Continuity of idea and purpose throughout our Bear Park classrooms enables a daily flow that supports the zones of proximal development of our learners. We view this flow as a ritual rather than a routine and we consider our daily flow to be meaningful practices that are essential to empowering our tamariki.
Carefully considered lighting within our learning spaces helps to set the tone and is reflective of the different times of the day. As a teaching team, we are mindful about the ways in which we incorporate light, using it to incite provocations and provide soft lighting during rest times. Our team’s attention to light creates a learning environment that is calm and engaging for children and a springboard for empowered learning.
Empowering our tamariki
Our teachers collectively reflected on how we can empower our tamariki to respect and take responsibility for our shared environment. As a result, we believe that tamariki should be given the space and time to develop self-help skills to become more involved within their own care routines and learning journey.
When educators provide children with real choices, they empower them to take ownership. When children are empowered, they are more likely to develop a sense of themselves as capable and confident learners. Once educators reflect on their role, it opens up space to think more deeply about how they can support children to take ownership of learning that is self-relevant.
To allow our tamariki to thrive and empower them to take charge of their own learning journeys, our teachers focus on respectful care, meeting time rituals, investigative learning, and teamwork.
“We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.” —John Dewey
Having a respectful practice is a key value that we, as Kaiako, hold within the centre. Trusting relationships are established between tamariki and Kaiako through these respectful care moments and the process starts by first creating a positive and reciprocal relationship during the transition process from home to our loving Bear Park environment. From this process, we’re able to be responsive to a child’s individual needs as we get to know them.
Meeting time rituals
The rituals within our meeting times are welcoming to all. These rituals reconnect everyone, recognising who is ‘here’ today through name stones, knowledge and idea sharing, and reflective learning.
Our name stone ritual is unique to the Tui room. In the morning, children place their rock into the ‘here’ basket, which is then shared during the meeting time before children wash their hands for morning tea. We believe that meeting times foster enjoyment and should be fun so we are continuously developing relationships with one another, gaining knowledge, supporting confidence, and encouraging participation. We believe that flexibility during this time fosters participation.
Investigative learning begins firstly by coming together as a room on the whāriki for meeting time, when the tone for the investigative learning is set for the day. During this time, we revisit the learnings from the previous day and children are given the opportunity to share what their group has been doing. Provocations for today are also briefly shared before the children are invited to move into their groups.
Our tamariki are encouraged to stay in the same group to build on the learnings from the previous day. The undertone for each investigative learning time is collaboration, with teachers and children working together in a learning partnership.
Teamwork is extremely important in order to provide children with an environment that offers meaningful learning opportunities, consistency, and quality care. We believe respect and open communication encompasses our understanding of teamwork as a whole and how we work as a team.
Respect: Embracing this value means respecting one another’s ideas and ensuring that everyone has a voice. It is about role modelling this value to our tamariki so they develop an open-mindedness and acceptance of one another’s views. Respect has enabled us to work together and play on each other’s strengths, support each other in our weaknesses, and come together to support our children in a holistic lens.
Open communication: For us to work effectively as a teaching team, we thrive on respectful, open, and effective communication. This hinges on honesty—being open to feedback and suggestions in practice to support each other and, in turn, our tamariki.As Te Whāriki highlights, we, as Kaiako, have a responsibility to not only enhancecherishhonour the mana of our tamariki, but create a work environment that does the same for Kaiako.