Re-situating Early Childhood Education

I read Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw and Larry Prochner’s Introduction to Re-Situating Early Childhood Education. I love that they are taking a critical look at how early childhood is done in Canada. A couple years ago, I would have never thought there was a reason to do early childhood differently, but since starting my masters, I have taken some post-colonial theory and anti-oppressive education classes that have really opened my eyes to the systemic oppression evident throughout our education institutions.

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“The Ivory Tower” photo credit: Daniel Parks via Flickr

To be completely honest, I battle this idea of changing ECE.  To be “developmentally appropriate” is something I am proud of as I teach primary. I am very passionate about play-based learning, and learner centred environments. I see “success” in the way I have been teaching, and I believe in it. Challenging traditional paper centred classroom environments would be quite a bit easier for me then challenging the way ECE is thought of. To buy in, my entire pedagogy needs to change, and thankfully it has been… slowly… but surely.

Reggio Emilia is a play-based early childhood approach that claims to be based in neuroscience. I have used this style of teaching/learning to inform my own practice over the years.

An example of this is shown through a story that happened this past year.  I was teaching grade one at W.S. Hawrylak School. I often dismiss students from the carpet by what colour they are wearing. “Whoever is wearing blue, go wash your hands for lunch…  Whoever is wearing red go line up etc.” One day I dismissed any students who were wearing the colour black.  One student piped up and said, “My skin is black! Can I go?” I sort of stumbled over my words and said, “No, we just do coloured clothes” or something like that, and left it.  When sharing this story with my professor, Carol Schick, she challenged me to acknowledge what the child was doing in recognizing race. She encouraged me to affirm that child’s statement of race next time rather than ignore it. This seemingly made a lot of sense. I shouldn’t pretend like we don’t see race and we only see clothing colours. We do see race, and acknowledging it is a simple initial step to combatting racism. This was only one of the few “ah-ha” moments I have had as my knowledge has been increasing around post-colonial issues/structures.

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This is my 3 day old niece who’s father is black and mother (my sister) is white. I often wonder how race will play into her life.

What the book’s introduction started to clarify for me was that it’s not that the learning happening in ECE that is bad, it’s the system of learning that needs critiquing.  We need to think critically around the institutionalizing of learning. Education has valued early learning, but only through a neo-liberalistic lens; “Investments are made with an expectation of future benefit” (p.5, 2013). Basically we are investing and feeding into early childhood as a part of “the system” expecting/encouraging it to produce and support that very system. (One in which is based in capitalism of course.)

The authors also call out the binary/dualistic thinking that permeates early childhood education. These discourses are based in power, surveillance, and regulation. “Reconceptualist scholars remind us, these [binary] distinctions are contingent upon dualistic conceptions of power and, as such, they are problematic” (p.7, 2013). I think it’s Canella who suggests that childhood itself is a constructed concept. It allows the adult to become a powerful body, and the child to be seen as vulnerable. When we look at these issues from a re-conceptualist point of view, we are encouraged to change perspectives and come at them from a strength based approach; “This fluid and strength based approach de-establishes the developmental psychology perspective of the unified, rational, vulnerable child” (p.6, 2013).

One question I have is how does this knowledge challenge educators to approach planning/viewing/co-creating space in a strength based way for children?

How do we re-conceptualize Regina’s ECE’s power issues in regards to language, heteronormativity, and race specifically?

In what ways can educators disrupt capitalism and colonialism while still working within the common local framework of a play-based/developmentally driven childcare environment? Does this mean that classrooms should not include grocery store/post office centres for example?

I know that these musings will only be the beginning of what comes out during this class, but I am excited to dive into the work of post-colonialism through the lens of early childhood education.


Re-situating Early Childhood Education

I read Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw and Larry Prochner’s Introduction to Re-Situating Early Childhood Education. I love that they are taking a critical look at how early childhood is done in Canada. A couple years ago, I would have never thought there was a reason to do early childhood differently, but since starting my masters, I have taken some post-colonial theory and anti-oppressive education classes that have really opened my eyes to the systemic oppression evident throughout our education institutions.

8451411137_6fa3f5332a_z

“The Ivory Tower” photo credit: Daniel Parks via Flickr

To be completely honest, I battle this idea of changing ECE.  To be “developmentally appropriate” is something I am proud of as I teach primary. I am very passionate about play-based learning, and learner centred environments. I see “success” in the way I have been teaching, and I believe in it. Challenging traditional paper centred classroom environments would be quite a bit easier for me then challenging the way ECE is thought of. To buy in, my entire pedagogy needs to change, and thankfully it has been… slowly… but surely.

Reggio Emilia is a play-based early childhood approach that claims to be based in neuroscience. I have used this style of teaching/learning to inform my own practice over the years.

An example of this is shown through a story that happened this past year.  I was teaching grade one at W.S. Hawrylak School. I often dismiss students from the carpet by what colour they are wearing. “Whoever is wearing blue, go wash your hands for lunch…  Whoever is wearing red go line up etc.” One day I dismissed any students who were wearing the colour black.  One student piped up and said, “My skin is black! Can I go?” I sort of stumbled over my words and said, “No, we just do coloured clothes” or something like that, and left it.  When sharing this story with my professor, Carol Schick, she challenged me to acknowledge what the child was doing in recognizing race. She encouraged me to affirm that child’s statement of race next time rather than ignore it. This seemingly made a lot of sense. I shouldn’t pretend like we don’t see race and we only see clothing colours. We do see race, and acknowledging it is a simple initial step to combatting racism. This was only one of the few “ah-ha” moments I have had as my knowledge has been increasing around post-colonial issues/structures.

img_1896

This is my 3 day old niece who’s father is black and mother (my sister) is white. I often wonder how race will play into her life.

What the book’s introduction started to clarify for me was that it’s not that the learning happening in ECE that is bad, it’s the system of learning that needs critiquing.  We need to think critically around the institutionalizing of learning. Education has valued early learning, but only through a neo-liberalistic lens; “Investments are made with an expectation of future benefit” (p.5, 2013). Basically we are investing and feeding into early childhood as a part of “the system” expecting/encouraging it to produce and support that very system. (One in which is based in capitalism of course.)

The authors also call out the binary/dualistic thinking that permeates early childhood education. These discourses are based in power, surveillance, and regulation. “Reconceptualist scholars remind us, these [binary] distinctions are contingent upon dualistic conceptions of power and, as such, they are problematic” (p.7, 2013). I think it’s Canella who suggests that childhood itself is a constructed concept. It allows the adult to become a powerful body, and the child to be seen as vulnerable. When we look at these issues from a re-conceptualist point of view, we are encouraged to change perspectives and come at them from a strength based approach; “This fluid and strength based approach de-establishes the developmental psychology perspective of the unified, rational, vulnerable child” (p.6, 2013).

One question I have is how does this knowledge challenge educators to approach planning/viewing/co-creating space in a strength based way for children?

How do we re-conceptualize Regina’s ECE’s power issues in regards to language, heteronormativity, and race specifically?

In what ways can educators disrupt capitalism and colonialism while still working within the common local framework of a play-based/developmentally driven childcare environment? Does this mean that classrooms should not include grocery store/post office centres for example?

I know that these musings will only be the beginning of what comes out during this class, but I am excited to dive into the work of post-colonialism through the lens of early childhood education.


Back in the Saddle Again!

It’s been a while since my last post and I am back in the Saddle Again!

I have taken ECMP 355 in Winter 2015 and it gave me loads of great idea to try out in the classrooms. I had this high hope to blog about my experiences and reflections during my internship last fall, but I was too busy and I had no time to do. So I hope I can blog about my internship experiences during this semester; as well, organize my resources and share with you all.


Our pregnancy announcement!

(I just found this is in my drafts folder from May, so I am posting now!)

When my husband and I found out we were pregnant, we thought about how we wanted to share the news with our friends and family.

I teach grade 1, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to get a couple of my student’s help to make a Kid Snippet announcement. If you have not heard of Kid Snippets before, you are missing out! Kid Snippets are when children are recorded telling a story or acting out a scenario. Then the children’s voices are used overtop of adults acting out the story. If you search Kid Snippets in YouTube, I guarantee you will find at least a couple that will make you laugh out loud.

I asked two of my students to act out a couple different scenarios. I secretly recorded them and let them act away. The only prompt I gave them for this one was- “Ok C, you pretend you are the husband, and A, you are the wife. A, you are pregnant and you have to tell him.” The rest is all theirs. 🙂

Enjoy!


Hello world… I mean #EC&I834

You have to love when you click on someone’s blog and that is the post title you see; the general “hello world” blank page that WordPress sets up for the poor soul who tried to start up a blog and then never followed through. It happens a lot. Especially with teachers. I cringe every time I click on a school’s website and then on the link to a classroom teacher’s webpage and there’s nothing there! Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand how it can be overwhelming for teachers, but I wish they would ask someone who could help them, as it is such a great resource for students and parents!

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Ironic that a screenshot of Alec and Katia’s EC&I 834 page is what I am using as an example!

My journey into technology in the classroom started in my undergrad when I first took Alec’s EDCMP255 class. I did not do well. In fact, it’s one of my worst undergrad marks! I think I got a 70. I’m not sure what the assignment was, but would you like to see one of my first video assignments? We posted a video to “The Youtube.”

Yep that’s it! The title was our name? It had grainy stolen Google images, and I think we were trying to be funny- but were quite unsuccessful. Want to know the best part? It has 79 views! Those poor 80 people who have watched this video and wasted 20 seconds of their life. Although to be honest, we have all probably wasted away more than 20 seconds of our lives on pointless Youtube videos at some time or another… Cat videos anyone?

In Alec’s 255 class, I think we were supposed to make a wiki for our final project and mine sucked pretty bad I guess… especially to end up with a 70! But it’s a good thing I didn’t give up, because in my next undergrad tech class, Edcamp355 (with Dean Shareski @shareski) I made an even better Youtube video that has over 16,000 views. Apparently people really want to know how to use puppets in the classroom?!

The point is that I have been learning and growing ever since. Sometimes I have successful tech moments where a video I made or something I shared really impacts people or gets a lot of hits, (like this post I created on the difference between male and female teachers)

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and other days I create something that has 0 impact and isn’t very helpful. (Bad example post is coming!) But that’s ok! The best part is the CREATION. That’s where the learning happens, at least for me.

That said, I currently feel fairly fluent in technology and I use it quite a bit in my primary classroom. Technology is a learned skill just like anything! It takes practice, mentors, and more practice. Classes like EC&I 834 are perfect opportunities to practice creating content and sharing it with others.

That leads me to my next point- what are my goals for this class?

  1. I want to learn how to create an online class so that when/if I move into another teaching role, I will be able to facilitate an online learning environment that works for all types of learners.
  2. I want to hear about Alec and Katia’s experience with online courses. I want to hear them get vulnerable and share the feedback they have received from students! What has worked? What hasn’t?
  3. I want to get ideas from the other amazing educators in the class. What kind of great ideas are they using? How are they going to use this in their practice?

It’s going to be a great semester, and I can’t wait to learn from this great big group of educators!

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“The road ahead” photo credit: Kate Russell via Flickr


White Like Me

“White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son, The Remix: Revised and Updated Edition” by Tim Wise provided me with a lot of questions. When I first started this book it was during my summer before my third year of university started at the University of Regina in the Faculty of Education, but I did not finish the book until the first few weeks into my internship, starting my fourth year.

I am not a slow reader, but I could not finish this book in one go, like I do with most books. This one had me starting, and after a few chapters needing a change, needing to reflect. This process continued until I finished the book, more than a year later.

I have no idea what made me pick up this book in Chapters, and decide to buy it, maybe it was the conversation with friends earlier that day about White Privilege. Or maybe it was because I was in a faculty that focuses on diversity and eliminating the society norms, yet being from a small town in Saskatchewan I had until that moment put little thought into my own thoughts on white privileged and racism.

This book gives evidence that racism is taught not generic but that it is not always taught intentionally. Simple things like crossing the street when someone of a different race is walking towards you, or clutching your purse tighter, or turning away when someone of a different skin color looks at you. We are not born to notice skin color but we watch how other people behave, we learn from watching, we learn from overhearing, and we learn without ever realizing what we are learning. University was my first real experience getting to know people that had a non-white ethnic background. It was also the first time I ever seen racism happen to someone I knew. I grew up hearing thoughtless comments about Indigenous people, or Africans, or Asians, this list can continue hitting almost any person who is considered a minority in Canada, but I never realized the impact that they had on a person. The more I branched out my group of friends, the more I seen out racist Canadians can be, and the more I seen how I have an unspoken amount of white privilege. “White Like Me”, gave me a chance to think about the experiences that I have faced, and take notice in other issues around me, without even realizing it I had (and in some cases still struggle with) my own racial stereotypes and racist thoughts.

The more I read the book, the angrier and more frustrated I became, because there seems to be such little progress happening in the world, it may be directed towards a different group of people but their is still bigotry, and hatred directed at people who are different than the majority, as if it is acceptable to judge people because their voices are quieter or  lesser in quantity than the majority populations.

Changing the way people think, especially when they are unaware of their own inner thoughts, opinions and struggles, is challenging. It starts  with their education, it starts with the lessons they receive both in and out of the classroom. Having students identify their own values, and prejudices is hard at a university level, it is way harder with middle years students, because not only do you have to take into account the students beliefs but also the parents, grandparents, and all of the people who influence the students. Open discussions, honesty, and personal thoughts play a part in the lessons, but keeping your own emotions in check because the students are still learning and may have conflicting feelings, even more so if no one, or very few people in their communities are of a minority.

Besides using this book to talk about racism in society, it can be linked to the colonialist history of North America, using stereotypes and assimilation to make connections with Treaty education, and struggles that are found in Canada. This book may not be based in Canada, but similar beliefs are found between the United States and Canada, meaning that material in this book still carries wait when used in the right context.

Reading this book gave me a starting place for Social Justice, but it also made me more passionate about teaching students about social justice and they role in society. Teaching students that their voices matter, that they can make a difference is a starting point for students. One of the reasons I got into Middle Years Education is because someone once told me, “if you get middle years students passionate about something they will plan to change the world, and if you encourage and support them, one day they might”, early primary grades are sometimes to young to understand bias and unjust situations, while secondary students have seen too much failure to believe the world can be changed, this only gets stronger with age.

At some point I will likely re-read this  book, because I am still learning, I am still gathering more questions, and I am still wanting answers, ideas, and solutions to work with problems that occur in classrooms, communities, and in society. How can I preach the idea of a diverse society? I am not sure if I have a full understanding of white privilege, racism, and internalized biases. I am not sure if I will ever fully understand, but I am willing to keep learning, to keep researching, and to do my best to be aware of my own biases, the more I understand the more I can work on teaching students to question society norms, and to think about their biases and actions.


A Knock at the Door

A Knock on the Door: The Essential History of Residential Schools” was put together, written and edited by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. This  book is a very short summary of the original Truth and Reconciliation report. The book is the  perfect starting place for every teacher to start with before teaching treaty education, especially before educating students on residential schools. The book includes a full time line, survivors’ stories and tons of information that can be used to educate yourself and students on the events of residential school. The last chapter of the book focuses on moving towards reconciliation, which is the entire goal of why we teacher treaty education and have such a big focus on learning the real history of Canada. At the end of the book there is a list of the 94 calls to action created by the TRC commission, these are the actions that the public should be taking to create a path of reconciliation, many of which are able to be integrated into a classroom and allows the students to contribute to the process of reconciliation.


Be JOYful

https://www.flickr.com/photos/39877441@N05/15471707683/sizes/l


"Your destiny is to fulfill those things upon which you focus most intently. So choose to keep your focus on that which is truly magnificent, beautiful, uplifting and joyful. Your life is always moving toward something." ~Ralph Marston


'Tis the season for merriment, for laughter, gift giving, a season of wonder.

But this year, perhaps even moreso than in the last, it is also a time to reflect and be grateful for everything that life has to offer. A means to an end of sorts, as we count down the ticking of the clock and we welcome a new year, seemingly, in those few short moments before us.

Without intending to, I always seems to choose a word that symbolizes my intention for the upcoming year ahead. A way to bring my thoughts and actions to a renewed purpose. To see the world through clear insight, to harness the energy that the countdown brings.

In years past drive, determinationpassion,explore,resolve,  are all words that I know I worked towards, shared with each of you, blogged about, envisioned for myself. 

This year, as the seconds, minutes, and hourse tick by, I find myself more and more looking and working towards a JOYful existence. 

If I allowed myself to be caught up in day to day daily noise, it would be easy for the amazingly good to be overshadowed by all the things that slowly, but surely become the mudane. Life has a way of just moving, existing, wearing us down if we let it. 

But for 2017 I will work at being JOYful. 

To capture moments in which I truly see and understand the meaning of JOY. To experience the simple pleasures. To find and seek out opportunities that allow for JOY to be experienced with those around me.

For each of us it might seem like we are all each on our own different journeys, but ultimately the end result is the same. 

In order to receive, you also have to be willing to give. To see it in the mudane,our very day to day. To focus on the here and now, regardless of what tomorrow brings. To live passionately out loud and embrace each step as a milestone of a life well lived. To share your hopes and dreams, but also give voice to those fears, so that they may soon be vasnquished. To take risks and remind yourself what you are truly capale of. 
To work tirelessly to keep the flames of your heart and soul burning brightly. 

To each of you I wish nothing more than 365 days of JOYful.