Tuesday, 10 December 2019 23:30

Continuous Reflective Dialogue - An insight into how we operate.

We are continuously reflecting on the the way we plan, program, intentionally teach, support and document children’s learning. We are proud of the way we prioritise reflective conversations and seeking perspectives in a collaborative manner, avoiding situations when pressure and isolation overwhelm primary educators. We decided years ago to reduce the stress load on our primary carers and created a more holistic approach to education by creating our cycle of continuous reflective dialogue (see graphic). 

Every three weeks room teams come together and share their knowledge and perspectives, this is part of the ‘GATHER INFORMATION’ stage. On our reflection agenda we focus on positive team and child moments, discuss any current challenges in the room and develop strategies to support children, staff and families through these challenges. We reflect on separations and toileting, sharing the patterns we have noticed and sharing child voice and family feedback in regards to this. We share our thoughts, progress and research in relation to room inquiries. We discuss all of our children in relation to the Early Years Learning Framework outcomes and our holistic approach collaborating with support services. We endeavour to discuss as many children as possible in each session, without compromise. 

During these child reflections we talk about the interests and strengths we have noticed in the child and any specific needs they may have, then we develop strategies to extend on or challenge their thinking, learning, physical development, language and social skills. We also identify ways to support their wellbeing and sense of belonging, their connection to our room, the environment and our community. There are a minimum of five educators in the room during this reflective dialogue session sharing their perspectives, and a representative from our leadership team too, further supporting critical reflection with their questioning. We relay conversations with parents about their child, and share our observations of the child, their voice in relation to their own learning, interests, routines, friendships etc.  This ensures that every member of the team knows your child, they know what they are interested in, what their strengths are and they are fully aware of the strategies in place to support and challenge your child’s learning through this cycle.

In 2019, as Educational Leader and a representative of our Education PLC I added two new sections to our agenda, ‘BeYou’ and ‘Environment Inquiry.' Stemming from our Wellbeing PLC we reflect on the wellbeing of educators, children and their family members. We have an educator trained in the BeYou framework in each team, to support conversations and reflect on behaviours, triggers and strategies to use moving forward. These conversations also enable us to work with our chef to create take home meals for some families. Stemming from our Environment PLC and 2019 whole centre experience with Anthony Semann, we had an environment inquiry section for teams to discuss the focus area of their room that they are were wanting to make more aesthetically pleasing and/or functional... this section transformed into a 'current inquiry' section as teams began focusing on their own new inquiries, having it less specific means we can also continue to discuss the ongoing environment inquiry too. We ‘QUESTION /ANALYSE’ everything in our team reflection sessions and this pattern of reflective behaviour continues each day in general conversations with staff, children and families.

Families know that a primary educator cannot be with their child 100 percent of the time, we have many children to touch base with and provide a secure base for, there are lunch breaks, documentation sessions, emergencies and with indoor and outdoor play accessible to children it is simply impossible for one educator to be constantly near every individual in their primary care/wellbeing group. This is the great part about an emergent strength based program and secondary caring, the children are so confident in their own ability and feel secure in their relationships and the environment that they are happy to wander off and explore the interesting spaces. After discussing children’s strengths, needs and individual strategies we ‘PLAN FOR INTENTIONAL TEACHING IN AN EMERGENT CURRICULUM’. Meaning we use our knowledge of child development, theories, philosophies, the Early Years Learning Framework, National Quality Standards, Keeping Safe: Child Protection Curriculum and Literacy/Numeracy Indicators, we then combine that with our reflections of child wellbeing, environments, individual interests and group interests to develop intentional teaching strategies in play, group times and routine moments. We also tweak our routine moments as children’s numeracy, literacy and comprehension continue to develop. All rooms record their planned intentional teaching strategies in relation to the interests in the room and the children these experiences could benefit most. Community connection opportunities and the ways in which we embed indigenous culture are also reflected upon and planned for.

Our Coral Room also sets a curriculum overview at the beginning of each term, either following a project from the term before or creating a new one. These overviews are very broad with some key goals determined that we would like the children to learn about (e.g. UN global goals) and any planned excursions/incursions that relate to this. While some learning targets are set, the direction towards that learning is determined by the children as we learn more about their prior knowledge and wonderings. At the end of each week educators reflect and adjust the direction of projects and experiences to reflect the ever changing interests of the children so we can continue to challenge their thinking, reinforce concepts and develop skills. The Coral Room also has an interest based emergent curriculum running alongside, children make different connections to projects and we want learning to be meaningful for each individual.

The 'emergent play plans' that our teams develop in their team reflections are emailed out to families and displayed on the walls in each room. Our Coral Room also email families their weekly intentional teaching plan for key routine moments and experiences that relate to the termly curriculum overview.

This is where we ‘ACT/IMPLEMENT’. We work with the children to create meaningful spaces. Our service is only ever as good as the relationships we build, which is why we focus on maintaining and role modelling respectful and responsive interactions with children, staff and families. We allow time for transitions to be smooth and individualised and we have daily discussions about the routine moments of the day and changes in child behaviour, so we can ensure predictability but also meet the needs of all the children. We are regularly attending professional development sessions in areas of interest and sharing that with the team so our pedagogical practices are continually reflected upon as we strive to provide the best education and care experience. Whilst engaging in intentional teaching we are continually observing and gathering information to use for documenting the current learning path of a child or to share in the next team reflection session about a child’s new interests/learning path.

Each primary educator will ‘EVALUATE/DOCUMENT’ their children’s learning during their individual programming time. To ensure accountability, all individual and/or group snapshots must refer to the Early Years Learning Framework, numeracy/literacy indicators, Child Protection Curriculum, floor book sharing/reflections and projects where applicable. Snapshots will show they stem from a child’s interest, sharing their voice or input. It is also important that all snapshots share the educator’s role, the strategies used to support your child’s learning. We make it clear to our educators that even if you simply observe, to watch the learning unfold is an educator choice made to support a child’s learning process. We also have a snapshot log to promote educator accountability, EYLF connections, numeracy/literacy connections, team work and the recording of child progress or support required in evaluations. We also read and record any family or child family feedback from day to day conversations and from individual learning portfolios. It is on this snapshot log that we can see an overview of each child’s learning, we can also use it to track educator documentation practices and we can add snapshots as secondary educators too.

OLLIE LAUDER - MICCC EDUCATIONAL LEADER

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