November 8, 2021
Time to refill, reboot and reenergise.
Last week saw us share our first Residential Training around Pedagogy. My original thought was a cruise. Cocktails, warm sun, seminar rooms, fine dining, then, I woke up!
I deliver around 100 training sessions a year and so do many of my peers. I am lucky enough to share an enormous amount of quality interactions about pedagogy. They challenge me, they stretch my thinking and they allow me to modify, adapt and change my content and delivery in response to the reading, research and thinking not just of me but from those in the know.
Added to this, at the end of nearly every session I deliver, the evaluations say, ‘could have listened to more’, ‘wish my whole team could have been here’ or ‘wish there had been more time’.
So we found an even better venue than a cruise, I gathered my disrupters and thinkers and together we created a programme.
Here are a few of the reflections from our professional development experience.
We gathered on a Monday evening, wine or gin in hand ready to begin our adventure. June O and I invited the 13 delegates into our two hour conversation around ‘leading a child to learning’.
We imagined the next four days as they would be shaped not around curriculum content or benchmarks and outcomes but around the child. The child and their play. We laid the path to us. The biggest resource a child has access to, US.
Our sessions were short bursts of thinking, research, pedagogical dialogue and many hours of contemplation and listening.
‘When we talk we are sharing what we already know. When we listen we may learn something new.’ Dali lama
We gathered around one huge table for food, every few hours and of course the most important conversations really started then. As we mulled the content over, reflected and responded to it. We agreed with lots and disagreed too. We debated and pushed our thinking around ideas we had heard of, some we had not.
As with our children, environments matter. And our spaces and places were glorious. Surrounded by beauty, tranquillity and the buzz of the professional and social conversations. And of course our own, private space to retreat to and ponder.
Over the next few weeks I will share some of the thoughts we debated, some of the theory and thinking we argued around. Here are a few of the first reflections, perhaps they will encourage you to ponder to.
“It opened my eyes and changed my way of thinking. I bloody loved all the presenters. I am so grateful for all the wonderful people I spent time sharing ideas with. Life changing, career changing. Learned so much, only hope I have time to digest and put into practice.” CK
“Every session very relevant, good length, ‘relaxedness’! A nurturing experience, feeling inspired and challenged. A huge amount to process. Not just professionally but personally too.” EF
“Provided depth to my knowledge and given me confidence to share this with staff. Great strategies to lead on developing pedagogy.” CW
“Realisation that our settings need to consider the elements of art. It was fantastic, that even towards the end of my career, I am still discovering aspects of play I didn’t know anything about.” JL
Everyone left with a data key, full to bursting with all the presentations, research, learning prompts used to roll it out with their staff. But it was the shared, lived conversations and time that left the impact.
I was so delighted that each time I chatted with one of the delegates I was still learning, thinking about impact and tweaking my ideas. It warmed my heart that each delegate will go away and share with other professionals. Cascading experiences.
All of the delegates at one point or another mentioned how they felt invested in. Professional development for the soul!
May 26, 2021
Our challenge today is figuring out ways to ignite and flame the spirit of inquiry in children.
Our children are ‘switched on’, engaging in very different ways than they have done previously. When they are engaged in play we hope that they do more than just memorise facts and reiterate the thoughts and findings of the adults they are engaging with.
Our hope should be to take their natural curiosity and let them fly with it. Play is often shaped by adults who feel like they should be ‘in charge’, ‘in control’. We need to be brave, to step back and let the children wonder.
This little peg gathering. Just place something out in a little nook somewhere in the playroom. Don’t draw attention to it, don’t suggest the children notice it. Just leave it and sit back and notice the children actions, emotions and words in response to your provocation.
Curiosity drives learning. A curious child will ask questions, come up with their own solutions and seek to test the results to find out if their idea is the right one. Curiosity, awe and wonder engages our children in thinking creatively.
When our children are involved in creative thinking they are developing transferable cognitive skills.
Through invitations to play we are offering the possibility to develop our children’s knowledge and understanding of how the world works, how they can positively manipulate their world through exploration and investigation.
As our children play in provocative and interesting environments they begin to analyse, they question why, how, what…
A few days later place out a different group of creatures. Let the children spirit of enquiry kick in.
As children investigate and make discoveries during their play they begin to apply the skills they develop in a wide variety of ways, if encouraged. We should consider environments that support and enable the application of the skills and knowledge each child is developing. Not over planned but spaces created with possibilities!