Transcript of The Early Years learning framework - practices

Transcript of The Early Years learning framework - practices

Jacqui Ward:

Welcome to the early learning podcast. My name is Jacqui ward. I'm the coordinator of the early learning unit and I'm here with Sheree Bell, who's our preschool advisor and we're here recording a podcast series on The Early Years Learning Framework. And this episode is focusing in on the practices of the earliest learning framework. So what I thought we might like to sort of start with today is talking about, I think the most overlooked section of The Early Years Learning Framework. I think educators can sort of get their head around belonging, being becoming, they read the principles and then they step ahead and jump into the learning outcomes and often forget about the very important pedagogical practices section. I think when we do that, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to equip ourselves with what I think is our pedagogical toolkit; so as a teacher it teaches you the how to of teaching all of the pedagogical practices, and quality teaching, it's explaining and unpacking what does early childhood pedagogy and teaching look like. It supports your curriculum decision making, it supports all of those things. So I think that's a fundamental thing that might be missing if you are sort of struggling with a lot of decision making and all those sorts of things. think it's really good to reflect on them and how you're engaging with those various practices. I should call them out before I give you a turn to talk, Sheree. I always think it's good to label them all. There is holistic approaches, responsiveness to children, learning through play, intentional teaching, the learning environments, cultural competence, transitions and continuity of learning and assessment for learning. Awesome. So I think it's really good to be thinking about that. For example, what do they look like in real life practice? I'm stepping ahead to the next topic. I'm going to hand over to you Sheree, what have you got to say about the toolkit?

Sheree Bell:

Oh, I think like you say it is a section of The Early Years Learning Framework that can often be missed. It doesn't mean that educators aren't maybe doing some of those practices, because our educators in our early childhood settings, they're drawing on a rich repertoire of those pedagogical practices to promote children's learning, and those eight research based practices that you talk about really guide how an early childhood educator actually works for supporting children. So it is really critical to go back and have a look at those practices, like you say, the practices will support children's learning towards the learning outcomes, so reflecting on the strategies, the practices in their own toolkit is going to support children's learning.

Jacqui Ward:

Yeah, and I think, thinking of them like a toolkit, you think to yourself, what do I need in this situation? I'm going to facilitate this learning, so maybe I'll think about, what do I need to think about and plan for in my learning environments? If I want to achieve this outcome or support this child's learning, support outcomes through interest based learning. Sometimes it will mean that I'll be focusing in on those learning environments and they'll be the centre of my pedagogy for that week or that month. I think too often, educators don't necessarily reflect on their assessment of learning practices or assessment for learning practices, having a think about what am I doing and is it really collecting meaningful information, and am I using that assessment to reflect on the quality of my teaching and whether or not my teaching is on the right track. I think the way they're set out in The Early Years Learning Framework, it's one of my favorite things about the whole document. Because all of the bits and pieces you could look at very separately and individually couldn't you, it's like two or three, maybe four paragraphs. Assessment for learning is probably the biggest one, but there's lots of interest in that topic, so I think people can probably read two pages on that one. But it's a small bit of information and I think that that's one of the things that I've always engaged with The Early Years Learning Framework, to go back to it and dip in and out of different bits and pieces and think about what does it mean for me, what does it look like in what I'm doing and am I thinking about a holistic way of viewing children from that body, mind, spirit kind of point of view.

Sheree Bell:

Yeah, I think that dipping back in and out, like you say, is really important and crucial to do, because as you grow as an educator, as things come up with children's learning or in the day to day; every time you go back, every time I go back to this section or to all sections, I see something a little bit differently or it helps shape my reflection in a different way, and I'm able to think about things slightly differently. A lot of those sections are a few paragraphs, so it kind of captures and provides the tools and ideas there to support your thinking, to really put The Early Years Learning Framework into action.

Jacqui Ward:

Yeah, and you can put your own slant on it, what does that mean for me? What does that look like in my practice given my setting, given my professional development and my training and all those sorts of things. I think it's a great thing to think about regularly critically reflecting on the practices and how you're using them and whether or not you could engage with different ones. I know I heard one of our educators talk about the fact that she focuses in on one practice a week and really thinks about that particular practice and how she could better engage with that to support children's learning. I do think it's the sort of thing that different ones will come to the surface at different times. For example, you know, continuity of learning and transitions might be a prominent one at the start of the year. How are we really supporting transitions and what do I need to think about? Because it's a stage of a lot of transition, the same thing with the end of the year when you're transitioning children onto the next phase of wherever they're going. So I think those are really important things. Again, responsiveness to children, there's a nice connection there with the National Quality Standard as well, in relation to Quality Area 5, thinking about, I guess it comes back to what we talked about in our belonging, being, becoming podcast as well. Responsiveness to children, I think is really integrally connected to facilitating children to be in the environment or to be themselves and engage, giving them the time and the space I guess, to engage with their learning in whatever way they they see fit.

Sheree Bell:

Absolutely, and it is going to look and feel different in each different service, different context, it's going to look and feel different. I also worked with some educators and their process was, they took a practice at a time or they took a section of practices and they really at their meeting, they discussed and they said, ''well, if someone was to walk in here, could they see this in action? Where would they see this?'', and it challenged them to really think about, were they using their tool kit in action.

Jacqui Ward:

Oh, I like that. That's a great idea, and again it really focuses in on making children's learning visible too, isn't it? I often think about that. Yeah, look I think there's room for people to really sort of unpack those ideas, and just like you, every time I read them again, I go, 'wow, that really has a big impact on the way I think about that things'. One of my favourite sections to read and reflect on is the one, cultural competence. I had such a strong epiphany when I read that about the idea of celebrating and honoring difference, and I guess that I'd always thought of other terms that we'd used over the years (because I've been around a long time and there's been lots of names for that), multicultural, I can't even think of all of them. But I always thought of that, well I don't really have another culture and I guess I always thought of that as referring to people that maybe English was their second language or they came to Australia, migrated to Australia having another cultural connection. Whereas it's all about whatever your cultural identity is and it's much broader than your country of origin. It's about all sorts of things, gender diversity, all sorts of things make up your culture I guess, and I think that it's a great opportunity to connect children and families with what it is to be Australian as well, which I kind of really like. I think there's real opportunities when you unpack that cultural competence practice as well.

Sheree Bell:

Yeah, I liked that part too. It was very powerful talking about or pointing you in the direction of considering your own culture and your own cultural competence, and it goes beyond some bilingual books or something like that. It's well and truly beyond that, it really is digging a lot deeper and it's very powerful section. Again, kind of linking it to those big overarching themes, it's central to our sense of identity, that cultural competence.

Jacqui Ward:

Definitely, and I guess the one that's really important, well they're all important, I shouldn't put any special emphasis on one over the other. But I often get questions from educators about how am I supposed to document? Is this right? Is this the right way of doing it? Am I doing too much or is there a requirement to do this every day? For example, daybooks every day, writing and taking pictures and all that kind of stuff. If you don't like the way that you're recording your programming and planning at the moment, read through the section of assessment for learning, because it gives you lots of information, not what to do, not how to do it, not how often. There's nothing specific in there, but it tells you the things that your documentation needs to have in it. It needs to have rich, meaningful, relevant information about that child's learning. That's the only thing that's important to write about. Yet often we get caught up in recording a whole lot of different things, which is fine. There's nothing wrong with doing that. But when educators often cry, well say that they're time-poor, then we really need to think about prioritizing what's important. And I think the assessment for learning section really gives some great guidance about that.

Sheree Bell:

And I think that's good too, because The Early Years Learning Framework isn't going to tell you those exact, how many learning stories you must write for each child etc. It gives you the professional space to make a professional judgment to do what's going to suit your children, your families, your team of educators, for your particular context. What The Early Years Learning Framework does, or that section in particular that you're talking about, it again provides a tool or the ideas to start having those conversations and deciding, well what's going to work best for our children and families for us as educators in our context, and I think that's really nice thing about The Early Years Learning Framework, it's not structured in a certain way where you don't have that flexibility to take into account your individual needs of the service, of the children, of the families. I really like that.

Jacqui Ward:

Yeah, definitely. And I think the practice section is so important because there isn't the same content that there is in the curriculum of other schooling years. Primary or secondary have specific content that they need to cover. Whereas in the early years, it's not prescriptive as to what content you need to cover. It is prescriptive though in terms of, well not really prescriptive, but directive I guess in encouraging you to facilitate children's learning using the pedagogical practices. So I guess, in wrapping up to that, for me it's about if you haven't engaged with all of those sections or maybe you've looked at one or two, maybe it's an opportunity to re read them, really read them with the thinking about, what does it look like, feel like, mean for you and whether or not you could use some extra focus on that particular thing or some extra reading in that space, or whether or not that's an area of strength for you. That's an opportunity for you to support others in your understanding of learning environments for example, and learning environments being used in that way that is flexible, responsive, all those sorts of things.

Sheree Bell:

Well, that's right. I guess it gives you a vehicle for discussion to maybe even unpack or look for or think about what strategies you use on a day to day basis , to embed those practices into your every day.

Jacqui Ward:

That is a good point Sheree, cause I'd realised we hadn't talked about intentional teaching. Well that was a bit of an oversight, but I do think that that is, again, that's an often misunderstood pedagogical practice, and in fact we're doing that, we're doing that all the time. The Early Years Learning Framework about intentional teaching, but for me it really hits the nail on the head. It's not about rote teaching. It's not about only the planned experiences that you do. It's about your decision making, it's about you being purposeful, it's about you taking opportunities, responding to the teachable moments. It's about being planned and planning for your teaching strategies as well. I think that's often a thing where people do some plans for learning, but it's really just plans for resources, as in we're putting the playdough out, we're putting the puzzles out, we're putting the the mobilo out. We really need to think more about planning, A for learning in terms of the learning outcomes and B, planning for learning as to how we're going to facilitate it. So how are we going to use the pedagogical practices to support children's learning?

Sheree Bell:

Yeah, it's the why. Why are we doing this? What are we putting in place? What are we hoping to achieve by doing this. It's that purpose, that intent behind it, what strategies are we going to use in the hopes that we can support, extend, provoke, problem-solve with the children. It's very much about taking them to that higher-order thinking.

Jacqui Ward:

Yeah, definitely, and even though I said the content isn't prescriptive in there, but intentional teaching is about supporting children's content knowledge as well. It's not that it's not required in the early years, it's just not prescriptive. So mathematical knowledge, STEM knowledge, all of those sorts of things, that's where you kind of bring it in with the pedagogical practices, particularly intentional teaching.

Jacqui Ward:

And I think that's often maybe a misinterpretation or a misunderstanding that The Early Years Learning Framework isn't supporting that content knowledge, where actual fact it really is, and it's through that pedagogical practice of intentional teaching that that is done.

Jacqui Ward:

Definitely. Well that was a great session, thank you Sheree. Anything else that you wanted to add?

Sheree Bell:

I was just thinking about particularly the practices and how they can be embedded into the every day. I really liked the link to the service philosophy when you're thinking about The Early Years Learning Framework as well. Because I think that reviewing and revising and aligning and linking what you're doing to the service philosophy, can really showcase and impact how you are applying those pedagogical practices into action.

Jacqui Ward:

Yeah, and you make a good point there that one of the exceeding themes of the National Quality Standard is about embedded practice, and how do you do embedded practice? It's about everybody understanding the pedagogical practices, I think, because that allows for consistent practice across the board. And it also allows for a shared pedagogy, a shared language. We're all talking the same thing and we all understand that what and how we're doing supports children's learning. Nice wrap-up, thank you.

Sheree Bell:

Thanks, Jacqui.

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