Hi, I'm Ms. Gaal!


What languages do you speak?

Tell us about yourself.
Hello Families!  My name is Denise Gaal and I'm just moving back to the Fairfax County area.  I am married with three children. I have been supporting children’s growth for over 20 years as a student, mother and preschool teacher.  My new passion is Forest Kindergartens and Nature Preschools where curriculum is developed through the interests of children’s own explorations in nature.  My Inquiry-based teaching style  will offer a interest-led, flow learning environment through an emergent curriculum.  Teaching preschool gives me the chance to share and discover with children, bringing them questions about what they see, hear, smell, taste and touch in our world.   

In your opinion, what is the role of the live teacher in a world where it is becoming increasingly easy to get access to information through the internet and online courses?
I believe a teacher today needs to follow the interests of the children.  If they wonder about something in the world, we as teachers should ask more questions about how to find out those answers and investigate it with them.  

How can we, as teachers of children, work to build a society where people are respectful towards each other and the environment?
I believe children need role models and guidance as they learn about themselves and others in the world.  I like to incorporate a sense of family into my class as we explore all of our differences and similarities in each other and outside of the class.  Through empathy and kindness we can teach inclusiveness among the  children as we share experiences in the environment with other living things (animals and plants).  

Who was your favorite teacher and why?
I didn't have a favorite teacher, but did find that as a child, I trusted and respected certain characteristics of a teacher.  A teacher that is patient, kind and had a gentle voice and one that guided me on how to succeed with the task at hand. 

Share a teaching memory that had a profound impact on you.
I think that in my time teaching early childhood education, I have seen how teachers want so much to teach preschool children the prerequisite for entering Kindergarten.  My observations are that the children are not ready to sit down and do the flashcards, writing and math, etc...  The children just want to play and as Early Childhood Educators, we need to be following the child's lead and make learning any inquisitive topic fun.  In my opinion, preschool is a time for children to fine tune their social skills and just play.  As one of my favorite quotes says, "Play is the work of children." J. Piaget

What is your philosophy on and approach to behavioral management?
I believe teachers need to share with children their feelings and how to recognize them.  I have observed and read that every behavior is a form of communication.  In order for children to learn to control  their own behavior, we need to define all that they are feeling.  In the classroom, I guide children in supporting them to explain/label how they are feeling during social interactions and through that feeling what behavior choices they made.  With the child, we discuss options for present and future behavioral choices and how a friend or teacher will be there to support them if they need it.  Children need our support to learn how to behave in the world around them.  

Do you have experience working with children with special needs? If so, please specify.
I have had children with special needs in my classroom but under the guidance of a behavioral therapist.  

Please list any relevant licenses, degrees or certifications.
Bachelor of Science in Family and Human Development, CPR, AED & Basic First Aid to include PMAT, Certificate of Completion for Cedarsong Forest Kindergarten Teacher Training Level 3