Gatepost Interview: Kristin de Chaves Lead teacher at FSU Early Childhood Center

Evan Lee / THE GATEPOST

By Evan Lee

Asst. News Editor

What is your educational and professional background?

I went to UMass Amherst for my undergrad and studied psychology with a minor in education there. When I graduated, I started at Framingham State in their postbac program where I got my teaching license in early childhood education. 

What made you interested in working in early childhood education? 

When I was going to school at UMass, I had an internship at a preschool on campus there and I loved it. So, ever since then, I’ve been working in preschools, daycares, public schools – anywhere to get more experience. And that’s what motivated me to apply to the postbac program at Framingham State to get my license. 

How long have you been working in early childhood education?

I started at that preschool in UMass when I was a sophomore, I believe, so that was in 2015 when I started working in early childhood settings. 

What is your favorite part of working in early childhood education?

There are all different kinds of kids. Everywhere you work, every classroom has a different group and it’s so fun getting to know them and their personalities and learning how they learn best. I’m always learning from the other teachers I work with and from the kids. Every school I’ve ever worked at does things a little bit differently, which is really interesting. You take stuff from everywhere you’ve been, and I like that part of it. 

Can you describe your role and what you do in the Early Childhood Center?

I am one of the lead teachers here, along with my co-teacher, Ashley, and we plan each week’s lessons and then teach them. We make sure that the kids are safe and happy, getting along, and learning. And we pay close attention to their needs and try to teach to that.  

What kind of needs would you say they have? 

Well, every student is at a different level because we have a mixed-age group of children as young as the age of 3 and we have children all the way up to 5 years old. So, some students are already ready to be doing more work with letters and numbers. Some students are just learning how to stand in line and sit on the rug, so we try to meet every student where they’re at.

Have you noticed any challenges with teaching children of different age groups?

It can be challenging because they’re all at different levels. We need to make sure all of our lessons are differentiated. Some students need different things, and sometimes, it’s harder for older students to get that. But in our class, they’re all used to being in a mixed-age group setting, so they do a pretty good job with it. 

How would say the kids are on a daily basis?

They come in, for the most part, happy and excited. We have a lot of opportunities for free play and outdoor play where they get to choose for themselves how they want to play, who they want to play with, and what they want to do. You always see so much more learning when the children are excited about what they’re doing, and so much learning happens in the little moments of something we didn’t even expect, we didn’t plan – like in dramatic play or outside – the things they discover and ask about. It’s very interesting to think of things I wouldn’t have even thought of to teach them. 

What advice can you give to students majoring in early childhood education?

My advice to any student majoring in early childhood education would be, “Get as much experience as you can in the field.” Work at big daycares, home daycares, public schools, volunteer, camps – anything that you can do to work with kids, even if it’s just babysitting. Get to know how children think and just get comfortable in the environment, because it will show when you’re student teaching or getting your first teaching job. It’ll show that you’re comfortable speaking in front of kids. And when you feel comfortable, you’re more able to grab on to little opportunities you see instead of just sticking to your plan. You have to be flexible when you’re teaching, and when you’re comfortable, you’re more able to do that.

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