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Friday, August 19, 2011

The Educational Leadership Program (ELP)

Today i thought i would challenge myself to answer some thought provoking questions we have been given to think about for our current leadership program.

One question raised was;

How do we bring literacy to our infants and toddlers in our outdoor environment;

Well i think my brain works in metaphors so that is how i will start to answer that reflective question for me, because i have been thinking about it since i saw the poster yesterday.
I think off a puzzle, and how learning to do a puzzle takes time, like learning that the pieces need to stay together, it is the same with Literacy and the outdoor environment.
Literacy and the outdoor environment must always stay together, even in weathers harsh extremes, outside has to always be an option because it is full of many codes and changes and bits and pieces of literacy that need to have time to come together.
Infants and toddlers need time to collect the awareness of nature.

Also with a puzzle you need to learn to turn the pieces, it is the same with nature and Infants and Toddlers, they need time to learn to turn the stones over, they need time to learn and discover that snails leave a trail, that worms push through the soils.
Infants and Toddlers need a lot of time to see nature fold and unfold, and time to marvel in the same experiences over and over again.
I have been to many workshops but my biggest influence is always Reggio Emilia, where Pedagogists tell you that you must develop many new ways of looking at the same thing, because infants and toddlers have the skill to see many hues of colour, and adults and older children can lose that ability.

With a puzzle you have to put in the wrong piece and leave it there to slowly figure out it is wrong.

I believe it is the same for Infants and Toddlers with literacy in the outdoors, Adults need to refrain themselves from correcting, because to constantly correct is to assume that Infants and Toddlers will not work it out themselves.
What is needed is actually gentle influence and a lot more observation and for the adults to learn from children about when is the momment to scaffold.
I see so many student teachers put there hands out to steady a toddlers grasping the desire to walk across a plank.
What they do not realise is they have taken away a vital step in balance.
They have given them the answer, with out letting children question.

Why children wobble is a question, how you are standing is a question, where to position your body to stop the wobbles is a question, to take there hand and lead them to the other side is an answer and it is your answer.
Dont give children the answers without letting them question.

Toddlers need gentle persuation to go back to what they have, they are masters of balance from crawling, this is where they must start the challenge of balance and heights.
Remind infants and toddlers of what they already have.

Last of all with a puzle you need someone to inspire you to try it out.
It is the same with Infants and Toddlers and literacy outside our classroom walls.
We are here to provide intention in our teaching, and we all have our own areas of inspiration.
Personally mine is artistic expression, but luckily the outdoor environment is a natural sourse of artistic expression.
Infants and toddlers in NZ have the good fortune to be surrounded by creative elements, naturally changing organisms, metamorphos,changing properties, eco systems, sculptures, chemical changes and the list could go on.
But it is nothing without inspiration and a watchful eye, and someone to scaffold the connections that occur.

I am lucky enought to be spending this year as a student of the arts and i am learning to think in projects and ideas.
One of my teachers is Lyndal Jefferies and she has an amazing sculpture in the Hauraki Gulf.
Her inspiration is The self-organising complex systems by which Nature creates itself

She has a sculpure based around the idea of how sound creates patterns on water.
She has inspired me to notice more outside now, i would never have thought to look for that.

But children do, children notice more than we do.
I was reminded of this yesterday when i was at the beach with a group of children and they pointed out the sparkles on the water and told me how the sun makes them.

That is the literacy outside, the idea is there, children catch the ideas, where is your intention as a teacher to help them take it further, how will you inspire them to take that further.

Sometimes you may just have to shift your mind a little to really see.

Never dismiss what children see and take the time to acknowledge, it is packed with literacy.
At the very least everything has a element of sort and classify, code and decode, like and dislike.

So get outside everyone, and take those Infants and Toddlers with you.

1 comment:

  1. Kia Ora Kerri, wow this is an amazing work, so inspiring and very informative. Just want to add my view of literacy may look like in the never-ending exploratory world of infants/toddlers. Infants/toddlers is an area where my passion lies, have to say it was never somthing i thought i will be so passionate about but with lucky strike of my growing interests and strengths as a teacher, i found myself in the middle and can not be apart from it now.
    For me, i blelieved that many people think and look at literacy as a strong thread of teaching and learning about writing and reading but it seem that people forgot the importance of where or perhaps how literacies regardless of any form unfold for the first time. I believed that, exploring such as hands on experimentation is how it is all started. To understand something we must see it, touch it, smell it and do it. Verbal and oral language is important but you have to think how can an infant understand a language if it's not being expereinced. The must do part is important. We can talk about it but to really understand it we must do it, to confirm and confront our knowing. I believed this is where literacy and people need to understand where literacy starts from. We can support children verbally with many words but if they do not understand words how can we expect them to realise and make connection...thinking role model and appropriate scaffolding is the breaking key.
    Yes you're right, students are busy trying to position infants in ways they know is the correct ways but they fail to realsie that process of doing it is actually the vital part of learning. Adults must remember that infants/toddlers or children in general are just like us...remember the day we first touch or even seen a computer. I have to do it myself to really understand the computer the way i do now, it was scary, complicated, confusing but the more i play with the computer the more i know and the less scarier the equipment becomes in my world. I think a lot of people that come across infants/toddlers, think that they need sorrow but what they need or perhaps want is support to better their skills to master the tricky bits of challenges and uncertainty ahead.
    Perhaps adults think the way they do because, we failed to see children as competent learners and most importantly we look at children as little children and not as people just like us, powerful human beings just like us.