Thursday, August 27, 2009

ECE Hui

A few weeks back I had the pleasure of being invited to present a workshop at the Central North and Upper North Island Early Childcare Hui at Pt England School. I had heard rumours that the day would be good, but I was blown away by the whole event and it's organisation. From the amazing people at CORE who organised it (Naketa and crew) through to the keen participants of the day - it was a well spent Saturday!

The day started with the 2 keynote speakers - Jane Nicholls and Derek Wenmoth. I am always interested in what these two people have to say about e-learning and the journey that is happening.

Image used under CC: AlohaMamma

The first workshop looked at how blogs had been used to as the portal for learning stories to strengthened the home-school partnership. I was amazed at how much time and effort had been invested by these teachers to upskill the students and the parents. 1-1 sessions had been undertaken where the teachers worked with families to teach them logging in, leaving comments and more. It has taken alot of hours to develop this and now the centre is working on a 'family asks' basis for the learning stories to be given this way and the families must ensure that they are willing to put in the same amount of hours as the centre. It was refreshing to see how much family involvement was going on with these blogs and how many of the families and students that had left the centre had undertaken ownership of the blog and carried it on. What a powerful way to show learning over the course of a school career or lifetime!!

My next session wowed me in the way the students own interest and passions shone through in what the students were doing and the way they were learning. Their passions were the learning. This is where a lightbulb really turned on in my head in regards to the degree of difference in what is happening in ECE to Primary education. The centre running the workshop talked a lot about students interests and passions and developing those in the centre as the central idea to the learning. Students were involved in learning experiences that breached home to school and back and involved a range of people. Having taught juniors but not spent alot of time in ECE centres this has made me re-think more about how the first year of primary is so far removed from what happens in alot of these centres.

While not on a whole, I think many junior primary teachers would get a shock to see what e-learning experiences their students are involved in before they enter their classes at 5 years of age. I had the chance to talk to several ECE educators about the transition period from ECE to primary and how hard it is. There seems to be several schools who are developing close networks with the schools around them to (see Grasslands Kindergarten blog and their links to Rhode Street School). We are currently looking at getting some of our junior teachers into visit some ECE centres. Also I am keen to look around at what is happening at our ECE centres where our students come from - how this meets with what we are doing and expecting from our students when they arrive at our school from these centres.

4 comments:

Belinda said...

Wouldn't it be amazing to see a more seamless transition from preschool to primary school. One that recognised what the students are already able to do and continue to build on it? It would be amazing to have that level of parent involvement that you heard about as well. I think it will happen albeit slowly.

Naketa said...

Thanks HeyMilly for your reflection on our "Touch the future - Teach the Future" Regional Hui. A huge thanks to you for joining us on the day also.

The teachers in the ECE ICT PL Programme (Ministry funded initiative) have worked incredibly hard over the past 3 years to grasp new concepts, challenge their thinking and really push beyond the box.

Transition from early childhood to primary school is something we are continually working on (some schools easier than others), we are lucky as you say in early childhood to have great parent/whaanau support (an element of this is due to the fact that parents physically pick up and drop children off - legally they have to sign children in and out).

A recent post by Rachel Bolstad http://www.shiftingthinking.org/?cat=64 suggests that early childhood teachers "reinforce that parents are an asset to the teacher as well as their child. If parents learn through real experience with teachers that their ideas, histories, skills, stories, and everyday activities, are part of the stuff of good pedagogy, and that they are not merely backing up the real professionals..."

Our curriculum Te Whariki places huge emphasis on parent and whanau engagement. The transition to school process using ICT has huge benefits and potential its just a matter of dedicating time and space to make it happen.

Exciting times ahead when we reflect on the work that the centres in our programme have achieved and the learning uncovered, its such a great era to be a part of.

Thanks again for your kind words.
Naketa

Miss Signal said...

Thanks Naketa for your comments, they are helpful for me to note. I enjoyed taking part in the Hui and spending some time talking to you and other ECE educators. I have learnt alot about what is happening now and in the future for Early Childcare. The home/school partnership one is one that is very hard... on an average week I would have 1-2 parents climb the stairs to our class. Makes me think about what we could be doing to hook the parents in to climbing the stairs once a week!! It is definetly exciting times - I look forward to seeing/hearing more!

Elaine said...

I am also Primary trained although currently I am a facilitator in the Nelson/Canterbury region on the ECE ICT PL project.
The disjunct between children's experiences in ECE settings and school is a worry. I often see ECE teachers making strenuous efforts to create links with their local schools, sometimes to be put off with comments from teachers that indicate their lack of understanding of Te Whariki and what is happening for children's learning in ECE settings. One of the Kindergartens in this cluster presented their work at an ICTPD cluster startup meeting. Clearly the school teachers had little idea what was happening at Kindergarten. The kindergarten teachers challenged many preconceptions held by school teachers. Since then many teachers have spent time visiting the Kindergarten, and learning to appreciate the record of learning that is in children's portfolios. Lets keep the dialogue going, and respect the teachers in the 'other' sector as professional colleagues who share the same interest in children's learning.

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