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.