Teacher Reflection: How we saw 2012

Our monthly evaluation of events leaves a record for us to think about at the end of the year, things to reflect on to improve our learning and teaching for 2013. The monthly reflection also creates a space to think on all the things that we missed in our evaluations and reflections because they were just part of our lives at that time in the toddler room.

During 2012, all the teachers had opportunities to attend professional development tailored to our group and individual learning needs. One teacher attended professional development on children’s schema learning. Because of information sharing from this professional development, we have focused our lens of learning more on children’s schematic knowledge. Professional development around the RIE philosophy from an outside expert who has visited Hungary and trained with Emmi Pikler at Loczy. This learning has deeply supported our understanding of the importance of engaging in respectful care practices with children. Another teacher bought a focus back to planning for each child after her professional development with the University of Auckland’s amazing Paula Orsmby. I used the knowledge she gained from a workshop on developmental disorders with Dr Francis Steinberg to support a child’s referral to GSE. Teacher N attended a workshop on art development with children to support art practice with toddlers and older children. Two of us (me included) attended the rather fabulous Childspace Nature in Nurture Conference in November 2012 and are still digesting the learning from all the workshops attended there. The All Staff PD day in November was with the amazing Stu Guyton and his ‘Wild Circus’ (from Infantastic), he reminded us to find the joy in our days, especially with our very youngest children.

We have used secondment of staff from the Infant and Toddler area to benefit transitioning children, and ensure children always feel they have familiar people to care for and nurture them. Different teachers bring their strengths, M’s focus on calm welcoming and T’s supportive discussions around the different lenses teachers use to assess children’s learning benefited the teaching and learning practices in our toddler room. S finds the different environment enriching and an opportunity to be creative and innovative with her strengths in art and presentation. The feedback from children and parents at having a familiar face with their transitioning child is very positive. Feedback on our portfolios as children moved on is that the variety of voices in them contributes well to growing a broad-spectrum picture of the child. Overall, the seconded staff found it was an enjoyable experience; although some feedback is that they did not feel long rotations are necessary to transition children and gain a full appreciation of how our room functions.

During 2012, we had M a student from New Zealand Tertiary College working with us occasionally; I am her Associate Teacher. M is in demand as a reliever so relieving work covers her weekly hours, rather than volunteering work with us. M had her in-house practicum with us in July.

The teacher-initiated activities are wide and varied, each month they include:
a parent evening with the Brainwave Trust, the Children’s Day Picnic, whānau afternoon tea, Easter, Healthy Heart Award presentation, Mother’s and Father’s Day card making, Physical Activity for Healthy Heart, juicing vegetables, Chinese New Year celebrations, NZ Book Month, St Patricks Day, Guide Dog Day biscuit baking, Anzac Day, NZ Music Month, Guy Fawkes, Matariki Celebration, Tui Garden Challenge, staff Birthday parties, Halloween dress up day, Pyjama day, Diwali celebrations, Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, Eid shared afternoon tea, Christmas and cleaning!

The golden threads of child interest that have continued throughout the year have been based around the family corner, transporting, trajectory, sensory play (including transforming and paint), and music and dance. A specific interest in dinosaurs generated by child J has continued all year. The interests that have surfaced and dropped away relate to popular culture (Angelina Ballerina, Ben10 and Spider Man), and the focus specifically on smoke alarms and helicopters
We have visitors from Group Special Education and Occupational Therapists from Starship to support our practice with child S and child V. Referrals completed for GSE are for three children for speech therapy.
Reflections each month have resulted in the strategic purchase of safety mats, new books and large wooden toy trucks. The echo in our room is soaked up with a new bright and large mat. The Tui Garden Challenge – with tremendous support from our retired cook Gaynor – has provided a beautiful garden and wildspace for our children to explore.

Our self-review of toileting and puzzle areas have led to changes in practice and environment.

The final issue demanding the most attention toward the end of 2012 is the quality of our portfolio documentation, ways we can improve it and how we can enable documentation to be more current.
For the last week of 2012, and the first week of 2013 we share our room with the infant and toddler centre while they have renovations to their centre. Sharing this space with the infant centre is both gratifying and frightening.

Possible starting points for discussion in 2013:
• Planning for transitioning children to the preschool area, and from the Infant centre, planning for transitions as a meaningful part of the curriculum, they promote children’s learning, set a positive tone, and help everyone move seamlessly through the day.
• We are also more conscious of the ‘quiet’ and ‘good’ child that may get missed in the hurley-burley of a busy childcare day, a closer focus on the quieter ones

Looking forward to 2013