I was impressed upon meeting Yslandy when she became my coachee at the Dominican Women’s Development Center/Mama Tingo Childcare & Learning Center, a Start with Stars program (soon to be QUALITYstarsNY!). The Dominican Women’s Development Center’s offers a year round dual-language (Spanish & English) full day program that focuses on healthy development and preparing children for success in school. The center supports 110 children from 2-5 years old in a safe, affordable, quality, and comfortable early learning environment.
As a former teacher of two-year-olds myself, Yslandy’s ability to speak about the importance of rules, routines, and developmentally appropriate practices in her classroom of two-year-olds sparked my interest and admiration. Yslandy has a wealth of knowledge of what’s best for all children, but especially for the children in her care, who she has come to love and know deeply. Each day she brings that passion and attention to detail and it shows in her classroom, as well as in her success at online education with two-year-olds. As we became closer in our coaching relationship, I asked her to share her experience with the blog as a way to inspire others and to showcase her talents as an exceptional early childhood professional. In our coaching we have explored her background, future goals, passion and dedication to high quality education.
Background/Experience and Current Position
I was born in Dominican Republic in 1988. I grew up in a field, where I found myself using all sorts of objects to play in imaginary classrooms, playhouse, create pretend weddings with my friends and come up with our own games. I grew up close to my cousins who ranged from a variety of ages. Receiving an education for everyone was difficult to come by, but I remember how when I was 10 years old, I sat my cousins in front of a blackboard to teach them letters, numbers and teach them how to read. My uncle’s wife is a professor in a high school in Dominican Republic. Sometimes I helped her to check exams when I was 14 years old. When I was 18 years old, I came to the United States. I took English classes and after 2 years, I registered for college, planning on studying Business Administration. Alianza Dominica (La Familia Unida Day Care) was the second job I have ever had, and while in college I started in the office, helping the bookkeeper. After 2 years, the director of the program offered me a position in the classroom as a teacher’s aide. It is here where I began to gain more experience in managing the classroom, interacting with the children, and art and creativity. Soon after I realized I found my true calling to become a teacher. After 2 years, Alianza Dominicana closed. However, I was able to find a job in another program called Bright Children. As a provider in Bright Children, I had the opportunity to interact with children ranging from ages 6 weeks old to preschoolers. The routines I had learned were different, but I was able to adjust to the changes. I supported the classroom with a variety of routines and art activities.
In 2015, I started working in Mama Tingo Learning Center. I was an assistant teacher in a pre-k classroom. I was working with a wonderful teacher. She taught me that every person in the classroom – aide or assistant – are the same as a teacher. So, she made me feel like I was equally a teacher like her. The way she engaged with the students with love and instruction was very impressive to me. I learned how do lesson plans, provide activities, creative routines, and more important, learned how to work with students with special needs. Working with her was easy and made our job work fluently. We had great teamwork. In September 2018, the director offered me a position to work as a lead teacher. I was so honored to be given that position. I was going to be working with someone I had been looking up to for so many years. Patricia not only became an amazing mentor but also became a great friend. I realized that with being offered the position it meant I was going to have to work alone in the classroom as I would soon find out that Patricia was pregnant, she would be going on maternity leave mid-October, I was the only person could cover her. February 2019, I became the Orange classroom teacher.
Children Routines, Rules and Expectations
Classroom routines are so important in the children’s life. Lacking a routine affects how the classroom will run and may lead to chaos. In September I always begin the school year with little classroom tours with the students, where I explain the different areas in the classroom. I use pictures to explain the routines and the time, using a clock with lights. It is a team effort with my co-workers. The first week is about learning about classroom rules by a song. Next week we start introducing routines by providing pictures “Okay, now it is time to eat breakfast” “Are you done? Okay let’s go to the carpet with a book.” One of the teachers waits on the carpet. We do the morning meeting and send the kids to centers. When we have almost finished center time, I provide the clock and say, “We have five more minutes to play, after that it is time to clean up.” The students have an idea that it is almost time to transition. These routines always repeat so the classroom is more organized and the students know what is coming next.
Virtual class for 2-year-olds can be a little difficult. When my school went into quarantine, I met with my team about ideas. The first things I was thinking was Seesaw and schedule. I coordinated a parent meeting via Zoom. I explained the children’s schedule and what Seesaw is. I provided activities about coloring, books, sharing videos about body movements songs, trace, what they see in the pictures, sorting colors and shapes, activities according to the theme in the Seesaw. I teach 8 students and 6 participate students in the Seesaw. Also, I teach by Zoom 2 times in the week. I continue the same way I teach in the school, but I provide more fun by playing games, questions and provide little body movement time. I always have 5 or 6 students in the Zoom meeting.
My philosophy is that every child deserves to have a better education. No matter what social status, your race or your way to learning, every child deserves to have a good education. So many teachers are out in the school only for a paycheck, but we also have teachers like me that are here to teach -to see the difference or make an impact in the child’s life. My biggest happiness is when I find some parents and they talk to me about all the achievements that their child has in another school. I realize that I make the difference in the children’s life.