What does it mean to collaborate?
The idea of collaboration holds a lot of value here at Bear Park, and the way it is implemented throughout the centre is something we think makes us pretty unique. We understand that by working with others, the potential for richer learning increases exponentially, which is why we place an emphasis on supporting children to express themselves in tandem with the responsibility to hear and respect the ideas of others.
This begins with us as teachers, acting as the example by demonstrating our ability to collaborate with families, co-teachers, atelierista, pedagogical team and members of the community. We also need to be skilled in guiding children’s interactions, promoting opportunities for them to build their own capacity to collaborate with others. When we create an atmosphere of trust, it becomes possible to explore the potential of working with others, of being able to share our ideas, and embrace others’ contributions as we work together to find new pathways.
In our planning meetings, teams discuss our observations of the children’s interactions, experiences and learning processes. Each team member is expected to share his or her thoughts and through these discussions we reach our conclusion, as a team, of what next steps to take within the classroom. We welcome critique and seek validation from each other in order to fully comprehend each other’s choices and teaching strategies. This process has a flow-on effect, influencing the way we work together in the classroom, and the choices we make with the children.
During our class meetings, children are invited to something of a ‘forum’. Rather than a typical ‘mat time’ where a teacher may sit up front and entertain with songs and stories, our class meetings are a time for shared discussion where we view each other as equals and practice our right to be heard, and to hear others. We reflect on our experiences together, children recount the significant moments from their day and invite others to ask questions. Teachers participate as equals, using their initiative to guide conversations where needed, supporting the children to maintain their intention to share specific ideas of importance.
These meetings set the tone for the rest of our daily rituals and experiences. From working around the clay table, to role playing in the dramatic play space through to our meal and rest times, there is an essence of ‘the group’ in everything we do. In this way, we celebrate children as active members of their learning community. We view children as able to consider what it is to be a citizen, and to carry out their actions considering the well-being and needs of others who share in their time and space.
We strive to create an atmosphere of collaboration, because for us, true collaboration is the pathway to an inclusive and progressive future.