Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Day Book ~ My Style Explained V.1

I am titling this as "Day Book ~ My Style Explained V.1" because it's simply just that ... It's very general and I've written it using generic and nonsensical terms. I'm going to reflect more on this and either provide some different samples or some guiding questions. I have also done a few different things over the years, so I will create some mock-ups of those and post them in the near (or not so distant) future and title them V.2 and V.3 etc. If you notice, I have placed numbers in the sections. The numbers are used as reference points to explain my thinking behind those sections below the image.

1.   The Title ... You can say what you want here ... I used to say “Monday’s Story” or whatever day of the week it was ... You can have it focused on one aspect of your learning environment – you can use the terminology that you are familiar with for example I might have used “The Creative Child” (DOCS, 2005) and written about our experiences in collage or perhaps the buildings that were created in block area using stones, branches and pieces of fabric. The title can be simple, or it can be a headline designed to grab peoples’ attention!

2.   These are the =main= events ... it is not EVERYTHING that was engaged with on the day. This is just what was really important or where the most learning was observed by the educators ... It might not be the most important leaning that occurred – but you don’t have eyes and ears all over your head so you can’t see and hear everything that happens everywhere all day long.

3.    I don’t like being tied to a future idea ... or curriculum decision so I use “POSSIBLE future directions” ... Its just the ideas at the time of writing the day book entry ... overnight my ideas may change, indeed while driving to work the ideas may change – or the children may come up with their own ideas or in fact they may not want to move from the place of learning they were at yesterday. I think we get so carried away with: What are we going to plan next? When it is perfectly valid to just experience NOW! Notice that I used terms like: more, less, repeat, extend and then something new. Again, these are only ideas of where the possibilities might be. They are not set in stone!

4.   This is where I write about the main events in more detail. You can relate them to the EYLF (DEEWR, 2009) and the concepts held within the learning outcomes or any other aspect of the EYLF you’d like to refer to. You can paraphrase or you can quote directly. It’s up to you. There is no particular prescription about how this should look. What you do need to be talking about and reflecting up on is children’s learning – not so much the  specific outcomes, but the processes. I like writing this as a narrative because it means that its a story, its personal, its reflective, you are speaking to your audience and sharing your thoughts, but you are also able to refer to the past, present and future in your expression. And that is "linking" and making connections within your curriculum. Remember curriculum is:

"Curriculum encompasses all the interactions, experiences, routines and events, planned and unplanned, that occur in an environment designed to foster children’s learning and development" DEEWR, 2009 pp. 9).

5.   This is where there is a space for families to write a comment to the children or the service. They can share ideas or what they are thinking about what the children are doing. I would strongly encourage you to ask families to share their voice in the day book. I remember one mother’s comment about rainbows which to this day, touches me. She was one of the main parents to read the day book and be involved. Imagine how her child felt, knowing that her mother took such a strong interest in her school.

If you have any questions or comments, please post them here or email them to me! I'd love to hear from you: teachersink [at] gmail dot com


Sunday, April 22, 2012

You're Programming Wrong!

“You’re doing it wrong” is what they were told about their programming ...
So who is telling them that they are doing it wrong? Well, it wasn’t the previous manager who has 15+ years experience working in children’s services. It wasn’t the “validator” who assessed the service last year and found them to be a service delivering high quality care and education (who liked the system and methods).
It’s the new manager. This is her first job as a manager. She is also young and hasn’t had her degree for very long, nor has she got a great deal of experience in a variety of services. I think they were desperate to hire someone consistent. It certainly doesn’t look good when you can’t find staff for your service. Out of everything she could have done to improve the team, the service, support the transition to the NQS, she chooses to attack the programming and planning and declare that its “wrong”? Really? Is that the best way of managing? Um, no, it’s not. The methods that she has suggested were also bulky, cumbersome, time consuming, not presented professionally and is just going to encourage people to return to scribbling decorations on a blank page to fill the empty spaces because they can’t think of anything substantial to write. If educators can’t fill one page of a daybook with reflections, how are they going to fill double or triple the space? I know that she’s simply getting them to work the way that she is used to, but it’s not about her.
The programming that a service does should be created by the team for that particular service – what works for them? What physical resources do they have available to them? (slide shows on photo frames or computer screens? Printers? Computers? Photocopiers? Time to write?) What is their philosophy? How is that reflected in the interactions with children? How does all this relate to the EYLF? That programming that a service does should not come from ONE person whoever that person is!
What’s wrong with this line: “You’re doing it wrong?”  ... That’s not great management. It’s insensitive and passing judgement upon others. Even if they were doing it wrong, you don’t put it to them like that! You work WITH them as a team and brainstorm ideas – that’s reflection. That ‘reflection’ sits within the EYLF and is what we are required to do. But to tell someone that they are doing it wrong? That’s wrong.
One of my previous interview questions related to this ... and my answer was – I tend to be quite reflective and have lots of ideas. I’m however not going to walk into a new space and start changing things just because I have a new idea. I don’t know what happened before in this space – I don’t know the history of the room or program. I need to work with the team and the children and in consultation make changes. Yes, there are changes that MUST be made at times, but there are also changes that can occur over time. So, yes, you get what you want as a professional, but you do it in a way that everyone comes on board with you, and together you create change. In the meantime, I’ll just write my ideas down and wait for a good time!
You certainly don’t tell people they’re doing it wrong. People will be invested in their way of “doing it” and if you tell them it’s wrong – well you are going to put noses out of joint and upset people. Not a smart move.
I'd also like to add, that from what I've seen on  visits to quality services, at previous work places, and on the internet about how different people are programming - there are so many different ways it can be done, and as long as you can show an understanding of what your system is, and it meets the requirements - then you are doing it right. You are doing it right for you!

End of rant.

Stepping off soap box.

Friday, April 20, 2012

~*~ Indoor Gardens ~*~

Gardening ... I love gardening. I love nature and plants and animals. I set up a terrarium with my preschool group earlier this year. We used an old plastic aquarium. The kids really got into it! Unfortunately it didnt have an air-tight lid which meant it needed to be sprayed alot - and since I took some leave - everyone forgot and many of the plants died.

We also experimented growing wheat seeds in jars which was very successful. You could see the wheat grass, but you could also see the roots in the soil. I found that idea on the internet. The children then took it in a different direction and I remember Miss K suggested that we plant them in the garden ... we did, and they grew. Master X suggested that we grow them in water ... we did, and they didn’t grow. But it was a lesson learned.
I learned a lot and it didn’t cost much. It took time. It took thought. It took planning. It took minimal resources. It’s about being resource*FULL.
Acutally I think back to one of my managers - she wanted the lunch tables to look pretty ... with the three to four serving bowls that the current cook was giving us at each table it wasnt possible with the space we had on the tables and I didnt see the point of putting something on the table that would only get removed right away ... but I was just thinking - jars with plants in them would have been the perfect alternative to the vases with flowers that were suggested. Whether as jars of wheat grass or spider plants or ferns ... I'll keep this in mind for my next employment committment (if I make one!).
Here are some photos of the terrariums I made for myself at home ... They are pretty simple ... just google image "terrarium" and you will get so many awesome ideas! I found a great deal of inspiration for this through google ... I =heart= google.

Here is my assistant ... responsible for quality control and being generally curious about everything.

I used spider plants because they were accessible (i.e. in my garden) and they were small and affordable! I figured if the plants didnt make it, then I could replace them easily enough without disturbing the substrates.

So yeah ... it was pretty straight forward and easy ... I havent added little special things yet like painted stones or trinkets or little figureines ... I thought I would save that for the larger one I will do ... I found some jars at The Reject Shop for $5 with lids - including a funky cookie jar which was rippled ... not sure if it was the best option for a terrarium because the plants would be all distorted ... I ended up buying little mini tea sets  and a bird tote instead! But there are options out there that are super affordable! All the gardening materials I purchased at Bunnings. My assistant was found 12 months ago as a 12 week old kitten on the street at midnight by a neighbour. I'd be lost without him.

If you dont have a space in which you can garden - I know that some services don't have access to gardens - this is a way for you to do something on a small scale inside. And because they are enclosed, they are relatively easy to maintain - i.e. they don't dry out quickly.

If the plants do die, or fail to thrive, this is the time to have those conversations with the children about why that might be happening! Then you are really tackling hypothesizing and problem solving and really engaging with the natural materials!
Now in regards to the EYLF ...

"Outcome 2: Children are connected with and contribute to their world: Children become socially responsible and show respect for the environment:
= explore, infer, predict and hypothesise in order to develop an increased understanding of the interdependence between land, people, plants and animals
= show growing appreciation and care for natural and constructed environment
= explore relationships with other living and non-living things and observe, notice and respond to change
= develop an awareness of the impact on human activity on environments and the interdependence of living things."
Educators can promote this through:
·        " provide children with access to a range of natural materials in their environment
·         model respect, care and appreciation for the natural environment
·         find ways of enabling children to care for and learn from the land"
EYLF, 2009 pp. 29