Back and Forth

By Amanda Gillmore

Audio recording of ‘Back and Forth’ by Amanda Gillmore

The outdoor circle was recently built using paving stones. On top of these stones are 11 seats that are made out of cement blocks that have caps on them. I was sitting on one of the seats and began pushing the snow, back and forth, between my boots. There is one child sitting across from me. There is no conversation between us, but he observes me moving the snow, back and forth. We notice that this action results with some of the stones peeking through the snow. This child gets up, walks across the circle and sits beside me on one of the other seats. I make eye contact with the child as I continue slowly moving the snow, back and forth, between my boots. 

Child: “We need to cover it.”
Amanda: “Why do we need to cover it?”
Child: “So nobody finds it!”
Amanda: ” Finds what?”
Child: “The treasure, Amanda!”

As it states in the BC Early Learning Framework (Government of BC, 2019), “Children can engage with their own ideas, theories, and inquires in ways that are meaningful to them” (p. 68). With this recent snowfall, the snow created an additional material in this child’s outdoor learning environment. This additional material gave this child an opportunity to engage, to be curious, to create wonder and to imagine- and all of these opportunities were created because of just one additional layer, a hidden layer, to what was once familiar to this child.

Government of British Columbia. (2019). British Columbia early learning framework (2nd ed.). Victoria: Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Children and Family Development, & British Columbia Early Learning AdvisorGroup.

Reimagining Early Childhood Spaces

By Vania Zanetti

In the book Alternative Narratives in Early Childhood: An introduction for Students and Practitioners, Moss (2019) speaks to the idea that the vocabulary we use in early childhood spaces shapes early years practices and experiences. Moss suggests that the dominant language of the early years narrative is “instrumental, calculative and economistic, technical and managerial, dull and lifeless” (p. 81). This makes me thoughtful about theoretical influences that inform the choices that educators make and ultimately shape what is imagined for early childhood spaces. 

With the image above I am intrigued to think about the language used to create environments for children. I imagine conversations about safety and regulations that stripped aged trees of lower branches to keep children from scaling higher than they “should”.  I wonder, ‘How often, and why, are toys and equipment chosen in early childhood settings because they include words such as safety, quality, durability, and development?

As an alternative to the dominant narrative Moss offers the language used in Reggio Emilia. The language is almost dream-like with a narrative that uses words like exploration, possibility, imagination, and becoming. It makes me wonder about the multiple ways spaces can provoke exploration, project making, and pathways for growth and development. I’m curious about connections to the Early Learning Framework (Government of BC, 2019, p. 77) and welcome the invitation to engage with the critically reflective question, “What opportunities do children have to access materials that can be transformed or investigated?”

I wonder how we can nurture alternative dialogues about children’s spaces. How might these dialogues be informed by the first principle listed in the Early Learning Framework (Government of BC, 2019), “Children are strong, capable in their uniqueness, and full of potential” (p. 15)? What kinds of worlds might become possible? 


Government of British Columbia. (2019). British Columbia early learning framework (2nd ed.). Victoria: Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Children and Family Development, & British Columbia Early Learning Advisory Group. 

Moss, P. (2019). Reggio Emilia: A story of democracy, experimentation, and potentiality. In Alternative narratives in early childhood: An introduction for students and practitioners (pp. 81). New York, NY: Routledge.

Collaborative Dialogue: A Series of Community Events

By Students in Practicum II, Ocean Kneeland, and Antje Bitterberg

Creating the event: 
The public event ‘Collaborative Dialogue – Learning together and building relationships: A professional development opportunity for early childhood education students, mentors, and curious educators’ is a series of three events imagined and created in collaboration between the VIU ECEC Program and three regional CCRRs: Cowichan, PacificCARE in Nanaimo, and Powell River. When we began to imagine this event, it was important to us to create a space for ongoing dialogue that could hold all of us – students, educators, instructors, and community members in and across our regions. We decided that a series of online events, rather than one, would allow us to nurture a space for dialogue and connections over time. We will share a definition of collaborative dialogue from the Early Learning Framework (Government of BC, 2019), our process for continuing the conversations after the event, and offer some traces of our conversations.

Collaborative Dialogue:
“Collaborative dialogue means inviting comments, questions, and interpretations from children, families, colleagues, and community members to elicit multiple perspectives. This process opens avenues for discussion not to find answers but to explore the different ways of thinking about pedagogy, and to invite reflection on assumptions, values, and unquestioned understandings. Ongoing collaborative dialogue can enrich and deepen perspectives, and can challenge educators to consider new ways of seeing, thinking, and practising.”
(Government of BC, 2019, p. 50)

Revisiting the event with students:
To invite students to reflect on the ‘Collaborative Dialogue’ event, we (Ocean and Antje) visited the students in their practicum seminar a week after the event. We wanted to express our deep gratitude to the four first-year students who shared their pedagogical narrations at the event. We also wanted to acknowledge the students in the audience and their contribution to creating a lively and welcoming space for their peers. In conversation with all the students and their instructor, we learned that many of us embraced uncertainty and an openness to experiment together. Below are two images we created with students to describe what was most meaningful to them.

Students who offered their work at the event shared these reflections:

Students who listened and engaged in the event shared these reflections:

Continuing the Dialogue:
We invite you to share your response to our post or the event by submitting a comment! You might also share your ideas and hopes for future events. What are you curious about and what kinds of professional development opportunities are meaningful to you? 


Government of British Columbia. (2019). British Columbia early learning framework (2nd ed.). Victoria: Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Children and Family Development, & British Columbia Early Learning Advisory Group.