Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Fairy Dust Teaching Winter Conference 2018: Loose Parts to Promote STEAM

Loose Parts to Promote STEAM


Loose parts are such an integral part of our program at Red River ELC because they are inclusive, engaging and supportive of all children in our program. I love to see how creative the children can be with the materials so I was really excited to listen to this webinar.

Lisa Daly (one of the professional authors featured in this webinar) discussed the fact that using loose parts can encourage symbolic thought because children are using items as many different things. They come to understand that one thing can stand for another thing and this skill can be applied to letters and numbers! What an inspiring reason to incorporate loose parts in to play.

It's so incredible to hear that incorporating loose parts in to the classroom can help with behaviors that stem from anxiety! That these pieces can inspire self-confidence, creativity and support development across the spectrum of growth.

I love that Miriam Beloglovsky (author) stated that elements of STEAM are not taught in isolation and should be integrated everywhere in order to make sense. Loose parts allow children to explore each of these concepts without limiting their creativity, innovation or critical thinking. It brings STEAM to life in a natural way without pressure, just by providing children with the tools to explore!

Technology in the preschool/toddler/infant classroom can look like simple tools, paraphrasing from the video: you must know how tools work before you can discover how more complicated technology like a computer works. Providing simple loose parts allows children to manipulate and change things in their environment, to discover what tools to use to solve problems.

Tinkering is valuable for children; it creates opportunities to problem solve, to test and develop wonder. What can we place in the environment to inspire engineering?
  • wood planks
  • gutters
  • tubes
  • water
  • dirt
  • mud
  • baking soda
  • vinegar
Listening to this webinar it really struck me that it is crucial to trust children. To give them chances to take risks. Be there to support them but allow them to explore safely: "Take care of the hazard so that you can allow the risk"

"Look for the verb, not the noun" - Being aware of the schemas of development and observing what the children are interested in allows you to enrich your environment with materials that will encourage the exploration of what truly engages them. Materials must be intentional and provoke children's learning.

Reflective practice is so important; it helps you to understand how to enrich the environment for the children to explore and to expand on their learning. Make sure that materials are of interest to them.

This webinar was amazing! I can't wait to dive in to the rest of the Winter Conference 2018!

Friday, 2 February 2018

Documentation for the Children

I wanted to create a simple piece of documentation that was accessible to the children in my program; I decided putting together a photo album of their adventures together would be a great method to allow them to revisit their learning either independently or with guidance from me.




The album has been a great success! The children spent most of the morning cycling through the pictures talking old friends and the things we had been working on when the pictures were taken. The best part is that this is easily updated so there will always be something new to explore when they pick it up to take a look.

Sometimes the simplest things have the biggest impact! <3

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Stages of Play Info Graphic

Today I made an info graphic to share the stages of play. I think it will be a great point of discussion with families when we talk about the learning that goes on in our class.

I'm also hoping that it can be shared in the learning community by other professionals.

Mildred Parten's record of the stages of play is a great and straightforward framework in which to explore children's social development through play and to communicate the complex and important skills children develop through unstructured play.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Belonging and Connectedness Article

Part of my Continuous Professional Learning journey this year has been to keep developing a sense of belonging and inclusiveness in my program. I found an article while doing some research tonight and wanted to share it as I feel it would be a beneficial read for any child care provider.

A sense of belonging isn't just important for children, but also for families as a whole; this portion of the article especially spoke to me and my goals to continue to build strong partnerships with families:

"Working together to care for children is the best way for early childhood services and families to support children’s mental health. Families and staff can help to create a bridge between home and early childhood services. When the adults responsible for children take a positive interest in what happens at their service, it helps children feel more at home when they are there. It also makes it easier to pick up any concerns early when they are easiest to resolve."

I'm really proud of the welcoming program I have created and the way that it embraces each family, regardless of differences. Creating connectedness with parents supports a positive partnership in the early learning environment which is so important for children's education and social/emotional well being.

I have created a digital space (a Facebook group) for the caregivers to interact, connect, and share with me and eachother each day. I will be working on creating more opportunities for families to interact in a casual space (I'm currently scouting out The Children's Art Factory for a daycare playdate), and also to participate in our classroom by sharing their skills or time with the children when they are able. For families that cannot participate in the class during the day I'm hoping to include them by creating a space in the classroom where they can share their hopes and dreams for their little ones.

Check out the article Belonging and Connectedness


Promoting Social and Emotional Learning in Preschool: Programs and Practices That Work, by Karen Bierman




Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Professional Learning Plan

Instructions 

  1. Review your Self-Assessment Tool. 
  2. Reflect on the three professional learning goals you have identified. 
  3. Research and brainstorm learning activities that support you in realizing your goals. 
  4. Complete the Professional Learning Plan below. 

Professional Learning Goal #1

Build and strengthen relationships with other professionals and colleagues to facilitate community partnerships in order to benefit and support children and families.


Professional Learning Activities & Timeline

  • Network with colleagues in Facebook groups to support others in their practice and learning journeys (ongoing).
  • Continue developing NEED KW with Lesley; a directory to showcase and support high quality independent child care providers in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. (ongoing)
  • Meet with S. G. in regards to potentially developing a hub for child care providers and parents at her location. (Ongoing)
  • Collaborate with our music and movement instructor to do a music and movement program at the seniors home in the spring (May, 2018?)
  • Conduct workshops for new home child care providers to support the growth of their programs (ongoing?)

Professional Learning Goal #2

Communicate learning that occurs in the classroom through different types of pedagogical documentation.


Professional Learning Activities & Timeline

  • Create photo albums and displays at child level to allow the children to revisit our past adventures and learning experiences (ongoing)
  • Update learning stories blog to keep parents up to date on our programming.
  • Print learning stories and display them in a book so that they are accessible to all families, children and visitors.
  • Read "Pedagogical Documentation in Early Childhood: Sharing Children's Learning and Teachers' Thinking" (May, 2018)
  • Research and attend workshops and webinars that focus on documentation and making learning visible for parents in the early years (ongoing)

Professional Learning Goal #3

Continue to strengthen and develop the inclusiveness of the program at Red River Early Learning Centre


Professional Learning Activities & Timeline

  • Create a "hopes and dreams" board; caregivers will write their hopes for their children on a piece of ribbon and we will weave it in to our frame. This way parents are always represented and included in our classroom in a tangible way (March, 2018)
  • Represent the children's different cultural backgrounds through music and stories in the classroom (ongoing)
  • Attend webinar "Promoting Social and Emotional Learning in Preschool: Programs and Practices That Work, by Karen Bierman" (January 17, 2018)
  • Edit all paperwork and handbook; change "parent" to "caregiver" or "guardian" to be inclusive of all potential family arrangements (February 2018)
  • Develop methods to include our younger students, and students of varying skill levels, in each of our activities by brainstorming with colleagues and researching (ongoing)
  • Continue to explore ways to represent families and cultures in our classroom community (ongoing)

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Self-Assessment Tool - Part 3 - Professional Learning Goals

Instructions 

  1. Begin Part 3 by reviewing your responses in Part 1 and 2. 
  2. Complete the chart below by identifying three priorities for your professional learning over the next two years. 
  3. For each priority, indicate the related standard(s). 
  4. Next, develop a professional learning goal for each priority and ensure that the goal is related to the standards identified for that priority. You will work toward these three goals during this two-year portfolio cycle. Consider creating goals that are: 
    • Specific 
    • Measurable 
    • Action-oriented 
    • Realistic 
    • Timely

First Professional Learning Priority

Build and strengthen relationships with other professionals and colleagues to facilitate community partnerships in order to benefit and support children and families.


Related Standards

  • Standard I: Caring and Responsive Relationships
  • Standard IV: Professionalism and Leadership

Professional Learning Goals

Working collaboratively with other professionals in my field and across a variety of disciplines.

Second Professional Learning Priority

Communicate learning that occurs in the classroom through different types of pedagogical documentation.


Related Standards

  • Standard II: Curriculum and Pedagogy

Professional Learning Goals

Develop methods of documentation that are accessible to children, families and colleagues in a variety of ways which invite both reflection and collaboration.

Third Professional Learning Priority

Continue to strengthen and develop the inclusiveness of the program at Red River Early Learning Centre


Related Standards

  • Standard III: Safety, Health and Well-Being in the Learning Environment

Professional Learning Goals

Research and develop strategies for implementing successful programming in a multi-age classroom in which children demonstrate a variety of skill levels.
Reflect unique families and cultures in the classroom environment.

Friday, 29 December 2017

Fairy Dust Teaching Webinar: Atelier Set Up

Fairy Dust Teaching offered this webinar as a bonus because I signed up for their Winter Conference. I was very excited when I received the email as the children in my class are very drawn to art and are incredibly creative. Supplying materials to encourage the development of creative representation that are also safe to make accessible to the younger infant students can be a challenge; I'm excited to tackle creating a better atelier space in my classroom.

Notes:

After participating in this webinar I have spent some time reflecting on the idea that I must be intentional in how I set up the classroom and present both art materials and other materials. I must be aware of what the classroom is calling the children to do; what feelings of competency is my set up supporting? "Children thrive in indoor and outdoor spaces that invite them to investigate, imagine, think, create, solve problems, and make meaning from their experiences – especially when the spaces contain interesting and complex open-ended materials that children can use in many ways." (How Does Learning Happen? Page 20)

"If you put things out of reach or behind curtains where they can't touch, what does that tell a child?"

This question from the webinar was very powerful and spoke to me deeply. I think that for some educators it can be difficult to allow children to have access to that many art materials independently; however giving the children the opportunity to work with them demonstrates your trust and respect for the children in your care. I believe each of the children in my class are competent and capable individuals (How Does Learning Happen?Page 6); I want to ensure that the materials in my class encourage the children's explorations and express that I believe that they are skillful and curious.


Implementation:

While the little ones are off on winter break I'm hoping to tackle the "Atelier" area of our classroom to make it more inviting and beautiful. I want to include safe materials (as they may be mouthed by my younger students) such as fresh markers, natural collage materials and glue, paints, brushes, clay, and mats so that the children can define their work areas.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Self Assessment Tool - Part 2 - Reviewing the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice

Standard I: Caring and Responsive Relationships 

(x) I have read Standard I: A – C on pages 8-9 of the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. 

Identify your strengths and any areas for growth, leadership development or professional learning interests from Standard I. Reference the specific standards (e.g. Standard I: C.4).

Building positive relationships with children, families, and other professionals in the field of Early Childhood Education is a fundamental part of my core professional values. I believe these relationships of mutual trust and cooperation are absolutely necessary if a Registered Early Childhood Educator wishes to demonstrate high quality practice.

I feel that as an educator I excel at connecting with children, developing caring and nurturing relationships which support their growth across the spectrum of development. I would love to continue to hone these skills as these relationships are essential for young children. (B. 2)

I want to ensure that I am responsive, caring and supportive of other professionals in my field. I find that sometimes in the whirl and business of the day it is hard to dedicate time to supporting other educators. I feel that one of the most important ways to learn is from each other and I hope to develop communication strategies to work more effectively and collaboratively with other professionals (C. 6)

Standard II: Curriculum and Pedagogy

(x) I have read Standard II: A – C on pages 10-11 of the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.

Identify your strengths and any areas for growth, leadership development or professional learning interests from Standard II. Reference the specific standards (e.g. Standard II: B.3).

I am thankful that as an educator I have always worked within child-centred, play based programs. It has assisted me in building a strong base to work from as a co-learner in the early childhood classroom. I am passionate about implementing a child-directed and inquiry based program driven by current knowledge of child development and learning theories.

I would like to take some time to further discover the intricacies of the How Does Learning Happen document as this will assist in guiding the children in their learning (B. 3) and in creating pedagogical documentation to communicate that learning with families. (C. 7)

Standard III: Safety, Health and Well-Being in the Learning Environment 

(x) I have read Standard III: A – C on pages 12-13 of the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. 

Identify your strengths and any areas for growth, leadership development or professional

I love the indoor learning space that I have created at Red River Early Learning Centre. I have incorporated loose parts into our space that are safe for my young infant students as well as engaging for my preschool and school age students. These materials have provided so many amazing opportunities for the children to explore in a variety of creative ways. I have also utilised adaptive materials to ensure that the youngest students are included in activities such as a high chair at table height so my littlest child can work with the oldest ones at the art table.  I would like to continue to implement strategies to include children of various levels of development and abilities by making adaptations to the environment with the support of other colleagues (C. 4)

I include pictures of the children in the environment as well as their artwork to foster a sense of belonging for each child in the class. Books, materials, dolls, and more are presented in different areas of the classroom to reflect the diverse cultures, family structures, and individuals in our community. My goal is to create a warm and welcoming space where each family and child feels valued, I will continue to research methods to further develop inclusiveness within my program and reach out to colleagues and families for support in this journey (C. 1)

Standard IV: Professionalism and Leadership

(x) I have read Standard IV: A – C on pages 14-15 of the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.

Identify your strengths and any areas for growth, leadership development or professional learning interests from Standard IV. Reference the specific standards (e.g. Standard IV: C.7).

It is highly important to me to demonstrate professionalism as a Registered Early Childhood Educator and as an Independent Home Child Care Provider. I have acted as a leader in my field and as a resource for other home child care providers seeking information regarding current legislation that guides professionals in the field (B. 1) I have also been a mentor for new educators in the field, answering questions and providing support when required (C. 7)

My main goal in this area is to build and strengthen my partnerships with the community and work to establish collaborative relationships with members of other professions in order to access their unique expertise (C. 3) as I feel this would be hugely beneficial to the children and families that I work with.


Standard V: Professional Boundaries, Dual Relationships and Conflicts of Interest 

(x) I have read Standard V: A – C on pages 16-18 of the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. 

Identify your strengths and any areas for growth, leadership development or professional learning interests from Standard V. Reference the specific standards (e.g. Standard V: C.6). 

I believe that it is very important to have professional boundaries and strive to maintain them in relationships with clients and other professionals (Standard V: B. 1) while also cultivating communication and transparency in my practice. I am aware of what constitutes a conflict of interest and ensure that these situations are managed appropriately and professionally (Standard V: B. 7)

Standard VI: Confidentiality, Release of Information and Duty to Report 

(x)I have read Standard VI: A – C on pages 19-20 of the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. 

Identify your strengths and any areas for growth, leadership development or professional learning interests from Standard VI. Reference the specific standards (e.g. Standard VI: C.2). 

Thankfully I have never really had any issues arise during my career that I have been required to report. However, I feel it is important to sharpen my knowledge in regards to the Child and Family Services Act in order to continue to provide the best support for children and families in my program, so I will set aside some time to read it over again as part of my professional development (B. 5)

Self-Assessment Tool - Part 1 - Reflection Questions

1. Reflect on your practice and think broadly about what impacts your work

Brainstorm and make a list of things that impact your work.

  • Child Care and Early Years Act Regulations relating to independent home child care.
  • Developing supportive and collaborative relationships with families.
  • Creating a classroom environment that acts as a "third teacher" (Reggio Educational Philosophy).
  • Implementing programming for a multi-age class. 
  • Developing creative invitations to learn.
  • Networking with colleagues as an independent child care provider.

2. Think about the role of others in your professional practice. How do you seek, offer and consider feedback from others? What have you learned from others? What do others learn from you?

Working as an independent home child care provider I don't have the opportunity to interact in person with colleagues every day. My networking has to be very intentional as I set aside time in my day to speak to other professionals through messenger or in child care provider forums regarding their struggles and my own relating to implementing a quality program.
I communicate with parents every day through HiMama; allowing them a window in to our program and keeping them up to date on their child's daily activities. Parents are able to give me active feedback through the app as the day progresses. I also maintain a blog of learning stories (Red River Learning Stories) and invite parent input.
Comments from parents have shown me areas where my program really shines and also places I can improve in order to better meet the needs of families and children.
During my career I have learned from other professionals in the field how to effectively link concepts to experiences through playful learning every day and that the best way to manage a classroom is to control the environment. I like to think that I pass these two very important lessons on as others observe my program on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

3. Based on your professional practice and notes above, what additional knowledge, skills or resources do you need to support your strengths, areas for growth, leadership development or professional learning interests?

  • Dedicate time to interact with colleagues personally; whether it is a chat over coffee (or perhaps even over skype?)
  • Observe the business social media pages of other home child care providers to seek inspiration to implement within my own program (such as Fairy Dust Teaching).
  • Create detailed posts regarding my own activities, program plans, and excursions to share with other educators.
  • Continue to improve methods of implementing programming effectively for children of varying ages and skill levels.
  • Attend professional development to further understand the intricacies of the Child Care and Early Years Act as it applies to both home child care and institutional care.
  • Read books about implementing play based and nature based learning. Check out webinars and other professional development on the same topic.
  • Implement methods to include parents in our program in a variety of ways.

Monday, 25 December 2017

Professional Development Training (Before CPL)

Even before the CPL Professional Learning Portfolio was implemented by the College of Early Childhood Educators I attended a number of professional development training sessions to ensure that my educational strategies remained current in the classroom.

Acorn Collaborative: Video Documentation 04/28/2007
Personal and Professional Leadership 06/27/2007
Providers Helping Providers Conference: Managing Misbehaviour/Little Hands Talking 11/03/2007
I Am Clay Workshop 11/07/2007
Toddler Art Studio 01/09/2008
Second Step: A Violence Prevention Curriculum 02/09/2008
Leadership Develops Daily, Not in a Day 06/19/2008
Rock and Roll Recharge: Stress Mess/Kinderscience 02/21/2009
Supporting the Halton Community 03/30/2009
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Brain Workshop 02/24/2011
Sexualized Behaviour in Children 09/13/2011
ASQ-3 and Social Development Handbook Training 2011
Emergent Curriculum Series 10/01/2011
Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale Training 07/19/2011
Identifying and Extending Children's Learning 09/18/2012
Caring for the Caregiver: Compassion Fatigue 10/09/2012
RIRO Resiliency Skills Training 02/21/2012
Emergent Practice with Infants and Toddlers 05/29/2012
Playful Inquiry-Based Learning 06/19/2012
Machines: A Perfect Metaphor for Emergent Curriculum 05/12/2012
Pascal's Vision 03/23/2013
Technology and Innovative Ideas in the Classroom 03/23/2013
CPI: Sharing Strategies (Nonviolent Crisis Intervention Program) 10/02/2013
Beginning ASL 07/13/2013
Home Childcare Network 03/13/2014
Humane Education 04/14/2014
Let's Open the Doors: Turning Curriculum Inside Out 04/16/2014
Breaking Down Gender Stereotypes 03/07/2015
Constructivist Approach to Early Learning 03/07/2015
Invitation to Play and Learn 10/10/2015
The Importance of Early Experiences 10/10/2015
How Playing is School Readiness 10/10/2015
Family Engagement 04/20/2016
Why Infant Mental Health Experts Say Sensitive Care and Play Trump Early Academics 04/27/2016