“Teacher is the compass that activates the magnets of curiosity, knowledge & wisdom in the pupils” -by Ever Garrison
Teaching is such a noble profession where one selflessly gives all the knowledge to the kids and do not expect anything in return except the success of their students. It is my pleasure to interview one such wonderful teacher who is not only a dear friend to the little children, but who knows very well that teaching is like cultivating a garden where you plant a seed of knowledge that grows forever. I would like to introduce Mrs. Clair Muller – mom, wife and a Kindergarten teacher.
Getting to know you: Graduated from Baylor University. I have been married to Albert Muller for 25 years. I have 3 kiddoes Diane, Brittany, and Michael – all graduated from Fort Bend BISD and attending Texas A&M University. I love to dance and wish I could sing 🙂
Mothers Gurukul: It always remains a mystery for us, what exactly do you do to keep the children entertained and challenged for 7 hours that they don’t want to leave school? How do you plan for the day?
Clair Muller: First of all, having a wonderful group of teammates has been the key to the success in planning for our full academic days. We each plan for a different subject, come together, and share how the lessons will look. Of course, we each have different styles, strengths, and students so each lesson will never look exactly the same in all of our classrooms. We feel it is important to have the flexibility to adjust for the different learning styles of our students. It is important to mix it up and provide a variety of activities throughout the day which include whole group, small group, paired activities, and independent work. I do a lot of brain breaks in my classroom to allow them to move a bit and be ready to learn again, get refocused. I like to turn as much as I can into a song and have been known to get pretty goofy. I will add that it is becoming more difficult to keep children attended. They are a generation of children being entertained by technology and media, and I am just not that cool. But, I am still up for the challenge.
MG: I agree, keeping today’s generation kids occupied is definitely not an easy task.
Mrs. Muller you are a Kindergarten teacher and a mom. We say that a mother is the first teacher of her child. Will it be appropriate to say that both these roles; teacher and mother, complement each other? We would like to know if being a mom helps you in a teacher’s role and vice-verse.
Clair Muller: For myself, being a mother and teacher most definitely complement each other. I have been able to transfer my knowledge and experiences from motherhood into my classroom as well as my classroom into raising my own children. There are two things that have truly shown themselves to me. First, the importance of children knowing that you truly care for them. The power of love is amazing. Second is the importance of consistency. Children learn quickly if you mean what you say. You better be careful what you say and be willing to follow through. I do not believe this makes me a better mother or teacher though. Each person draws on their own life experiences. I lost my mother before I had my own children so I was not able to call upon her for advice.
MG: In my opinion, teaching is a very important job. I have seen it in my own family, my mom and grandmother were both teachers. Can you tell us what made you choose teaching as a career?
Clair Muller: I had a love for little ones early on in my life. However, when I went to college my parents would not allow me to major in education. They wanted me first educated in something that I could independently support myself. My first job out of college was with Exxon as a Systems Analyst. It was a job, not a career. When I got married, I went back to school and earned my teaching credentials. I taught 3rd grade for a few years, but then decided to stay home when I had children. I stayed home with my children until my youngest entered first grade. I have now been teaching kindergarten for 12 years and love it. Job satisfaction is off the chart high. To teach a child to read changes their world forever. When I say this to parents at curriculum night, it still brings tears to my eyes.
MG: Wonderful thoughts. I can see how much you love your work.
Next question is related to technology. Nowadays, technology has made everything available on our fingertips. At the same time it obviously has some down sides such as lack of outdoor playtime and social interactions. How do you suggest parents should balance their kid’s interaction with technology?
Clair Muller: This is probably my favorite question you have asked. I feel playtime with their peers is vital to a child’s overall development. I believe being a well-rounded individual is the key to success in life. There is a saying that “play is a child’s work”. Play offers opportunities for children to learn conflict resolution skills establish relationships and develop social boundaries and cues. You can observe the creative, inventive, curious side of them at work. Aren’t these all characteristics of a scientist and a person in both personal and professional successful relationships? They need that time to interact with people face to face, having real communication with no structure or plan. I believe it takes a conscience effort for parents to provide these opportunities in their children’s schedules. Life just gets so busy otherwise. Technology is not awful. It is just that with too much technology, other things get lost.
MG: I loved the saying “play is a child’s work”. Through free play children learn a lot.
Do you think environment is an important aspect of learning? And can you give us few examples of teachable moments?
Clair Muller: Yes, I do believe environment is an important aspect of learning. For learning to take place, children need to feel loved, cared for, respected and safe. An example I use is when parents ask me about snack time. I tell parents we have a designated snack time, but if a child is hungry, they may certainly eat their snack early. If a child has a rumbling tummy or headache from hunger, learning will not take place. I love teachable moments! Successful teaching moments are when students are “engaged”. If you have the opportunity to have eyes and ears glued to your every word, run with it. The learning will be meaningful. I have a quote posted on my classroom wall. It states “the day you are willing to veer off the lesson plan, follow a kid’s lead, and learn with your students is the day you really become a teacher.”
MG: Very well said Mrs. Muller.
There is a saying: “A good book on your shelf is a friend that turns its back on you and remains a friend”. According to you, what should parents do to develop interest for books in their kids?
Clair Muller: I am a firm believer in observational learning, especially with young children. The first thing you can do to develop a love of reading, a love of books, is to allow your children observe you enjoying books of your own. I also recommend that parents make reading time with your children a special time of every day. Get into character. Be dramatic when you read with them. Make it magical.
MG: I am a Kindergartener’s mom and quite often I have been asked by other friends about what are the key things children need to know before entering Kindergarten/public school. I think you can answer that question best.
Clair Muller: Wow, this is a loaded question. Gone are the days when we told parents they need not worry about what their children knew before entering kindergarten. Over the last 10 years, kindergarten has become much more academic and data driven. For children to master the end of year expectations, it is best for children to already be somewhat independent, know letters and sounds, write using lowercase letters, and know their numbers 1 -10. It would helpful if the children can zip, button, and tie laces.
MG: Very useful information.
Mrs.Muller, summer break has already started. Usually, summer break means fun-time. But as a teacher, would you like to add anything for parents whose children are enrolled in KG or those who will be going to 1st grade?
Clair Muller: I would ask that children should not be glued in front of the television. Get out and experience life, visit museums, go to the pool, spend time with your family and friends, interact with people, volunteer, teach your children how to cook, share your interests with your children, talk with them and read, read, read.
MG: That was definitely a good piece of advice. I am sure all our readers must have enjoyed reading this interview same as I did talking to you. It was truly a wonderful experience. Thank you so very much.
That was Mrs. Clair Muller – mom-wife and a Kindergarten teacher.