Lynne, an early childhood educator for Nelson Tasman Kindergarten Association in New Zealand has been using Storypark’s new planning feature for several months with Nayland Kindergarten and shared with us her experiences and how this service plans holistically with their staff, children and families. Due to the successful experience, NTKA is hoping to roll the new planning platform out to further kindergartens in 2018.

How we used to plan for children’s learning

Before Storypark’s new planning tools, we used a range of online forums, particularly wiki, email and google docs to gather perspectives and reflections from all team members. Assessment and documents were stored on individual teachers computers and the paperwork was kept in the central administration office.

It was quite disjointed as we had to work between multiple forums and this meant copying information from one forum to another and at times doing it manually to collate the data/evidence we had gathered.

Using multiple forums was also an issue for the less confident online user and we had occasions when the wiki would crash, lose information and if more than 1 user was online it would freeze.

Planning this way was not a connected or time efficient way to work as a team and over the years the teaching team has diversified and this has made it more problematic to connect face to face or to support other teachers to find pathways through the multi-platforms.

How Storypark planning has helped us overcome these problems

Storypark planning has provided a platform for all our assessment, programme planning, teacher appraisal, administration, strategic and review planning to happen in a collaborative forum. This gives all teachers in the team access to information 24/7, which also supports the different ways and days that teachers work. Storypark planning has enabled multiple teacher/teaching perspectives to be shared with all children, whanau and teachers over time.

We are now all working more collaboratively, teachers can access assessment for children, appraisal information, reviews etc during their individual release time and we have an opportunity to access and link all our planning evidence in Storypark.

Storypark provides a time efficient, holistic planning platform for whole centre planning. We often say it is “our one stop shop”.  

I often wondered how we managed before Storypark as it ‘makes sense’ of planning, makes it accessible and creates a logical pathway to find information.

Enhanced family engagement

Many families are engaging enthusiastically with Storypark as it provides them with real-time happenings through video, photo, planning and discussion. It gives them online opportunities to share their stories from home and all the teaching staff are notified and have an opportunity to respond. This was not always possible with profile books as they were not always accessible.

We have noticed that it really supports those families that work as they can respond to their child’s online portfolio when it suits them and likewise teachers can be very responsive in return.

We use Storypark for gathering all our planning documentation e.g. appraisal, strategic, group and individual planning, administration information (e.g. small groups/allergy and permissions, noticeboard/calendar)

I really love the way Storypark has enabled me to create templates in a room that I have created for myself for my teacher appraisal and for small group work.

See examples of NTK’s templates below, tap each image to enlarge.

With the help of Storypark’s support team, we set up an NTK teacher discussion area so that all the teachers in the kindergarten association have a forum for discussion as we no longer have teacher meetings and do not get to see what is happening Association-wide.

I am excited about the new ‘Domains for Learning’ template (which is in its early stages of conception at NTK to be elaborated on next year) that I have set up to gather whole centre learning domains evidence, this is a very effective and time efficient way to engage whole teams in planning.

I think that Storypark has the potential to be the ultimate ‘planning forum’ that teachers have been seeking for a long time. It is time efficient, links all centre planning together, provides a platform for whole team input and multiple voices and is accessible to everyone at all times.  

Teachers need to be more courageous to explore Storypark so that they can better understand its full potential, plus access the ‘experts’ who are available in teaching teams and through the Storypark help centre. The many forums that Storypark provides eg. Professional practice forum and Facebook articles, research, ideas and support are a testament to the Storypark team’s commitment to high quality.

The design team at Storypark is very responsive and proactive in responding to teachers queries, questions and ‘wishes’ which means that it is designed with teachers, children and whanau at ‘the heart of the matter’.

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