At Mairtown we place high regard on professional learning. This is something that is very important to us as a team and we believe that some of the most powerful professional learning that we have engaged in over the years has been hands on experiences, in small groups and especially in ECE settings.
“the opportunity for teachers to participate actively and collaboratively in professional communities is an essential component of high quality professional development” (Borko, Jacobs & Koellner, 2010, p. 550)
With that in mind, over the years we have offered a number of hui, open days and workshops for other professionals. These have included workshops on our Nature Programme, the language of arts, engaging and inviting environments, how we support children for the transition to school and this week we hosted another workshop titled, “Where Do Stories Live? - Building Oral Language Through Storytelling in an Early Years Context”
This was workshop was put together and facilitated by our wonderful teacher Christine Alford who has done extensive teacher research into this topic over the years. We are so lucky to have her in our realms, and she will be the first to say that she is lucky to have the support of her team at Mairtown. Her journey has continued to bring new learning practices to the forefront for our team and there is now an authentic and rich story-telling culture within our kindergarten community.
This was an evening workshop where participants got to hear about Christine’s research and how this has influenced Mairtown Kindergarten’s thinking behind ‘Storytelling’. They were given ample opportunity to explore and engage hands on in our environment and they were able to take photographs to take ideas away with them. Documentation was available to view, along with print-outs of the workshop which included examples and reasonings of the importance of building oral language through storytelling, as well as worldwide research and quotes that support and verify the importance of this. Throughout the workshop there were also opportunities, both formally and informally, to engage in professional discussions regarding the kindergarten's programme. One of the most important aspects of the evening was that there was a delicious light supper provided.
“Drawing on the sociocultural view, shared knowledge is regarded as a basis for interdependent working and multi-professional learning in early childhood education. Shared professional knowledge can be seen as a central element in successful collaboration facilitating individual and collaborative professional learning.” (Melasalmi & Husu, 2015)
During the evening there was lots of reflection as participants unpacked how important telling stories is for oral language development, and how this looks within their places of work. The feedback was all positive and has inspired us to run another workshop in the near future. If you would be interested in attending this professional learning opportunity please contact us.
Being able to successfully run workshops like this is a credit to many factors, including but not limited to, teacher research (in this case Christine’s amazing journey), a passionate and hardworking teaching team, the supportive management collective at the Northland Kindergarten Association, all the wonderful tamariki and their whānau who are a part of our kindergarten community and also all the teachers from across the sectors who attend the professional learning opportunities we offer.
“To maintain a 21st century focus teachers need to be continually learning themselves. This means engaging in professional learning communities where educationally challenging discussions and sharing of practice occur. The exposure to new ideas and ways of teaching ensures teachers are continuing to learn and improve their practice.” (tki.org.nz)
We often feel nervous and overwhelmed when preparing and presenting, however we also find hosting workshops to be very enjoyable. Enjoyable in the sense that we get to connect with like-minded professionals, who are opening themselves up to new learning and creating time to be reflective on their current practice. We highly value this kind of connection as it often leads to a sense of unity amongst our community of educational professionals.
We hope to continue to connect with many more professionals over time and strengthen our practice as a whole, which inevitably has a positive impact of the children and their families that we all work with.