This week’s guest post is written by Diane Kashin and Cindy Green, of Ontario Canada.
In 2014, our province published How Does Learning Happen? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years. At the centre of learning are children, educators, and families. With the view of children, families and educators as capable, competent and rich in potential, the four conditions for learning are; belonging, well-being, expression and engagement. In 2016, The Ontario Ministry of Education released the revised Kindergarten Program with an additional four frames for learning.
This graphic shows how the foundations and frames for early learning are connected. When children, families and educators feel a sense of belonging and well-being they are better positioned to engage and express themselves. This is how learning happens! We are very excited with this integrated approach to early learning. Collectively we have 70 years of experience working as early childhood educators and early childhood education professors in Ontario. For the past few years, we have presented and facilitated many, many workshops on How Does Learning Happen? Drawing from our years of experience, we reflect often – alone and together on how best to support others on this journey of professional pedagogical learning. We always strive for workshops that are hands on so as to model learning by doing. At the same time, we want attendees to reflect while they play and to make the connections between doing, feeling, thinking and practice. Working together we came up with a visualization exercise that you see us engaging in during this Mat Time video, compiled by Storypark.
When we came up with this exercise we wanted to incorporate loose parts and we wanted educators to slow down and really think and reflect on the complex nature of the pedagogical framework. We wanted an exercise that was collaborative and co-constructed. We assigned metaphorical qualities to each of the loose parts:
- The mat represents our theoretical foundation;
- The mirror stands for reflective practice;
- The frame represents the four frames in the Kindergarten document;
- The pebbles are the children, families and educators;
- The tree cookies are for well-being;
- The mosaics for belonging;
- The buttons represent engagement;
- The glass gems are for expression, all four encompass the foundations of learning in the How Does Learning Happen? Early learning pedagogical framework.
Last May we presented a workshop in Manitoba called How Does Learning Happen? Exploring Our Context and brought our visualization bags with us. After we invited participants to engage with the materials, a metaphorical representation of how learning happens resulted. It is always so intriguing to see how each group collaborates and reflects while placing the loose parts to reflect their thinking. The group then shared with us, the meaning that has been expressed. A photograph documented the experience and we welcomed the teachers to share the experience with families and colleagues who were not present.
Our time in Manitoba was very memorable especially because of the connections we made with others https://tecribresearch.wordpress.com/2017/06/03/play-collaborate-elevate-we-rise-by-lifting-others/.
We spent hours engaged in conversations about early learning and especially enjoyed our talks with Peter Dixon and Drew Williams from Storypark who were also attending the conference. When they invited us to tape a mat time video. We agreed as long as it became a time to play and talk!
We are proud of the final outcome and grateful to Storypark for giving us a platform to share with others. We hope you enjoy the video and try out a visualization exercise relevant to your context as a tool for collaborative and co-constructed practice.
We are currently booking professional learning sessions for early 2018 and you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!