiences over the years in building a supportive classroom community as well as the ideas presented by Tara J. Rosso (2005) in the article, Whose Culture has Capital? A Critical Race Theory Discussion of Community Cultural Wealth. In this article, Rosso (2005) discussed the importance of recognizing the value of the capital that children possess from their own experiences in their culture, family, and communities. Learning, sharing and celebrating these types of capital can be beneficial when building individuality and a feeling of importance in a classroom community, but it can also help when children are learning how to work and support each other in collaborative groups. Explicit attention given to the qualities of each child’s capital modeled by the teacher can help the children recognize individual strengths in each other when in collaborative learning situations.

When I think about my explicit efforts to build community, these readings really helped me to realize that not only will a focus on the capital that each child brings to the classroom help build a classroom community and a sense of belongingness, but it may also help with higher level thinking skills and higher quality problem solving at the group level. I can see activities at the kindergarten level that will help support this type of recognition in the beginning of the year, such as family sharing and star student, but my hope would be that with daily modeling and encouraging, the children would develop the supportive thoughts and language that would not only help them recognize individuals and how they uniquely contribute to a group, but also offer a community where it is common to encourage and respect everyone in the community to avoid debilitating unsupportive peer interactions and responses.


Bransford, J.D., Brown, A., and Cocking, R. (1999). How people learn: Brain-mind experience and school. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

Greeno, J.G., Collins, A. M., & Resnick, L. B., (1996). Cognition and Learning. In D. Berliner & R. Calfee (Eds)., Handbook of educational psychology (pp. 15-46). New York, NY: Macmillan.

Hogan, K., Nastasti, B. K., & Pressley, M. (2000). Discourse patterns and collaborative scientific reasoning in peer and teacher guided discussions. Cognition and Instruction, 17, 379-432.

Jordan, M.E. & McDaniel, R.R., (2014). Managing uncertainty during collaborative problem solving in elementary school teams: The role of peer influence in robotics engineering activities. The Journal of Learning Sciences, 00, 1-47.

Yosso, T.J. (2005). Whose culture has capital? A critical race theory discussion of community cultural wealth. Race Ethnicity and Education, (8)1, 69-81.

The Dynamic Process of Kindergarten Transition

Rimm-Kaufman, S. & Pianta, R. (2000). An ecological perspective on the transition to kindergarten: A theoretical framework to guide empirical research. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 21(5), 491-511.

The transition into kindergarten signifies a very import step in the lives of young children and their families.  Although many children in the United States attend various types of preschool programs, the transition into formal schooling is a big step for children that have never had preschool experience as well as for children that have had the opportunity to engage in a preschool program.  Rimm-Kaufman, Pianta (2000), conceptualizes the importance of transition programs or activities in the year prior to kindergarten, and offers an approach to these activities that focuses on an ecological perspective.  This approach included three main areas of focus.  First, a focus on relationships between children and their environment, such as schools, peers, families and neighborhoods (Rimm-Kaufman & Pianta 2000).  Second, measures of school readiness need to take into consideration the effects that these relationships have on the child.  Third, Rimm-Kaufman & Pianta (2000) discuss the importance of examining  on how these relationships changes over time and have an effect on the child and their transition success.

There has always been a research interest in the process of children transitioning from home or preschool into formal schooling, but the popularity of this topic has increased even more in the educational research field in the last 10 years due to the dynamic nature of our current educational system as well as the changing landscape of our family structures.

The expectations for early learners are continuously changing, increasing, and developing as mandates from federal and state policy makers are implemented to try to raise the bar for educators and their students.  Along with demands for higher level of academic performance, kindergarten students also have many social-emotional adjustments to make during this transition year.  Independence from their parents, being alert and attentive for five hours a day in school, and transitioning from mostly parent – child relationships, to forming and maintaining relationships with their peers are all significant social-emotional adjustments (Rimm-Kayfman, Pianta, 2000.

Other factors that promote the popularity of research in this area of education are the increased number of children between the ages of 4-7 in our country. The United States has shown a two-fold increase in the population of preschool age children from 1973-1993.  Changes in family dynamics are also factors that warrant research in this area.  There are many more families now than a decade ago that have single parent households or both parents working when they have small children.  Also, there is growing population of children that are subject to the consequences of welfare reform and are experiencing more stressful home lives (Rimm-Kayfman, Pianta, 2000).

With all of these factors taken into consideration, it is clear to see that educational systems need to create educational reform that includes a comprehensive program that takes into consideration all of these risk factors as preschoolers transition into formal schooling.  The goal of new research would be to help students begin their kindergarten year with as much support as possible given their family dynamics and experiences prior to kindergarten to set them up for success.

The authors noted that with all of these changes, the way this transition process is studied is evolving.  This evolution has everything to do with the increasingly complex family dynamic and other societal factors.

When researchers first began to look at the transition period into kindergarten, they often focused on child characteristics.  In other words, they focused on gender, behavior, ethnicity, etc.  More popular now is the idea that there are far more impacting elements in a child’s life that can have an effect on the success of their transition into kindergarten.  Researchers now are focusing on societal influences, such as programs to help the child transition, such as meet the teacher or hello parties, quality of preschool experiences, and interactions between the parents and the child as well as parents and the teacher (Rimm-Kayfman, Pianta, 2000).  The authors argued that the approach to looking at what determines the success of transitioning into kindergarten is complex and should take on a more ecological approach.     An ecological approach can be best understood as looking at persons, families, cultures, communities, and policies and to identify what the effects are on the child.

All of these factors can help researchers conduct research to better inform policy makers and school districts not only on the importance of preschool to kindergarten transition programs, but also help develop them so that they are created for the specific needs of the community they service.




Hand in Hand, We all Learn

  “Ultimately, there are two kinds of schools; learning enriched schools and learning impoverished schools.  I have yet to see a school where the learning curves of the adults were steep upward and those of the students were not.  Teachers and students go hand and hand as learners…or they don’t go at all.”

                                                                                  (Barth, 2001)

Communities of Practice and Social Learning Systems, by EtienneWenger (2000), Wenger argues that the success of organizations depends on their ability to design themselves as social learning systems.  We all are participants in social learning systems as we have developed our knowledge through experiences and interactions within our world (Wenger, 2000).

One facet or social learning systems are Communities of Practice.  In a Community of Practice, groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do, and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly (Wenger, 2000).  Members of a community practice share information and best practices in their area of expertise or focus.  In order for a Community of Practice to be effective over the long term, three elements must exist.  The three elements include enterprise, mutuality, and repertoire.  Without them, the Community of Practice risks the potential for stagnation and unproductivity (Wenger, 2000).    When considering enterprise in this context, a Community of Practice must show leadership in pushing learning and development further along.    There must also be a sense of mutuality and trust within the community.  This trust should be on a personal level but also at a professional level where the members trust that their information sharing will be reciprocated with the members of the group and also trust in the members’ ability to contribute to the community in a valuable way.  The last element is repertoire which is a certain level of self awareness to know where the community stands and a sense of where it is heading (Wenger, 2000).

During the last three years, Mesa Public Schools has dedicated a lot of funds in the area of training teachers in Communities of Practice.  Teachers are trained by their administration staff and some teachers even got to attend a professional three day training conducted by Solution Tree to receive formal training in this area Professional Learning Communities (PLC).   Some of the trainers included many researchers in educations such as, Rebecca Dufour, Richard Dufour, EdD, Robert Eaker, EdD, Robert Marzano, PhD, and Anthony Muhammad, PhD.  Information regarding educational Communities of Practice and the Solution Tree program can be found at

Creators of the PLC Community of Practice argue that it is an ongoing process in which educators work collaboratively in recurring cycles of collective inquiry and action research to achieve better results for the students they serve. PLCs operate under the assumption that the key to improved learning for students is continuous job-embedded learning for educators (Dufour, Dufour, Eaker, 2012).

As a teacher in Mesa Public Schools, I participate in a Community of Practice called Professional Learning Communities (PLC).  I meet with my team members (the other kindergarten teachers at my school) once a week for about an hour and a half formally but also informally as needed.  Four questions guide each formal PLC.  They are:

  1.  What is it that we expect the students to learn?
  2. How will we know when they have learned it?
  3. How will we respond when they don’t learn?
  4. How will we respond when they already know it?

(Dufour et al., 2012)

During a PLC, our team work collaboratively to examine all teaching practices and study their impact on learning.  Team members share ideas and discuss progress of their students.  In a PLC, the students are not just the responsibility of their classroom teacher, but the responsibility of the whole team.  Expertise from each teacher on the team is utilized in an effort to help all children be successful across the grade level.

One of the most important aspects of a PLC is that the time is protected.  If the discussion does not relate to the four guiding questions listed above then it cannot be discussed at that during a PLC.  There is a lot of value that comes from having a protected time to meet in a Community of Practice.  It assures that knowledge and information is being shared in a regular basis and that each child is being monitored by the entire team of teachers so that they can receive the best education possible.  It also provides teachers a time without other sidebars or distractions where student achievement is the only focus.


Barth, R. (2001). Learning by heart. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass

Dufour, R., Dufour, R., Eaker, R. (2012). Proceedings from Solution Tree Summit 2012: PLC at Work. New Insights for Improving Schools. AZ: Phoenix.

Wenger, E.  (2000). Communities of practice and social learning systems. Organization, 7(2), 225-246.

Preschool to Kindergarten Transition Activities

La Paro, K. M., Kraft-Sayre, M., & Pianta, R. C. (2003). Preschool to kindergarten transition activities: Involvement and satisfaction of families and teachers. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, (17)2, 147-158.

My area of interest for research has changed over the last week as I begin to understand the goals of action research.  Reflecting on the strengths and needs in my school and community has helped me to identify an area where action research would not only be appropriate but also help serve the families of the students we serve in the community where I teach.  The area of interest and focus that I see a tremendous amount of opportunity to help develop and reform based on my week of reflection is in the area of kindergarten school readiness and the effect that transition programs have on social adjustment and academic performance for children entering kindergarten.


In a fairly recent study conducted by Lapar, Kraft-Sayre, & Pianta (2003), researchers looked at the various types of transition activities that are commonly used by teachers and parents to help preschool children transition to kindergarten in the most successful way possible.  The study also looked to identify barriers that could prevent a teacher or a family from participating in transition activities as well as parent and teacher satisfaction in these types of activities.  In other words, did the parents and teachers find the identified transition activities helpful to the kindergarten student?


The study was developed with grant support from the Educational Research and Development Centers program, PR/Award Number R307A60004, under the direction of the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education.  The study was developed on the foundation of widely accepted research that demonstrated the importance of transition to formal schooling for young children.  Generally, children who experience success in the early years of school continue to demonstrate success in social competence and academic achievement in their school careers.  However, children who have a difficult time transitioning to formal schooling usually have trouble catching up to their peers.


In this two year study, researchers looked two different types of programs: a centralized city program for four year olds and a county program located in four distinct elementary schools.  The transition activities developed for use by families of the students and their preschool and kindergarten teachers were organized into four categories.  These categories included family-school connections, child-school connections, peer connections, and community connections.


Of the 110 children enrolled initially in the program, there were 86 participants that completed the study from beginning to end.  Of the 86 participants, 70 were African American, 31 Caucasian, 3 were Hispanic and 6 had other ethnic backgrounds.  Factors in the decline of students participating in the project were due primarily to family mobility.  The researchers in the project chose to primarily work with at-risk students.  Students were determined to be at risk based on their eligibility for free and reduced lunch, child’s father or mother’s partner ever living with them in the home and mother’s score on the Center of Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) (La Poro et al., 2003).


There were 10 preschool teachers that participated in the study.  Eight of the preschool teachers were Caucasian and 2 were African American.  All of them were women.  The kindergarten teachers consisted of 36 Caucasian females and one African American woman.


Data collection in this study consisted of involving parents on interviews and teacher questionnaires.  The questionnaires and interview questions were designed to be sensitive to participants’ use of the transition activities offered to them as well as experiences that occurred as the child moved through preschool and into kindergarten.  The interview questions were developed to address the following questions: 1) When offered a range of transition activities and provided support to engage in them, in what transition activities do parents participate and which activities do they find helpful?  2) What barriers do parents report with regard to participating in the activities? 3) In what transition activities do teachers participate in activities and which ones do they find helpful? 4) What barriers do teachers report with regard to participating in the activities? (La Poro et al., 2003).


The results of the study showed that more that 50% of the families reported participating in almost all of the transition activities with a visit to a kindergarten classroom being the most prevalent activity while reading to children about going to school was the least prevalent activity.  Out of all of the families that participated, almost all of them said that they were helpful in the transition process.  A major barrier for participants was an overwhelming majority of families (74%) reported that their work schedule interfered with their participation in the transition activities (La Poro et al., 2003).


All of the preschool teachers found the transition activities to be helpful, but when researchers surveyed the kindergarten teachers, only about half of them participated in transition activities that occurred during the summer months.  Teachers cited lack of pay for their non-participation.  Of the activities they did participate in, most all of them found them to be helpful (La Poro et al., 2003).


The implications of this study suggest to me that there is benefit to supporting families with transition tips and activities to help their child move from preschool to kindergarten.  It seems that there may be more benefit to offer school funded transition programs that would allow children to participate in school readiness activities while their parents are away at work.  There could also be some activities built into that program that would involve parents and children and offer them helpful hints about helping their children get ready for school. This would help take care of the chief problem that parents reported when they reflected on their participation levels in the activities.  It would also give teachers an opportunity to earn income over the summer months.  It also might be interesting to survey the actual children in the study about their feelings about school before and after the activities.  This would give a unique perspective through the eyes of a child.




Culturally Relevant Pedagogy

The ability to reflect and analyze individual actions or attitudes and behavior can have a significant positive influence on personal and professional growth.  Howard (2003) discusses the importance of having teachers participate in honest self-reflection and critique of their own thoughts and behaviors as it pertains to race in cultural contexts (2003). The goal of critical teacher reflection would be to give pre-service or practicing teachers a space to reflect on and analyze important issues such as race, ethnicity, and culture and recognize how their own attitudes and beliefs can dramatically impact outcomes for students. The act of reflection gives attention to one’s own experiences and behaviors. The meaning that is developed from the act of reflection can help inform future decision making (Howard, 2003).   Through this process, pre-service and practicing teachers can develop pedagogical practices that are racially affirming, culturally relevant, and socially meaningful. This type of awareness and development of culturally relevant pedagogy, I feel will help teachers provide equal access to education for all students regardless of their cultural or ethnic background. In the article, Howard (2003) discussed how Ladson-Billings (1994) argued that one of the key components of culturally relevant pedagogy is the authentic belief that students from culturally diverse and low-income backgrounds are capable learners and if students are treated in that manner, then they will ultimately demonstrate high degrees of competence.

I personally place a high value on teacher self reflection in all areas of teacher pedagogy for both pre-service and practicing teachers. When I think about my teaching experience over the last 13 years, I believe that my success has had a lot to do with natural reflection in my teaching experiences. While I feel that it is innate for most people to reflect on experiences, I think the real skill that brings reflection to life is the ability to honestly engage in reflection in a way that takes a critical look at personal beliefs or actions and makes use of the success or failure of them to make changes that will improve future experiences. Sometimes it can be true that a teacher may not recognize the key areas in their teaching where reflection is needed. This is where mentoring comes into play. Having a mentor to guide the reflection process is crucial for active reflection to be successful. My research interest is in the area of looking at the translation of knowledge and experiences from teacher preparation programs into successful teaching experiences for beginning teachers. For many of the student teachers I have mentored, the act of reflection seems to be a bit unfamiliar. Sometimes pre-service teachers place “blame” on factors that are seemingly out of their control when discussing a lesson that was taught or an interaction with students that may not have gone as planned. As a mentor, I attempt to help student teachers reflect on how their beliefs or actions may have impacted the lesson or the situation. In the area of culturally relevant pedagogy, and awareness of how your beliefs have an effect on your expectations and interactions with students of different ethnic or cultural backgrounds can help pre-service and practicing teachers avoid deficit based-thinking when teaching. It will also allow students to have access to an education that views each individual as equally capable regardless of background and sets a level of high expectations for success for all students.


Howard, T.C. (2003). Culturally relevant pedagogy: Ingredients for critical teacher reflection. Theory into Practice, 42(3), 195-202.

Ladson-Billings, G. (1995). Toward a theory of culturally relevant pedagogy. American Educational Research Journal, 32(3), 465-491.