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.