I am a primary teacher by trade. Although I have held, and currently hold, other positions related to education, my roots are in teaching and I’m very proud of that fact. Throughout my career, I have had experience in working with educators and leaders from all sectors (early childhood, primary, secondary and tertiary, including special needs educators). This has allowed me a very privileged view of each of the sectors, observing how they operate, how they are similar, and how their subtle nuances reflect and ultimately complement each other. There are many, many areas which overlap, as one would naturally expect.
On Thursday, I attended a professional learning session that was given by early childhood staff. They were talking about how their tutors work together as a team to deliver their degree and diploma level programmes in an open distance learning environment. Their philosophy for working is based on the five strands of the New Zealand early childhood curriculum policy statement, Te Whāriki. As a primary teacher with junior school experience, I am aware of the principles underpinning Te Whāriki; it was good to able to revisit these today.
What became clear to me during the session was the way that Te Whāriki makes a philosophy for teaching and learning explicit through its five strands: belonging, well-being, exploration, communication, and contribution. For me, these are the fundamental principles for effective teaching and learning in all contexts, no matter what sector the students belong to. The five strands are a way of walking the talk, or putting the philosophy into action.
What was new to me was the concept of using child voice questions to articulate each strand. These are the possible questions that children might ask, if they are able to, in relation to each strand. For example, the communication strand could be represented by the child voice question, “Do you hear me?”, and the belonging strand could ask, “Do you know me?”. It seems to make so much sense.