I have worked in and around the field of teacher professional development for many years now. What holds me there is not so much the positive feedback and enthusiasm I often sense at the end of a session (although that is nice too), but the little stories of what happens next. I say ‘little’ because I think the tellers of these stories often underestimate how significant and rewarding they are for me to hear.
A very significant ‘little’ story of applying the Ten Trends
The Supervisor and Curriculum Leader of an early childhood service I have worked with over several years (Liz) shared with me one such story just recently. Liz had received the CORE newsletter with the 2015 Ten Trends. Instead of by-passing the newsletter as she had done in the past thinking it was for schools and teachers more techie than herself, she watched the first video. She found herself ‘being both refreshed and challenged and am now thrilled to be able to confidently say, I am beginning to understand my role in this area’ (digital technologies).
In fact, what she went on to say had little to do with digital technologies and far more to do with her pedagogy. The messages that had caught her attention were, the need for teachers to:
- think about whose interest is being served;
- think about how to ensure the needs of the learner are met; and
- re-imagine their role.
Liz applied these ideas to something very specific and contained within their programme: e-portfolios.
E-portfolios were introduced as a means of documenting assessment 18 months prior and had been received enthusiastically by teachers and families alike. ‘We just love the increased input we get from parents’, was the motto I often heard when visiting Liz’s early childhood centre.
However, the Ten Trends had caused Liz to think about just whose interests were being served by their e-portfolios. She found that, unlike the paper version, most children rarely got to revisit their digital learning stories and assessments while at the centre. This was because, despite being a centre characterised by high-quality interactions and practices, when teachers brought technology into the children’s area it tended to look like this:
Liz, who, in the past, has grappled with the inclusion of digital technologies in her early childhood context, told me how the idea of re-imagining her role suddenly made sense in this context. Instead of being, as she described it, ‘the knowledge holder and device protector’, she saw that she needed to become the orchestrator of children’s access and agency for their e-portfolios.
The result is that the children Liz teaches now have more opportunities to develop their adaptive expertise as they make meaning of their experiences across different modes and texts.
Here is an example of Shaun (two years, ten months). He is revisiting a music session that he participated in that is documented by photos and video. When he has access to his e-portfolio on the iPad, notice how he finds himself and others in the video, and then appears to be making links between the digital text and the photos in his paper-based portfolio. This would not have been possible without Liz taking up the challenges she found in the 10 Trends.
Returning to where I started with this blog post, there are some very big reasons why this little story is worth sharing.
- Liz is curious. While she leads a centre where children’s interests are valued and drive learning opportunities, she chose not to dismiss a school-based example and accompanying message about personalisation of learning with ‘we are doing that already’
- Liz is strategic. Had Liz applied the question of whose interests are being served to the centre more generally, she would have had ample justification for a ‘we are doing that already’ response. I think the fact that she honed in on a specific area helped her to make good use of the messages in the 10 Trends to interrogate practice.
- Liz values professional learning. Perhaps the finest thing about this story is that, while I am contracted as a facilitator and mentor for this centre in 2015, I didn’t suggest she delve into the Ten Trends; she found and applied them herself.
Which leaves just one question unanswered. Why, therefore, do I find her story so rewarding for me professionally? It is quite simple really. She is a teacher who acts on professional learning for the benefit of children and families.
Latest posts by Ann Hatherly (see all)
- On the path to literacy through a pair of shoes and smelly socks - September 2, 2016
- ‘It’s what our parents want’ — Really? - August 20, 2015
- Early childhood education, 10 Trends, and a not-so-little story of action - May 19, 2015