It’s 4.30pm on a Friday afternoon and I finally sit down. The kindy is all packed up and my day and week are finished. It has been a beautiful week, a very busy week, but a good one. As I sit here I begin to reflect, breathe a sigh of relief and a thought pops into my head
‘What on earth would I do if I didn’t have Storypark?” It has become such a huge part of my teaching practices and our kindy’s practices. I think I would leave teaching. This reflection came as a big shock! What makes Storypark such an important part of my teaching?
So, I look back on the day I’ve had and all the pressures and requirements we have as teachers to unpack the reasons why Storypark is so important to me.
I have been here since 7 am, I wanted to get an early start on setting up the camping for our fun adventure we are going on with the children. *
* (Which I have had to write a risk assessment for the ropes, nets and tools.
I have also walked around the Kindergarten and completed a yard check and carpark check. There was a homeless man in the park across the field and he has left alcohol bottles. There also are some broken bottles on the car park, so I have collected and recycled the bottles, swept up the broken bottles and made sure no little feet can get glass in them. Oh, fun! There is a dead possum. After dry retching I was able to remove it. I will have to note all the hazards discovered in the playground on our checklist which feels a meter long, this task becomes any easier job with the section we have created in Storypark.)
It’s now 7.30am and my assistant has arrived. We both get straight to work with raking the sandpit, creating an obstacle course, mixing paints, wiping tables, getting out playdough. Ensuring there is enough paper/pens and the collage is all topped up. We are now sprinting making every minute count. As we are running we are talking about the day, the children we will be focusing on, the strategies we have created for them, reflecting on the reasons we are altering the environment, the music, transitions and stories we have chosen for the day.*
(We took photos of the changes to the environment and were able to add them to the reflections in our teaching community area on the Storypark page, to also link them to the observations we had taken of the group and how the environment would support and extend their learning. We are then able to link this to a learning tag and our group goals and philosophies).
The clock ticks 8.00am it’s time to open our doors.
Welcome everybody to our beautiful kindy! A rush of parents and children come through the door. I see the Mums looking flustered with siblings in tow. Kindy children smile as they greet me and I bend down to collect as many good mornings I can.
(I see the mother I have been having one on one conversations with on Storypark, she is waiting patiently to speak to me. I can see the anxiety and worry in her face. I console her, empathise with her, let her know her child will be loved and cared for with all of my heart. I see the calmness come over her but it’s time to say goodbye. She is brave and her child is brave…they say goodbye, the child stays by my side for the morning.)
It is time to start our day. I ring the bell and ask the children to have a drink of water,
We come to the yarning circle mat, we acknowledge the traditional owners of the land and open the yarning time.
(Our kindy has been working on our RAP (Reconciliation Action Plan) and have been using the planning section on our Storypark page to link our goals to our practices.This RAP has been shared with our families so they are able to add to the planning.)
We then begin planning our day. The children tell me their ideas and I remind them of the planning and reflecting we did yesterday. They brainstorm and I quickly write down their ideas on the whiteboard, some children take notes and draw their plans. (I take photos of the whiteboard plan and children’s planning, I use these photos of the planning sessions and children’s voice as the planning and reflection area within Storypark when I create plans from their observations.)
The children have told me their ideas for camping and we head to our campsite to make our sausages and marshmallow stew. YEP that’s right sausages and marshmallow stew all together was the recipe.
At the campsite, we create our masterpiece together, my friend who is by my side is watching. We make a campfire with the group, then I see he has left my side to help gather sticks, hold on he is telling the others how to cook the sausages.
My role modelling, bridging and supporting the group has meant that I can start to back away and observe its progress.
(I capture this moment of him and them… I send the photo and quick story to his family… I get the response moments later…
“Thank you so much I have been in tears the whole morning leaving him, I can breathe, I can see he is fine and he is so happy, Thank you so much”)
This was all before 10.30am. It is so clear that we need Storypark.
- observations, portfolio’s, planning, reflections, finding the right links to curriculum/theorists, community posts with our families and staff and then ensuring I can confidently show an Office of Early Childhood assessor all the things we are doing.
- There is no way that I could easily create a learning and sharing area that allows for all our teachers to share their reflections and as a team support each other on our own learning journeys. A place for all of our personal goals and links to how we have achieved them. A teaching and learning classroom we have created in Storypark where all our teachers can upload files, questions, our staff meetings, workshop notes and reflections.
- The linking we have created to our learning stories back to our Kindergarten’s philosophy, Kindy goals and Quality Improvement Goals.
- Linking all the children’s project work stories together and planning and reflecting on them. Seeing the Officer from Early Childhood’s face being blown away by the ease of showing her all the National Quality Framework Links.
Before Storypark, I constantly felt that I was doing all this work and we had all these different places, a place for our reflections, a place for our staff meetings, a place for our workshop notes and reflections, a place for our goals, a place for our planning, a place for community sharing. ARGhhhh it felt crazy!! It took lots of time and love to make sure all these places were kept. Honestly, they weren’t! I can say that as a kindy that is constantly striving for beyond high-quality care and education for our children and families this pressure was too much. We were not able to produce the level of reflections, linking, connections, planning without using a huge amount of our own personal time and we were all feeling burnt out.
We knew we needed to search for an answer, we needed change before we lost our love and passion for our job. Storypark constantly evolves to reflect our needs. I love that Storypark even says ‘Storypark is like playdough it is moulded and shaped by who uses it’.
Storypark has been the answer for us as a teaching team and for our families. As a Teacher, as an Educational Leader, as a Director, and as an Early Childhood Advocate, I can say that if I didn’t have Storypark I would walk away from teaching and am thankful I don’t need to.