Thursday, August 8, 2013

Reflection before the year starts.

I'm using this blog to record my thoughts, musings and wonderings as I journey through teaching. We have just over a week before starting back at school and I have a raft ideas swirling through my head, things I want to try, explore and figure out through the year. 

Long ago when I was studying towards my Masters of Education I explored the notion of hypertext and hypermedia - a new literacy/digital literacy. Have you ever gone on to a website, clicked on something that caught your eye and found yourself moments later on a page you never actually intended on reading but find yourself there anyway? That's what happened to me, I came across the Education Review Office website and found a National Report Summary looking at the Priorities for Children’s Learning in Early Childhood Services (May 2013). As this is written for the New Zealand educational context there is reference to Te Whariki (New Zealand Early Childhood Curriculum). What intrigued me about this brief summary was questions they posed for for early childhood centres to use in reflecting on their priorities for learning.  While my teaching journey has bought me to the other side of the world, the points they have made in this summary apply to my wonderings as I prepare for a new set of children and set goals for myself for the year.

Priorities for children’s learning -  (Copied from ero.govt.nz)

When we are looking at identified priorities for learning, obviously as TKS are an IB School (International Baccalaureate) our focus will be on implementing the PYP (Primary Years programme) and ensuring this is at the root of all decisions made in the classroom. I would like to ensure that my small team of three look at what our identified priorities for learning are for our classroom based on children's personalities, strengths and interests and taking into consideration the aspirations of their families.
  • To what extent is our self review ongoing and responsive to identified priorities for learning?

    I'm very keen to look at implementing Action Research as a form of self review in my classroom this year. I will have a Student Teacher and a Teaching Assistant so I'm looking forward to getting three different perspectives in our class and looking at evidence-based practice. I would like reviewing and reflection to be an integral part of our practice.

  • To what extent are our identified priorities for learning evident in our curriculum design and implementation?

    This leads on from the last point. How will I design the curriculum? Are our practices and implementation of this curriculum aligned with our priorities for learning?

  • To what extent is children’s progress towards meeting our identified priorities for learning evident in assessment?

    Progress - it seems to me that the best way to evidence progress is though the student portfolios. How do we keep a balance between over documentation, steer well away from documenting for the sake of it and documenting so that progress is evident?

  • To what extent does our assessment information show that we recognise and respond to the different cultures, ages and interests of children in our service, and lead to positive outcomes for them?

    The PYP document talks about ensuring that your curriculum is significant, challenging, engaging and relevant. This will be my biggest challenge with such a diverse group of learners from a range of cultural backgrounds. I'm looking forward to this challenge and would like to really unpack this terminology. What does significant, challenging, engaging and relevant mean for us at TKS in the context of our community and the wider city?

  • To what extent is children’s learning in relation to our identified priorities visible to parents, whānau, and children in our assessment?

    Making Learning Visible has been a passion of mine from very early on in my teaching career. Mostly because I have afforded and implemented strong values about the importance of 'learning through play'. I have had to really ensure that parents understood the value of playing in the sandpit, physical play and other 'non-structured' experiences provided.

    With todays pressures on younger children to perform academically it's even more important to ensure the play-based philosophy is made visible. I am not an advocate for hot housing or formal literacy activities - instead I enjoy 'noticing, recognising and responding' to children's interests so that their is depth to their learning and they are engaging in the experiences because they are curious and intrinsically motivated. I'm confident with making learning visible and look forward to sharing children's learning with families through our class website and email. 
    Although this year, I'd like to look deeper at parent engagement and explore meaningful ways for parents and families to contribute to assessments that make a difference to their child's learning.

Watch this space for more musings and my thought processes during what will be an exciting year of learning for us all.

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