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Reflections Magazine : Reflections Issue 59 Winter 2015
Signposts can be envisioned as memories, thoughts, feelings and encounters or meetings with other adults and children. A signpost could also take the form of a place you have visited or a book read. These signposts are important to recognise because they tell us how we arrived at a particular point in our journey as an educator. Tracing one's journey and story can help to bring an awareness of how we see ourselves in our work with children. A practical way of tracing these journey points is to draw a picture of a map that represents our 'being' -- who we are as an early childhood educator. Steps in Mapping out a Journey What signposts can be seen on the map of our personal journey as an educator? 1. Remembering The first step is to draw on a mental image -- a memory. What is the memory that comes into your consciousness if someone were to ask: 'What made you first decide to work with young children? Was it a moment you shared with a child? Or a personal need or interest?' 2. Drawing With this memory in your mind's eye, take a large piece of paper (or a page in a journal) and draw marks, shapes, or patterns to represent these signposts. Then describe these signposts with words. These are the beginnings of a map that marks a specific journey - unique to the individual making it. 3. Listening Tuning into the voice of intuition is crucial to any reflective journey. When we allow time and space for reflection, our personal narrative becomes a place where we can discover and uncover aspects of our identity that surprise or even unbalance us, but that ultimately help us to critically examine who we are in what we do in our practice (Mellon, 2000). In the action of listening to another person, MacNaughton and Williams (1998) suggest that we move beyond merely hearing the other person to a place where listening becomes a tool to actively construct meaning from the multiple signals that the speaker is sending, both verbal and non verbal. Storytelling can be seen as an exchange for this form of meaning-making because through it we tune into another human being and form meaning about their story. When we tune into another person through active listening the content of our own narrative changes and deepens, thus enabling new meaning. Sharing in a process of reflection with another educator can help us to see outside the frame of our individual 'being' to co-construct new meaning and perspective about our practice. From this perspective the connections (highlighted on our map) that we have with others create important patterns and movements in our personal narrative. Using Story as a Tool for Practice Shields, Novak, Marshall, and Guiney Yallop (2011, p.63) discuss how life experience is fundamental to self-story because it works to connect the past and present to help us find "...the roots of our present-day perspectives and actions that we can incorporate into our everyday meaning-making..." . In this research, I explored my life experiences and through these wrote the beginning of my narrative. Then, through listening to the narrative of others, I was shown a powerful way to process and understand my practice as an early childhood educator. The intention of this paper has been to share my process of using story and to show how it can be a potential tool for critical reflection in early childhood practice. As a starting point for critical reflection, mapping our personal narrative can highlight particular patterns of practice. Mapping can help educators to trace the origin of their beliefs and so bring an awareness of how personal philosophy and one's sense of 'being' influences the practices we use when working with children and families. By tracing the origins of our identity we can understand who we are in our role as educator. When we share our story with another educator, new connections are formed which ultimately bring forth new possibilities for professional development in practice. References: Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. 2000, Research Methods in Education 5th Edition. London: Routledge Falmer. Council of Australian Governments. 2009, Belonging, Being and Becoming The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia. Canberra, ACT: Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. Council of Australian Governments. 2010, Educators Belonging, Being and Becoming. Canberra, ACT: Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. Horne-Kennedy, J. 2014, Speaking in Our Own Voice - The Stories of Rudolf Steiner Early Childhood educators in the Context of the Early Years Learning Framework. Thesis submitted for examination for Masters of Education (Honours), School of Education, University of New England, NSW, Australia. Long-Breipohl, R. 2012, Under the Stars. The Foundations of Steiner Waldorf Early Childhood Education. Stroud: Hawthorn Press MacNaughton, G., & Williams, G. 1998, Techniques for Teaching Young Children. Frenchs Forest, New South Wales, Australia: Addison Wesley Longman McMullen, M. B. 2010, Confronting the Baby Blues: A Social Constructivist Reflects on Time Spent in a Behaviorist Infant Classroom. Early Childhood Research and Practice (ECRP), vol. 12, no. 1. Mellon, N. 2000, Storytelling with Children. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Hawthorn. Perrow, S. 2008, Healing Stories for Challenging Behaviour. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Hawthorn. Shields, C., Novak, N., Marshall, B., & Guiney Yallop, J. J., 2011, Providing Visions of a Different Life: Self-study Narrative Inquiry as an Instrument for Seeing Ourselves in Previously-Unimagined Places. Narrative Works: Issues, Investigations, & Interventions, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 63-77. 13 REFLECTIONS • GOWRIE AUSTRALIA • WINTER 2015 - ISSUE 59
Reflections Issue 58 Autumn 2015
Reflections Issue 60 Spring 2015