An Inquiry in Responsibility

“We find our allies by being vulnerable.”





– A conversation with a loved one.

In Shannon McDaniel’s work ‘The Educator I Once’ Was she tells a story of her experience with taking children out into nature. McDaniel reflects on the transformative journey. First, her initial hesitancy and discomfort while supervising the children as they explore the forest freely. Next, her awareness and vulnerability in asking for help and support from colleagues, which is met with warmth and wholehearted acceptance. Then, in her own time McDaniels is able to ease back into spontaneity alongside the children, trusting, and observing their processes with curiosity. Through this observation and reflection McDaniel poses some profound questions. Amongst them, this:

“Who are we responsible to?”



“Who are we responsible to?”

I sit in silence between breaths waiting for an answer to uncover itself.

To Parents? Teachers?
Bosses?
Peers?

The multitude of possibilities writhe around in my head.

“Who are we responsible to?”


The children?
Mother Nature?
Our community?

“Who are we responsible to?”

Tradition? Education? History?

Slowly the pieces begin to form patterns,
falling into place.

In personal reflection of this question, I draw parallels between McDaniel’s anecdote and the answers that come to mind.

I imagine the children in McDaniel’s writing, bounding through undergrowth, laying on the forest floor, constructing fortresses built from the inspiration bursting forth from their limitless imaginations. Joyously. Honestly. And I recall McDaniel. In open an honest connection and collaboration, plunging her bare feet into the cold and squishy mud to break the tension of uncertainty within the group.

Who were they responsible to?

The bugs in the dirt? Forest flora and fauna? The dirty socks to be laundered and the mopping to certainly be done upon returning indoors?

Maybe all of these things..

And maybe none of them.

“Inclusive learning and care supports the individual strengths and needs of each child, allowing them to meaningfully engage, learn, and contribute to the community and culture of their program.”
-BC ELF P.103

At any given time, within any experience, each individual carries their own perspectives and motivations. Children and adults alike. This intrinsic and intuitive drive has such potential to be a catalyst for a plethora of rich and impactful experiences. A bridge between the known and unknown. And in tandem with connection and collaboration, an almost immeasurable opportunity for growth and transformation.

So, breathe deeply…
Sit and listen,
Let your thoughts come and go however they so choose.

And inquire honestly:

“Who are we responsible to?”

“Who am I responsible to?”

You may be surprised what you will find.

You already know.

References:

Daniels,S.(2019).The Educator I Once Was. British Columbia Early Learning Framework. 91-92.https://www2.gov.bc.ca/…pdf

British Columbia Early Learning Framework (2019). https://www2.gov.bc.ca/…pdf

Warm and Welcoming ECEC Community

By Samantha Bremner

What an amazing feeling it is to meet so many of my professors and classmates in the ECEC program for the first time in person after being colleagues and friends online for over a year. The feeling of being in a real life classroom with all these wonderful people is unreal. Being in the same space has enabled me to feel the energy of the group during discussions, and be moved by others. 

When I got accepted to the ECEC program back in the beginning of 2020 I was so excited to meet new friends who had similar interests as me! When I found out that the program was going to be online due to Covid 19 I was very upset and worried as I had never done any online schooling before. Throughout the year I was convinced that I would probably never get to meet all the beautiful faces that I’ve come to know as rectangles on my computer. This year proved me wrong and let me tell you I’ve never been happier to be proved wrong! 

Everyone in our ECEC cohort is amazing. We are supportive, kind, friendly and helpful. Something I have also noticed is I find it much easier speaking out loud and sharing my thoughts in a classroom, because I have grown to know and trust everyone in the program. We are creating a place to be vulnerable, knowing we won’t be judged. 

Being in a class with all these amazing people gives my mood and energy such a boost, unlike zoom where I unfortunately leave the class feeling a bit drained most of the time. Yesterday a few of us decided to stay on campus after our 270 class and get some lunch before our next class! We all went and got Subway and came back to the ECEC classroom to eat it. Afterwards the six of us joined the next zoom class as a group. It was a lot of fun hanging out and getting to know each other outside of class.I am nourished by interactions. 

 We are also a lot taller than I thought.

Car Wash

By Jill Adshead

Play is the highest form of research.

Albert Einstein

A pile of sawed off tree branches that were recently cut from a tree in the backyard.

Untouched, neatly stacked against the metal fence. The children walked by them but yet, no one showed interest.

I called over to J. “J, please come here. I have something to show you.” J ran over and looked at me standing directly in front of the logs.

“Want to build something out of these logs?” I asked. In a high-pitched voice, J excitedly said, ”Yeah!”

I asked him where we could put them. He scanned the area and focused on the tires. “There,” he pointed.

J, “I need you to help me build a track.” “Sounds like a great idea!” I answered. J’s friend R was nearby. I suggested to J that he include R in this build. J did so and they both eagerly took charge while I slipped into the background.

J, “We need them to go like that.” J and R began to line up the logs in a straight line. I found this interesting as I assumed the children would build a campfire because of the size of the logs.

J, “We need them to jump over these.” J points from from one end of the logs to the other while holding a matchbox car in the other.

R, “I want a tunnel.”

J, “Look! There’s two jumps!”

The boys continue with their build.

J, “I have an idea.” He doesn’t finish his thought but with a long sigh, “It won’t work though.”

J and R don’t conversate but are focused on their own project within their project.

R, “There’s an ant on it.” J goes to R, “Oh yeah, I see it.” R tries to catch it. J, “It’s black. The red ones are bad.”

I questioned, “What do red ants do?” J, “They bite you.”

J continues to build and R leaves the space. J does not ask him where he was going.

J, “This is going to be a carwash. It’s going to go fast, jump, jump and over to the other side.”

J asks if I could fill a watering can for him and I do.

J, “Thanks.”

J slowly pours the water over the car. He proceeds to get the car dirty in the dirt and washes it off with water. This is action is repeated.

J stands up, leaving his car and water on the ground. With his left hand on his chin, “This is what I do when I am thinking.” He walks in circles. J, “I’m thinking. This is what I do when I think.” With his left hand he taps his chin.

He walks back to his car and watering can. “Wash, rinse, rinse, dry.”

He continues, “How do we dry it off?”

At this point in time, I could have given a multitude of answers, but I wait. I say, “Great question! How do we dry it off?”

J stands up again with his left hand on his chin and walks in circles. “In the sun!” he exclaims.

He walks over and leaves the car on a wooden table to dry out in the sun.

J, “40 minutes to dry out in the sun. It will be done drying when we are done the track.”

Lingering questions

  • How do I engage with children? When might I step in and when might I step back?
  • “What kinds of questions do I ask about children’s engagements? How does my language reflect children as creators of theories? How do my questions reflect children as constructors of knowledge?” (ELF, p. 76)
  • How could this play be extended? “What materials invite experimentation, problem solving, or intrigue?” (ELF, p. 77)
  • What are the complexities of being an educator and researcher? What am I listening to? What matters to me? And what do I make visible in documentation?
  • How are children involved in the process of working with documentation? What are some ways children can give permission to share the stories? Where do the stories live?

Reference:
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. https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/early-learning/teach/early-learning-framework 

Inspiring Pedagogical Narrations

By Heather Wilson

In the reading ‘The Educator I Once Was’ by Shannon McDaniel in the Early Learning Framework (Government of BC, 2019, p. 91-96), I wonder how much time and reflection took place before she felt able…

“… to be more spontaneous in the woods.”

I wonder about her initial anxiety and how she perceives that experience as her practice continues. Does she always think back to this memory and see the positivity in how far she has come? Or is she thankful for her apprehension, as it guides her more than it stunts her growth as an educator?

When she models her own curiosity by putting her barefoot in the mud, the educator and child experience, learn and grow together, and she captured it beautifully in her Pedagogical Narration.

McDaniel’s story connects me back to Ted Aoki’s (2004) article, ‘Teaching as In-Dwelling between Two Curriculum Worlds’, where he mentions, “… there is a forgetfulness that teaching is fundamentally a mode of being” (p.160). To me McDaniel’s role as an educator has gone far beyond a simple statement of, ‘taking toddlers into the forest’ but she lived her experiences with the children and with her colleagues.

The children saw her vulnerable on both occasions mentioned above. First, with her anxiety of her capabilities and the children’s’ in the woods, but by asking for help (from her colleagues) she models to the children what they might do if they are afraid. I wonder if she presented her fears to the children. What kind of outcome or solution would they present? Her second engagement with the toddlers, forest and mud was another moment of vulnerability. The educator is trying a new thing, pushing her comforts and exploring her senses and environment – just what we as educators are trying to give the children.

Exploring the Beach

She presented an amazing example of modeling by just being true to herself. That cannot be taught in one lesson, it is taught in experiences, places and relationships.

References: 

Aoki, T. T. (2004, 2011). Curriculum in a new key: The collected works of Ted T. Aoki (W. F. Pinar & R. L. Irwin, Eds.). Lawrence Erlbaum, Routledge.

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. https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/early-learning/teach/early-learning-framework 

Conversations Through the Fence

By Amanda Gillmore and Jade Felty

Amanda Gillmore and Jade Felty are second year Early Childhood Education and Care Diploma students at Vancouver Island University. In April 2021 they both started their final Infant & Toddler practicum at two different locations in Central Vancouver Island and ended up being next door neighbours. All that was dividing them was a chain link fence.​

​Within the first few days of Practicum Jade had noticed Amanda and called out to her and waved through the fence. Before this practicum Amanda and Jade had never met in-person, but due to the Pandemic they met in 2020 through the transition of online courses with Vancouver Island University.

“Over the past 5 weeks I have had the opportunity to meet with Amanda through the fence at Practicum. It has been wonderful being able to make contact and connect with another student in my cohort during the isolating times of the Covid-19 pandemic. We exchanged thoughts and feelings about community, connection, our pedagogical narrations, and our lives. On our last visit Amanda and I exchanged letters.” Jade

“I fondly remember the first time that I met Jade in-person. I was outside at my new Practicum Centre, and I heard my name being called, but I didn’t recognize the voice or where it was coming from. I looked up and there waving and smiling through the fence was Jade- my VIU ECEC colleague. Jade and I had only ever met online through our ECEC classes through Zoom. We briefly had a conversation and with agreeance from our Practicum Instructor we decided to meet regularly outside of each of our centre’s sitting along the fence. I had one request that our conversations be organic and focus on each other, self-compassion and heart focused on what each of us needed on that day we would meet. Each week we would check in with one another, normally twice a week, ranging from 30 minutes to 1 hour. It was exactly what both of us needed and we maintained this weekly having our conversations through the fence.” Amanda

Reimagining Practicum Seminar

By Antje Bitterberg, Patricia McClelland, Rupinder Rajwan, and Charlene Roulston 

We are a team of four instructors – Antje, Charlene, Patricia, and Rupi – and have found much joy and meaning in working collaboratively as instructors. In preparing for the Spring 2021 semester, we noticed that each of us was assigned a group of practicum students enrolled in either an infant/toddler or diverse abilities practicum. We connected and wondered, ‘What might happen if we combined our 2nd year students in one collective practicum seminar?’  

We each bring curiosity and courage to the process of reimagining practicum seminar. It would have been easy to continue our work in isolation. Each of us would have worked with our own group of students, and students would have completed their practicum. However, by embracing the Early Learning Framework [ELF] and the image of teachers as “researchers and collaborators” (Government of BC, 2019, p. 15) we were called to move beyond the walls of our own classes to create opportunities for collaboration and inquiry, for students and instructors alike! The ELF states, “Learning is not an individual act but happens in relationship with people, materials, and place” (p. 65). This statement is foundational to our teaching and our shared vision for our team-taught seminar.  

Over the course of the semester, we found a rhythm that allowed us to create both a collaborative space for students and  their four practicum instructors, and an intimate space for each group of students and their respective practicum instructor. Each week we alternated between gathering as one large group, and then gathering with our small groups. Throughout the semester, the four of us also met frequently to discuss emerging questions and which threads to make visible in our next team-taught collective seminar. 

Students in these 2nd year practicum courses are learning how to generate curriculum. They are asked to listen closely to the interests of children in their practicum settings and to begin creating and sustaining a curriculum inquiry with the children and colleagues within their unique contexts. Similarly, in our seminar, we have taken on an inquiry nourished by emerging interests of the group. We started by exploring a pedagogy of listening as described in the ELF, then moved into, and stayed with, the complexities of working with pedagogical narration. As our course comes to an end, we have unearthed more questions than answers about the process working with pedagogical narrations, who they are for, and what they set in motion.  

We invite you to linger with the following question that emerged for us in and through conversations provoked by the ELF. “Engaging with complexity means accommodating many ways of thinking, seeing, doing, and knowing as well as being a condition of professionalism in early learning” (Government of BC, 2019, p. 2). What does this ask of us? 

References:

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. https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/early-learning/teach/early-learning-framework 

Meal Time Journey

By RoseMary Antony

Setting the mood
Little feet tap with excitement,
Little eyes wait with longing,
Few little minds forget its coming,
‘Its time for snack’ as the teacher remarks.
The gates open to meal prepped tables,
number of little feet scramble to spot their seats,
oh , the joy to see the familiar(their snack boxes),
‘Its time for snack’ as the teacher hums.
The mood is calm, the mood is focus,
munching into their snack with a sense of purpose,
a spill or two is cleaned with care,
‘Its time for snack’ as the teacher smiles 🙂

The choices
From cottage cheese to applesauce,
to crackers and sandwiches.
The choices are one too many,
For little minds to fathom hastily.
A spoon, a bib, ”I’ll open it” an excited friend speaks,
the cold strawberry yogurt is savored with every spoon.
Across the table a little friend perplexed,
pushes away all the choices with a sudden reflex.
A patient educator with a calm and softness in her tone,
offers time to process the choices that lay forth
a momentary pause later a decision is made,
‘I want this’ the little finger points to the quinoa salad that awaits.

The closing
” I want something else”,
“I’m done”,
Few little fingers play with an empty container in sight,
Snack time is coming to an end
Let’s get you cleaned up,
Here’s a wet cloth and a wipe,
Little hands wipe and clean themselves
I want water, I want milk,
Little faces and tummies flooded with joy,
“I want to go play again”
As tables and chairs creak across the floor,
Little friends are excited to return to play,
A teacher stays back, humming a rhyme,
as she wipes and cleans every little crumb.

Respect

By Lacey Holmes

I am thankful for being introduced to the infant toddler curriculum from such dedicated educators as Magda Gerber (Gonzales-Mena & Widmeyer Eyer, 2018) and Ward Nakata (Child Care Human Resources Sector Council, n.d). While watching their individual interviews related to infant and toddler child care, I can really tell how dedicated and knowledgeable they are in this field. Both talk so highly about respecting the infants in their care, and following the children’s rhythms of the day. I am very interested in exploring how we might follow children’s rhythms in early years programs and will be engaging with the following critically reflective question posed in the ELF (Government of BC, 2019): “What role does the clock play in my day? Do routines follow the clock or the people in my program” (p. 78)?

I recently watched the video ‘Thinking big: Extending emergent curriculum projects’ (Felstiner, Pelo, & Carter, 1999). 

The children in the centre were really interested in the block building activity.
The teachers sustained this interest in building for weeks by letting the children use wooden cubes to stack and climb on to make tall towers. 

The educators supported the children in building even taller towers, by taking them to the hardware store to buy a step ladder.

Finally, the educators further sustained curiosity and inquiry by going on a field trip to a local park to have a tour of a large stone tower.

I am curious to find out how children and educators can generate curriculum like this together. As a practicum student, I also wonder how I might become engaged in co-creating curriculum with children and educators. How might we accommodate and respond to children’s interests? What might happen when children’s rhythms, rather than the schedule, lead the day? What might it feel like for children, educators, and families to be in a setting with fewer limits around, or structure on, activities and schedules? I have noticed from my experience in a preschool setting that each child goes through the day at a pace. Some children really enjoy painting and take their time, while others are finished in minutes. Some children eat very quickly while others like to socialize while they eat. Some children enjoy an afternoon nap, while others do not need the extra sleep. How can we be accommodating to each child’s unique needs? What is fair?

The First Peoples Principles of Learning remind us: “Learning involves patience and time” (Government of BC, 2019, p. 14). To notice the children’s rhythms we must be attentive and in the moment. If our attention is divided, then we are not able to pick up on the cues the child is trying to communicate with us. Danielle Alphonse (personal communication, Jan 29, 2021) reminds us what matters in our relationships with children: “An educator is being really present. Identifying your gift as an educator is honouring what you have in your mind, heart, spirit and recognizing your internal thoughts regarding guidance to support children’s development/behaviour for their future, or are you basing your decisions by thinking about the past interactions? Asking these appreciative inquiry questions helps an educator to situate oneself in the present. Children know when you are not being present with them, and they know right off the bat and will decide not to give you time and engage in relationship. If children don’t feel like you are giving them your full presence (attention) like they do, they will engage with another educator who is giving them full acknowledgement of their being.”

While we continue to learn and grow with our little explorers, I would like to challenge you. Be fully present, get engaged with the materials, and build on the interests to take the learning experience to the next level! Whether that’s with a trip to the hardware store or simply your time and attention. Take a page from the book of everyone’s favourite teacher:
“Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!” – Miss Frizzle

References:

Child Care Human Resources Sector Council (n.d.). Working in early childhood education – Early childhood educator profile: Ward Nakata. Child Care Human Resources Sector Council. https://vimeo.com/38643168

Gonzales-Mena, J. & Widmeyer Eyer., D. (2018). Infants, Toddlers, and Caregivers: A curriculum of respectful, responsive, relationship-based care and education (11th Ed.). McGraw-Hill Education.

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. https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/early-learning/teach/early-learning-framework 

Felstiner, S., Pelo, A., Carter, M. (1999). Thinking big: Extending emergent curriculum projects. Hilltop Children’s Center. Harvest Resources.

Envisioning a qathet Regional District ECEBC Community Branch

By Kristal Gordon

At this time, we are situated in, a time where individualism becomes prevalent and bubbles of selected few represent our current state, we cannot help but ask, will this be our new world? The potentiality of a world anew, opening again. I find myself embracing this thought of new beginnings. A place where we are connected in a network, that fosters sustainability, support, and retention. This place became the missing link in Early Childhood Education (ECE). It left many unanswered questions in our profession. Unanswered questions that were there before the pandemic and became emphasized when ECE’s fragmented parts were exposed. It leads us to ask, how might we move forward in a sustainable way?

In my journey I have always been passionate about the field of ECE. I found myself at a crossroads when I wanted to take my education further.  I enrolled myself in selected electives to continue my path to obtaining my degree in Education. This encounter with disciplines beyond ECE challenged and enlivened my thinking. The entangled roles of student and educator excite me and give me new perspectives.  

When it was suggested to start an ECEBC community branch in the qathet Regional Disrict I found myself on foreign ground. What is an ECEBC community branch and how do you start an ECEBC community branch? It is not easy to start from a place of uncertainty. However, starting from this point fostered a curiosity and excitement of what could exist. Actively shaping an ECEBC qathet Regional Disrict branch to help sustain, support and retain ECE’s in our community. This is a starting place, to be open to asking questions and think with the Early Learning Framework in mind. What does it mean to collaborate? What does it mean to work together? How do we sustain an ECEBC community branch? What do we want to see in an ECEBC community branch?