Engaging in Rich Learning Experiences as Kaiako
As kaiako at Bear Park, we value both planned and impromptu child-led learning experiences and the meaningful discussions that result. Important in creating these enriched learning experiences is teachers’ regular engagement with current research, which is discussed as a team. Collaborative discussions such as this extend kaiako's knowledge allowing them to become increasingly capable of recognizing children’s interests, which can lead to sustained and focused learning opportunities. Teachers also consider the environment and how this evokes; the confident and capable image of the child; current planned learning experiences available for children’s individual exploration throughout the day; and the nurturing of the individual needs of each child amongst a community of learners.
Integral to our learning experiences at Bear Park is the teachers own pedagogical content knowledge. We value the various skills and backgrounds of each of our kaiako whether this relates to culture, the arts, or other specialty disciplines such as sport or cooking. Quality collaborative professional development experiences promote the extension of these strengths and provide teachers with the necessary pedagogical skills to inspire children of each age and development, including infants, toddlers and young children. The sharing of content knowledge also elicits collaborative team discussions both within the individual Bear Park’s and also across Centres, which leads to deeply enriched learning possibilities for both teachers and tamariki alike.
As we engage in these discussions it becomes evident that our own role as teachers is ‘continually evolving’ and ‘complex in its own right’. We grow to understand and value the way we teach and care for the young child or infant acknowledging that this is largely based on our own experiences, cultures, knowledge and beliefs. With this, we place importance on strong collaboration between ourselves as teachers, our community and also the parents of each child which we have within our spaces.
As put simply by Rinaldi in Rabitti, 7995, p.4:
“The definition of the teachers’ professional identity is thus not seen in abstract terms, but in context, in relation to her colleagues, to the parents, and above all, to the children; but also in relation to her own identity and her personal and cultural background and experience.”
Each level of collaboration promotes a harmony between parents, teachers and the child. We believe this creates a rich environment when we share expertise and knowledge reciprocally between all parties. This collaborative approach integrates parents needs with research and evidence-based techniques resulting in both spontaneous and planned learning opportunities that challenge, nurture and empower the child.
By Caroline Lilley and Greta Bull-Crossan