Greetings... I have been quiet for a while as I've been engaged in a few other projects as well as starting up a small business. The small business alone has pretty much take up a year of my life. Plus I work full-time as an advisor and have home-life-responsibilities.
I clearly need to work on my time management strategies! But that's not really a new discovery.
I have two ideas I'd like to explore within the pages of my blog. The first is Intentional Teaching and the second is Reflective Practice. I've been wanting to work on these for quite a while actually - but ya know - TIME. Where does it go, and how does one find more?
I've written my two ideas on a post-it note and I have a page of time management strategy plan thingy-ma-bobs.
I shall write again.
- G @ Teacher's Ink.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Sunday, March 9, 2014
I'm sure there were more, but those are the ones that come to mind.
That was 1996. Waaaay back when.
Now, there are training organizations, the now defunct DEEWR with their 'Educators Guide' and the self-proclaimed consultants who are passing the old formats of observations off as if they are something new, and adding:
Morning meeting minutes
Afternoon meeting minutes
Analysis of learning
Do you not wonder why you are being told to spread yourself too thin? And who are these experts? Have they been through Assessment and Rating themselves? Have they even managed a centre consistently under the new National Quality Standards? What are their early childhood qualifications? Are they certified? Or are they just out to make a quick buck out of your insecurity and fear? If they were really out to help you, they wouldn't charge you exorbitantly for their time and supposed expertise.
I am a consultant. That's my nine to five. But I resent using the word because of those who are laying claim to it. Abusing it. Abusing you.
No one, NO ONE can get you exceeding. EVER. Apart from the fact that I have little faith in the A&R system as it is, I certainly think that if a centre gets Exceeding then it's their own doing. They did the work, not the books that they read, the websites they joined or the consultants they consulted with. The centre earned it. Not the hired help.
Are you even comfortable with someone claiming to take credit for your hard work? Is that fair? Is it ethical for someone to take your success, pass it off as their own, and then use your success to advertise themselves to make more money from other educators and service providers?
Just because someone delivers something in a way that you connect with. Just because they are charismatic and friendly, doesn't mean that they are speaking the truth and giving you sound information or advice.
My advice to you: Stick with a few styles of documentation and do them well. You only need a few. Don't fall for the "children's magical voices" bullshit. Writing anything down is worthless without some serious reflection behind it. And children are not magical beings. They are people. If you called me magical I'd smack you across the head for demeaning me and tell you it was just fairy dust. Don't. Call. Me. Magical. It's degrading. I'm a person who deserves respect.
Don't fall for empty promises and spread yourself too thin. That is not the path to a "Meeting" rating much less an "Exceeding" one.
Reflection is deeper than asking the children what they liked or didn't like about their day. Reflection is not about what you liked or what 'went' well or how lovely it was in the sandpit with all the children playing so nicely or what the children said.
I've given you plenty of professional reflection on my blog - go read it.
So what sorts of documentation would I use?
The Teacher's Ink Approved Documentation Methods: < tongue in cheek in case ya didn't know.
And then I'd tie it all in together with my reflections of my knowledge of the child and what I would like to see the child working on in the near future.
I personally am not a fan of (New Zealand) Learning Stories - I think they're great for NZ and I think they're fabulous for centres that are above ratio and provide their educators with a) a computer and b) extensive time to document. Otherwise who has time to do them? I didn't.
I've never particularly liked them. And most people don't do them properly anyway. I doubt that many people know they come from NZ in the first place. You don't need to do them. They're not required. No matter what anyone says. There is NOTHING in the NQS or EYLF that says you need to use them.
So in regards to children's portfolios, I would have five main documentation formats. Five. That's it. FIVE. Not 10, not 20 or 30 or 86 different ways to document (yeah you think I'm joking? I've heard this one).
Pick five, and do them well. Especially the jottings - do lots of them! They're more meaningful that a whole long drawn out story.
In regards to hiring consultants, Google them, do some research! Just because they're nice and charismatic doesn't mean they're qualified.
Remember that: Charismatic is NOT the same as Qualified.
And a pretty portfolio is NOT an assessment of learning nor is it your curriculum documentation.
Portfolios are not even required, yet many of us do them. But that's another story.
I think perhaps the moral of this story is that you shouldn't spread yourself too think. You're not Vegemite.
Work smarter, not harder. I know. That's what they say. They all say it. But they're full of shit. Because they tell you to do it 10 or 20 or 30 or 86 different ways.
© Teacher’s Ink. 2014 All Rights Reserved
Friday, March 7, 2014
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”
I've been thinking about myself. About who I am and what that means: Reflection and all that jazz. So last night I wrote a bit of a self-reflection introduction ... and today I find myself thinking more and more about Identity as I wrote documents for work ...
How do I define myself?
I am defined by the words from my lips rather than the colour of my lipstick, or lack thereof. I am defined by how I choose to treat others and how I let others treat me. I am defined by my kindness and the intentions in my heart. I am defined by the good and the not-so-good (and maybe the outright bad) that I choose to do. I am not defined by the shoes I wear, but the steps that I take on the many paths that I travel in my lifetime. I am not defined by the lines of my palms nor the cards pulled from a deck. Nor am I defined by the wrinkles on my face.
I am a complex creature. You cannot define me.
You cannot document the goings-on behind my eyes or within my heart.
So why are we trying to define and label and compartmentalise children as learning outcomes?
We will never know them. We should simply support them, in learning to be themselves.
© Teacher’s Ink. 2014 All Rights Reserved
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Who am I?
I’m a 4 year educated teacher who proudly holds a Bachelor of Education. I also have a Diploma in Child Care and Education and I am studying the Certificate IV in Assessment and Training. I’m currently employed as an early childhood advisor or consultant or whatever you want to call it. My job is about supporting educators in regards to understanding curriculum planning and reflective practice. I don’t know everything, but I know a fair amount.
I believe that the National Quality Standards - Assessment and Rating process is, as it is, flawed. I have little to no faith in it. I do however believe that the Standards and the Early Years Learning Framework are worthwhile and leading us down a path of quality improvement. It’s the inequities in the process of assessment that I have issues with.
I am going vegan. It’s a decision I made last week after umming and aaahing about it for months. I figure I would just jump and commit. I’m already a vegetarian ... might as well go all the way and walk the talk ... practice what I’m preaching and all that jazz.
I’m a strong believer in protecting our natural environments. I love trees and forests and deserts and mountains and valleys and rivers and oceans and beaches and nature. I love my garden and I am amazed by it. I pick birds up from road when they are terrified or injured. I find stray dogs like no one’s business. I am also involved in animal rights and small self-funded home based domestic animal rescues local to where I live. I HATE pet stores that sell puppies and kittens sourced from puppy mills and backyard breeders. I struggle with breeders – even the registered ones – when we have in our pounds hundreds of thousands of dogs and cats, puppies and kittens, rabbits and guinea pigs and so on and so forth killed each year. Unnecessarily.
I live in a home filled with eclectic furnishings from antiques to retro to designer to repurposed to opportunity shop finds, even from footpaths and council cleanups. I am house proud. I love my nest.
I hate racism and prejudice. I hate bullies. I have a not tolerance policy for physical, verbal or psychological abuse of anyone: adult or child. It’s not cool. I hate people exercising power over others. I hate bigotry.
I listen to all sorts of music. I’m a triple J fan and I have a particular fondness for Heavy Metal, Blues and Roots, Aussie Hip-hop ... I also love Latino Jazz, Classical and so on and so forth. I love art, architecture, design. I love writing and photography. I love expressing who I am. The older I get the less I care.
And, as a person,
I have politics. I swear from time to time. I own and manage and control the content of this page and you are welcome to be here with me. Or if you feel that my opinions and offerings don’t sit with you and your philosophy of education and/or life, you may unsubscribe. The choice is yours. I support your decision whatever it may be. Teacher’s Ink. is my project. I’m not paid for it. I do not at this point derive any income from it. I do it because I like supporting educators beyond the scope of my paid employment and I like having an unrestricted space in which to voice my opinion. The key here is, my opinion.
Monday, February 10, 2014
“Childhood is a time to be, to seek and make meaning of the world. Being recognises the significance of the here and now in children’s lives. It is about the present and them knowing themselves, building and maintaining relationships with others, engaging with life’s joys and complexities, and meeting challenges in everyday life. The early childhood years are not solely preparation for the future but also about the present.”
Belonging, Being & Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework
(DEEWR, 2009 p. 7)
I have noticed a great many discussions over the past 12 months or so around multiple highly commercialised programs for teaching children literacy through ‘cute’ characters and catchy songs. I have also seen a great deal of confusion around what ‘Intentional Teaching’ means. I can quite easily reflect on both literacy and intentional teaching. But here I’m not going down that path today. Today I am reflecting on being and what it means for me as an early childhood teacher and what I think it means for children.
I try to think about times when I have been me, and I’ve been given direction or criticism or even guidance into a new direction that I knew I wasn’t prepared for. Do you know how I feel about that? I feel like I’m not good enough. I’m not good enough as I am at this time in this space. What my I hear is “NOT GOOD ENOUGH”. Now, whether that is the truth or not, it doesn’t matter. That horrible judging statement chips away at me.
Here’s a prime example. I was going to TAFE College in the 1990s part-time at night while working part-time as a live in nanny. I was doing quite well. I was getting As and Bs and I was happy. I enjoyed it. My father thought that since I was doing so well, that I should apply for university. I was happy with TAFE, but he was adamant that I should apply for Uni. I would leave my job, I would move back home and I would be supported in conjunction with whatever part-time work I did. Good deal yeah?
So I withdrew from TAFE and I went to Uni. I struggled. It was so technically different to TAFE and I struggled. My self esteem plummeted. It just spiralled lower and lower. I was miserable. I put everything I had into the subjects I felt I could do, and I passed. I went from excelling to passing in a short period. I failed the other half of my subjects because they were so far beyond what I was ready to deal with at the time, and I didn’t know enough to withdraw. I felt like I had not only let myself down, but also my family. I was low. I was defeated. I was shattered. I went into a very dark place, where I was telling myself that I was not good enough. This was the beginning of the dark times.
I was pushed. I let myself be pushed. I wasn’t strong enough in my being to say no. I wasn’t ready.
If I were left to be a TAFE student at a level where I was doing very well, who would I be today? It sure would have saved me a great deal of heart ache and turmoil. That decision to listen to someone pushing me beyond what was good for me, led me down a very dark path which lasted 3 painful years.
I want to say: “it doesn’t matter, because it has made me who I am today” but I look back at 19-year-old me, and my heart breaks for the hurt and pain and that 19-year-old me went through. It impacted upon my sense of belonging, I ended up interstate, essentially homeless and almost completely alone.
I eventually landed on my feet. I went back to TAFE and I completed my Diploma in EC. But it could easily have gone a very different way. I did even end up going to University. On my own terms, and when I was ready for that commitment.
I am who I am and I am travelling my own path. I also know now never to let myself be pushed. I now choose who pushes me, and how hard.
So, what does this have to do with children and their sense of being?
Imagine being a very capable three year old. And then imagine being re-directed and instructed into a different place. Imagine the message that you are giving that young person: You are not good enough at three. You can’t do what you enjoy freely. You need to be doing these things. You need to be here at four. The same at four, you are not good enough at four, you need to be five. And so on and so forth.
Imagine your interests – the things you love doing and playing, being used against you. The things you loved doing for the sake of doing, for the pure love of being you, turned into something else conveniently labelled as “Intentional Teaching” to meet some sort of predetermined adult decided outcome that you at three or four or five really aren’t interested in much less ready for.
I don’t think we are preparing them for anything but failure and heartbreak and fragile self-esteems that might seriously put them in harms way in the future.
Why have we lost “being”?
Why can’t we let them be. Let them be who they are. It’s not our job to push them, to prod them into another state of being. It’s not our right.
I think that it is so critical to be who you are and be supported in being YOU.
I think we need to embrace “being” ... I think we need to let children learn who they are and be proud of themselves. I think we need to support them in driving their own knowing and learnings. I think we need to support them in connecting with each other and I think we need to focus on empathy.
Children are confident and involved learners who “follow and extend their own interests.” (DEEWR 2009 p. 34). Why do they ‘need’ us pushing them? Especially when the learning framework tells us children have a right to be, but they also have the right to drive their own learning.
These are my thoughts on “being” and what it means to me as a human-being and what I think it means for the children in my life.
© Teacher’s Ink. 2014 All Rights Reserved.
Friday, January 10, 2014
I was sitting in the little corner oasis in my garden. I am especially fond of this spot as I made it myself. I didn’t use a landscaper, I had a vision, I had a loose plan, and I made it happen. The plants are shade loving semi-tropical and hardy and I’ve created a tiny micro climate of sorts. It’s my space where I often just go and sit and ‘be’. I think it’s important to have a place where you can ‘be’ and nothing else.
(view looking up)
(view looking out - can see you find bubba bird?)
Birds come to my garden because I provide them with large bushy shrubs and multiple water supplies. I have a large bird bath, a pond in a pot in my corner oasis, and I have a small water tray and a larger pond. Water is so important for life.
So, as I sat and was busy ‘being’ I was watching a family of butcher birds. Normally they are quite shy retired birds, but the family in my garden are quite confident. Very different to the ones at my parent’s place about 35kms away ... These birds also have to deal with my dog who doesn’t like birds in our garden much ... He tends to bark carry on and chase them away. As a result I don’t get any ground grazing crested pigeons. I get noisy miners, butcher birds, and magpies mainly. They all bring their offspring to my garden where they have to learn to be quick and resourceful.
I was watching the baby practising life. She was sitting in a hanging basket which had a Hoya and some large leaves from the tree above in it. She was picking up leaves and turning them and moving them around and snuggling in and rearranging and she did this for a good 15-20 minutes. Her father (darker almost black and white) was in the tree above her. He was singing. Her mother (grey and white like she) was on the ground.
(bubba bird having a drink)
(pappa bird looking for bugs)
I was just mesmerised by what this little bird was doing ... she was being a child ... she was learning about life doing what it is she was inclined to do ... it was practising and it was learning but it was living life more than anything else. There was no one in her face taking her picture or asking her what she was doing. She was just being a young bird exploring leaves and what she could do with them. She was connected to her world, she was developing important skills which I assume would help her in her nest building endeavours when she grows. She was also learning how to use her beak to manipulate tools. She was chattering away which I took to be self-talk. She could have been talking to her parents. She was engaging in life and learning and all the outcomes that we attribute to children in our work were there, happening in front of me with a little bird.
The mother also fascinated me. She was pecking at a spent flower head which was on the ground. I imagine insects were inside and she was eating them. She pecked and pecked. It’s a rather large flower head which is in a cone shape and it is a tall plant called a Justicia.
(momma bird after the flower head had finally dropped)
What she did next really amazed me. She picked up the flower head and put it in the fork of the flower stems where it had come from. Once it was wedged she back pulling it apart. It would then fall to the ground again. She did this a few more times. Then she picked it up and flew up to the callistemon tree under which I was sitting. There she wedged it again, higher up, and in thicker branches an she continued to pick it apart, eating what she found there, bits of flower dropping below.
There is genius to be seen in nature. So there I sat, connecting with nature and the world around me, watching these little creatures learn about life, or living life, not merely surviving, but thriving in my little modest garden.
Why can’t we have this same peace and harmony at work? I think maybe this is a possibility, we just have to create it, and fight for it.
© Teacher’s Ink. 2014 All Rights Reserved.
Friday, December 13, 2013
The EYLF and NQS programming industry brings me to tears ... tears of frustration. Firstly there is a product money driven industry that has sprung up around the roll out of the NQF. And not everything for sale is accurate or of a high quality.
I don't think programming, planning and documenting should be easy. I don't think it should be impossible either. I think it should be the right amount of challenge and reward. I think it should fit within the paid scope of your employment (i.e. you do your written work AT work), and I think that it should improve you as a professional and I think it should serve a purpose for the children and their families.
In my role as an over-arching educational leader/mentor I work with programming and planning all day long. It sloshes around in my brain at the best of times. Sometimes it feels like its oozing out my ears. It's what I do. It's my main focus. I work with multiple different styles of programs and plans and not just one. I am essentially a critical friend who provides guidance and feedback for a number of services. Adult learning results from sustained shared conversations. I can't emphasize this enough.
If you don't understand Quality Area 1, don't beat yourself up. Its twisty and convoluted and I don't particularly like it. In fact the whole NQS is so interwoven it is impossible to unravel. Even for me. ANYONE promising you that they have unraveled it is full of the proverbial because it is an impossibility.
I'm looking online today at stuff. And all I can find is crap. Crap that dumbfounds me and makes me want to cry in frustration. I just don't get it. It's wrong. So WRONG.
Crap that is for wrong and for sale. Crap that is for free. Crap that is about boosting an ego. Crap.
Crap that has pretty colours, or visual themes, or circles instead of squares because squares are boxes and boxes are bad. Or trees. What the hell is it with trees? Who started this tree thing? What does a tree have to do with anything other than being a visual metaphor for something or other?
If someone tells you there is no wrong way to do the NQS or the EYLF I think they're wrong. If there was no wrong way, then centres wouldn't be getting "Significant Improvement Required" or "Working Towards."
I think that there are many more right ways than wrong ways, but there is clearly a wrong.
Please. Please. PLEASE think about what you buy. Just because its pretty doesn't mean its good. Just because its expensive and promises the world, doesn't mean it delivers.
If you get exceeding at your service it is because YOU did the work and YOU earned it. No one else. Not even me :)
I think I need to write something and self-publish it. It won't be free - but it will be backed up with evidence and it will be reasonable. And its probably going to take me forever to put it together ... But I just can't sit here and look at crap and not throw my hat into the ring.