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Reflections Magazine : Issue 56 Spring 2014
REFLECTIONS • GOWRIE AUSTRALIA • SPRING 2014 - ISSUE 56 15 • We have become co-learners with the families who are showing us new ways of laying out our documentation and giving us different ideas about what our documentation might look like. Through seeing the stories families give us, our focus has been sharpened, and some of the things noticed and celebrated in families give us ideas of dispositions for learning and child led interests to watch out for. • We are sharing inspiring stories and examples at our staff meetings, so that our personal learning is reaching the whole staff team. We have implemented a buddy system for writing and sharing our stories, and we offer constructive feedback about them, both within our buddy pairs and as a whole staff team. This has helped to shape us as a community of learners -- we are being more reflective and reading our stories through several different lenses, for example, the parent, the child, the new educator. • One of the ideas Wendy suggested was to place some information about new primary caregivers into folders when children are making transitions from room to room. We have since implemented this, and feel that it has enhanced our connections to families -- it's like pieces of a puzzle coming together. Having our pictures on the wall and on the doors of the rooms is facilitating this connection too. Families are talking with their children about who will be in the room that day, and which room they will be moving to next, which is also supporting peaceful transitions. • The connections with families that are new to our service have also been more positive since we began this way of working. We are able to share examples of existing documentation with new families, and the new families can gain a feel for our philosophy and way of working through the documentation we share. As parents and children become more settled within the service, parents become proud of sharing pieces of their home life with us -- they can see the value in what we're working on with their children during the day, and we can see what learning and living is celebrated at home. Highlights From the beginning, the biggest highlight for us was getting the chance to meet Wendy Lee who was such a big part of the development of Learning Stories and how they are used in early childhood education sites throughout the world. We found Wendy inspirational and passionate and we were very excited about getting the opportunity to learn from her 'first hand', and to then bring her level of inspiration and passion back to our staff team. We really enjoyed getting to look at all of the examples that Wendy brought with her from the different sites and people she has worked with. It gave us new perspectives and ideas to reflect on. Throughout the action research project we were lucky enough to meet educators from different sites that were also involved in the project. By sharing presentations and examples we were able to get ideas of different environments, different ways of working and documenting and to see pictures and video footage of the learning happening at other sites. Another big highlight for us was being asked if our presentation could be used as an example in future training by both Wendy Lee and The Gowrie Training Centre. In our own centre educators are continuing to use room email accounts to exchange documentation between parents and educators, and part of each staff meeting continues to be dedicated to reflective thinking and discussion about documentation and what has inspired us. Undoubtedly, the biggest highlight for us has been the response of our families. Families' engagement with portfolios has seen them not only adding documentation to the portfolios and sharing information with us, but also involving their children and reaching out to involve extended family members. Where to from here? We believe that learning is a continuous, life-long process and we will always be looking for ways to improve and expand on what we do, how we document, and the sources of our inspiration. This project offered us, above all, a great opportunity to extend our learning. In the future we would like to network with other centres to see what their documentation processes look like. We're also interested in exploring how other centres foster and grow connections with their families and communities and how they get feedback from their parents and families. We will be sending out a survey to parents who have been a part of the journey over the past 18 months, to get some ideas about how parents feel about the process and if their sense of connection to us, and the service has grown. We would like to know what has changed from their perspective. Long term, perhaps in 2015 or 2016, we would like to gather together with the other participants in the Wendy Lee action research project group, to see how their projects have impacted on their practice and in their communities.
Reflections Issue 57 Summer 2014
Reflections Magazine Issue 55 Winter 2014