From the Clinic to the Classroom

Posted January 26, 2021

From the Clinic to the Classroom

By Mariel Goettsch

I can’t say I ever thought I would be teaching in a preschool classroom, but I am beyond grateful for the path that led me here.

My discovery of All Seasons was quite serendipitous. While I had left the occupational therapy clinic setting to pursue private practice with OT, I knew it would be smart to have a constant as I rode the waves and uncertainty of starting a new business. It just so happened that my mom was talking one day about her employer (Southview Communities, which operates the senior residences) and sharing with me the unique and thoughtful details of their service delivery, which includes All Seasons’ intergenerational preschools. What I initially thought was going to be a chat out of curiosity with Amy about the development of All Seasons turned into an interview for teaching in the Winter Room! We found each other when neither of us was explicitly searching. It took all of a few minutes before I knew this school had my heart!

The transition from the clinic setting to the classroom has been fairly smooth, although quite dynamic. While I have ten years of experience working with a variety of children, it is a completely different ball game to be present with up to eight children at once. It has provided me with an entirely new perspective on the demands and responsibilities of observing and guiding group dynamics while also considering each individual child’s needs and learning style. These children are at such a pivotal age for developing social skills; teaching has given me a front row seat to watch as they problem-solve through these experiences. There are many trials and what would possibly be considered “failed attempts” at interaction that ultimately lead to learning and growth. It has been a great lesson for me as a new teacher to better understand my role within these interactions, which is most often to simply observe and take note. I sometimes like to consider a silly bowling analogy, in which I am the bumpers in the gutters of a bowling alley. The child is responsible for choosing the ball, deciding how to hold it and where to stand, sending it down the lane, assessing the outcome, and potentially adjusting accordingly for the next try. My job is to be grounded and present, observe, and give just enough guidance to keep the child from repeated or unnecessary failure.

I have always held teachers in high regard, but now I have a newfound appreciation for them! And I am honored to be a part of the greater community at All Seasons that truly values and honors the natural process of learning through play.

Escaping the Trap of Time Confetti at Preschool

Posted January 12, 2021

by Amy Lemieux

The winter solstice has passed, but ironically, on one of the shortest days in possibly our darkest year, I made an unexpected and welcome mental shift that has made my days brighter. I can nail down the change almost to the moment. Rushing into one of the classrooms in December, I glimpsed a little girl wearing fluffy slippers. Her slippers stopped me in my tracks. Looking around the school, I noticed several students wearing slippers, pajamas, a Batman costume, and a cozy robe. It was not pajama day, but a regular winter day. Notably, each child was deeply engaged in her own chosen activity. This particular girl sat with her friends, intently arranging colored tiles in a wooden frame, occasionally stopping to make an observation. It was the picture of contentment.



My frantic and fragmented day decelerated and then stopped altogether. Doing one thing while thinking about the next was a trap I had fallen into without any awareness. The phrase “Live in the moment” sounds clichéd, but that day I found it extraordinary that these children’s parents and teachers had made the decision to let the children be so visibly in the present. My suspicion is that the associated adults live like I do; in frantic, splintered moments. But everyone had intentionally made an exception for the children, and it occurred to me that even in the depths of a pandemic when society had necessarily slowed down, I had not. I was still a prisoner to time confetti and our preschoolers, thankfully, were not.

According to Ashley Whillans, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School, “We have more time for leisure than we did fifty years ago, but leisure has never felt less relaxing.” Never have we had more interruptions; this has become our unhealthy normal. Whillans says that while disruptions might take up to ten percent of our time, they fragment our time into five to six- minute chunks of “confetti.” These splintered moments have made our lives less rich and less satisfying.

Reading that article and a little girl’s slippers that caught my eye have, at least for now, inspired me to set my phone down. Since that day, I have cut my phone time in half. The “do not disturb” setting is on much of the time. Like the children, I am finding contentment in focusing on my immediate environment rather than other people’s demands or what I need to do at a later time. While I have not worn my pajamas to school, I freely settled into an exploration of water colors at the light table with little consideration of what I had to do next.