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Learning by Doing
by Stephanie Capalbo

Stephanie Capalbo is working toward National Board Certification as an Early Childhood Generalist.

December 8, 2003

I used last week to get some taping done. I had it all planned out -- lessons, camera positioning, materials. Of course, I forgot about the glitches:

Two people walked into the classroom room during the taping, behaviors flared up, and the lesson flopped. The interruption came pretty close to the beginning of the lesson, so -- because the kids had great questions and dialogue happening -- I tried to stop and restart the tape. Needless to say, the kids couldn't restage it, and I shouldn't have expected them to. The directions in the NBPTS manual warn you that "practicing" a lesson rarely works, and boy, were they right, even though I was just trying to salvage a bad tape. Mistake number one.

Mistake number two: I tried to tape a bunch of 4- and 5-year-olds at the end of the day! Who was I kidding? They definitely are at their best earlier in the day.

And my biggest mistake? I chose to tape a lesson I had never taught before! I didn't feel comfortable, the kids were uneasy, and it was hard for me to predict their behaviors and conversations, and the pitfalls of the lesson. Again, we were warned about that in the NBPTS directions and at the support groups. I have since regrouped and now I plan to tape a science lesson that is part of a unit I do yearly. I think I let my fear of taping a science lesson get in the way of just teaching science as I have for the past six years!

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Meet Stephanie Capalbo

Stephanie Capalbo received a bachelor's degree in psychology with a concentration in elementary education from Rhode Island College in May 1995. She became certified in early childhood education in August 1997. For the past six years, Stephanie has been teaching kindergarten at Bradford Elementary School in Westerly, Rhode Island. In the fall of 2000, the kindergarten at Bradford became the first and only kindergarten in the district to receive accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). In 2003, Stephanie was named Westerly's Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year.

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