As we think about innovative learning environments and future focused education, it is time to look beyond the confines of our own educational setting, eg our own classroom, schools, kura, centres and community. We can benefit more by looking across the sectors where we can, learn from the wider field of education and strengthen professional relationships.
We have lessons to learn from each other, ways that will help us pull the best aspects of education together. Through connection and collaboration we will understand more about the learners we work with; the conversations that we engage in can contribute to a seamless education for each of our learners.
An example of this is the exchange of ideas on topics such as maker movement, collaborative teaching, and project-based learning. In a quality early childhood setting, these are often embedded practice. Early childhood teachers collaboratively plan, develop curriculum, and teach together every day with each teacher’s practice being openly shared. They teach in flexible learning environments providing spaces for group work, thinking space, project space, and space for children to be able to create and make. The learning environment is seen as the ‘third teacher’, with considerable thought and planning by the teachers to ensure it is a dynamic learning place. It is this playful exploration, creating, tinkering, and making that forms a key part of the early childhood curriculum. Teaching and learning in this environment might look different to that in a school or kura, but the practices are just as pedagogically sound, designed to support young children’s active exploration and learning. As the school sector considers how the maker movement and collaborative teaching fits within the curriculum, it seems timely that we talk with each other, develop shared understanding, rhetoric, and grow our own practice.
I believe that engaging in conversations across the sectors will enhance our understanding of best practice, open us to new ideas, and help each of us to provide the best place for our learners. To be effective, this dialogue needs to be multi-directional with voices not only from early childhood, primary, and secondary, but also from their learners, whānau, and community. These conversations need to value what each brings to education. They require a willingness to listen to those outside our sector, and wisdom to know what aspects we can adapt, change, and facilitate for our own learning environment.
Connecting across our profession and learning from each other strengthens understandings of our learners, and supports us to maximise the opportunities that we provide for them. How might you help foster these conversations?
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