Edward Street Child Services 508-792-0220
Recently Early Childhood Central.org spoke with JoAnn Borinski of Edward Street Child Services about her position as Master Teacher.
How did you start your career as an early childhood educator?
I graduated from Fitchburg State with an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education specializing in early childhood. Then I went on to Wheelock College to earn my Master’s Degree in Child Development. After graduating, I worked with young children, and then I needed a little reprieve, so I left this career to pursue another. While working in Quality Control and writing manuals for a medical supply company, I realized that I enjoyed working with adults, but I missed teaching and working with children. My quality control job helped me to realize that I could work with adults and not just little kids, and at the same time, writing manuals for the medical supply company was similar to writing curriculum. I really missed it and wanted to go back.
How did the Master Teacher position come about?
I became Master Teacher back in January 2012, but the work to create the position started three years before that. Edward Street Child Services asked several of the child care agency directors in the Worcester area, “What can we do for you to help you and your agency?” Classroom support, professional development support, and time to complete documentation were the biggest requests. Many directors needed an extra set of eyes and ears in the classroom so that they could work on NAEYC Accreditation process and now QRIS. Edward Street took this information to the Greater Worcester Community Foundation and it was this foundation that funded the Master Teacher position. As Master Teacher, I visit five different child care agencies in Worcester: YWCA, Worcester Comprehensive Child Care Center, Rainbow Child Development, and The Guild of St. Agnes (Granite and Grove Street locations). These agencies were chosen to have the master teacher support because they serve low income families. Every day I meet with a different agency. From 8am to 12pm I am in the classroom working with teachers and children, and then from 12pm-2pm we talk about what has happened during the week, if there are any issues. We have communication about strategies and what is working and what isn’t. The program has been ongoing for four years and is still funded by the Greater Worcester Community Foundation.
What does coaching involve?
It involves meeting with the teachers and having director buy in and participation. I provide enrichment, materials, books, articles, ideas, websites anything that will help the teachers in the classroom. It involves having conversations with children and teachers to find where the passion and interest is; then I help to provide ideas and materials based on these passions and interests. And I always have a book in my bag. One time a child had asked me if I had any books with me. I told them I may have something in my bag. It turned out the book I had was a book about the body, like what skin is and what organs we have. The child asked if we could look at it together and I said sure. We opened the book and starting learning about the skin and what a liver is and before we knew it, 30 or 40 minutes had passed. This child was consumed in this book, and this moment would not have happened if the child never asked to see the book.
What type of teacher seeks a coach?
Both experienced and inexperienced teachers seek help from the Master Teacher. It all depends on what their needs are. Experienced teachers need the free time in order to do research, curriculum, and strategy planning. I help the inexperienced teacher by modeling in the classroom and showing them strategies on how to work with children.
How does coaching enrich the classroom?
My coaching helps to give support where the directors and teachers need it most. I meet with the teachers individually and as a team and discuss their professional, personal and classroom goals. I do team building with the teachers in the classroom. We work together and share ideas so that we are effective in the classroom. We work on modeling and strategy so that their classroom time benefits the children to the maximum.
What changes have you seen in the teachers and children?
I always tell the teachers they get out of it what they put into it. I have seen teachers strive and work hard and the whole agency benefits. Other classrooms see what the teachers are doing and it begins to extend into the other classrooms. I see the children connecting to each other, building relationships and communicating. There are positive interactions between the children and teachers, myself included, and it’s these positive interactions that form lasting relationships and build trust.
What do you think the impact has been?
The impact of the master teacher program has been positive. This program is a wonderful resource to the child care agencies it serves. Teaching teams are functioning more effectively which produces a better learning environment for our children.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
Seeing everyone grow and get excited about what they are doing. I see a lot of growth in myself and I learn a lot from the teachers and children. I love seeing good ideas and I will often tell the teachers, “I am going to steal that idea.” (laughing).
In expressing their gratitude, The Guild of St. Agnes gave this poem to JoAnn:
One year of fun
Twelve months of laughs
We can’t believe a year has passed!
As time has gone
You’ve seen us grow.
Now, we just want to let you know
We loved your presence,
Your ideas and advice
You helped us to calm and even think twice.
We’re problem solvers, super helpers,
And science enthusiasts too!
We’ve learned all of this because of you!
JoAnn, Thank you for all you have done for Preschool Red.