The teacher’s role in the OCP classroom is multifaceted. The teacher is the designer of the child’s environment and maintains the rhythm of the day. He or she constantly interacts with the children and is engaged in an ongoing cycle of observation, guidance, and assessment. The relationship that the teacher develops with each child is instrumental in providing the safe and secure environment on which OCP prides itself. The teacher also helps children work through disagreements as an unbiased mediator. Another important relationship that the teacher nurtures is the relationship with the parent. Open communication with parents occurs on a regular basis, and the unique parent-teaching experience of the cooperative preschool allows for an even stronger relationship between parent, teacher, and child.
The OCP teacher
- Is instrumental in fostering curiosity and a love of learning by choosing activities that are based on the children’s interests and skill levels
- Changes the classroom environment and activities appropriately as the children grow and move through the various stages of development and as their interests change
- Facilitates the experiences through which children learn by creating opportunities for them to make discoveries and initiate learning on their own
- Stimulates questions and helps the child find new answers and experience new challenges
This “child-initiated learning” cultivates independent thinking, problem-solving skills, mental flexibility, and complex, high-level thought. It also allows children to experience trial-and-error methods of learning and teaches them to be sensitive and responsive to feedback both from the environment and from their classmates and peers. These “teachable moments” are carefully integrated into a child’s play and, while subtle in application, are powerful in effect.