Haere mai! Welcome to Mairtown Kindergarten's blog.

Nau Mai Haere mai. Welcome to Mairtown Kindergarten's blog.

21 Princes Street, Kensington, Whangarei, New Zealand

Phone: 09 437 2742

Email: mairtown@nka.org.nz

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Monday, 5 November 2018

PART TWO: How does Mairtown Kindergarten's teachers uphold our code of professional responsibility and standards for the teaching profession


In my last blog I unpacked the first three standards that underpins our teacher practice (Te Tiriti o Waitangi partnership, Professional learning, Professional relationships). In the second part of my blog I will look at the last three Standards (Learning-focused culture, Design for Learning and Teaching).

How do we seek to create a learning focused culture? At Mairtown Kindergarten manaaki underpins everything we do. Our kindergarten provides a safe, nurturing and fun environment. This enables children to develop skills and knowledge that will support them in being capable, confident and competent lifelong learners. We honour the holistic manner in which children learn and grow, and we support children in developing their social and emotional learning through enabling them to experience the values of turn-taking, sharing, resilience, risk-taking and empowerment. This is documented through our assessment, blog and day-book, but most obviously through the relationships and interactions that we have with the children and their whānau. As a team we strive to foster a culture that is focused on learning, and characterized by respect, inclusion, empathy, collaboration and safety which sits well within ‘Our Code’. We want, for all the children that we work with, to develop and build on their love of learning so we know we have to provide a learning setting that encourages giving things a go, that allows for self-confidence to be nurtured and that enables all children to take ownership and responsibility for their learning.

“In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the others find themselves equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” (Hoffer)

How do we create and design places and spaces for learning? Our core curriculum components, literacy, numeracy, physicality, science, social science and the arts are interwoven throughout our learning environment. By listening to and observing children we carefully prepare an aesthetically pleasing environment and provide open-ended resources and learning opportunities that reflect and extend children's current strengths and interests, whilst fostering their imagination and wonderment. The learning environment is a key component that we place a lot of value on at Mairtown and we set it out thoughtfully and intentionally, with the focus of creating a space where the children that attend are engaged and nurtured. This is evidenced obviously in the physical space but also in the way in which our children, their whānau and the teachers interact within it. Our daybook, which we write in daily about what has been happening, is a great example of how we design for learning.

“The effort and thought that goes into creating beautiful spaces for children reflects the belief that children deserve the very best, and that their aesthetic senses need to be nurtured in the early years. Children are active learners, which means play spaces need to be stimulating and offer children many opportunities. The environment needs to invite children to become involved and encourage them to explore a wide variety of materials.” (Fraser & Gestwicki, 2002). 

Lastly, how do we teach and respond to the learners in our environment? We seek to promote an excitement for learning by recognising and responding to a child’s individual interests. Play is an essential means for learning and development that we support and nurture.  We believe in following a negotiated curriculum and our programme is hugely influenced by inquiry based learning, art as a language as well as nature based education. We value Papatuanuku as an important teacher; in nature herself the possibilities to learn and grow have no limits. We utilise our wider community regularly in our teachings; alongside this, respect for each other, our environment, our community and resources are both encouraged and promoted. Our teaching team sensitively scaffold and role-model these expectations. Time and space is also a fundamental aspect of our teams philosophy. The value of respect sees that our children and whānau are heard and time to learn is unhurried. We see knowledge as a process, a way of discovery, a way of building understanding. As a team we understand the importance of being flexible with our methods of teaching and this is seen in our practice and throughout our documentation. For us the biggest indicator that we are meeting the teaching standard of ‘Our Code’ successfully is the feedback that we receive daily with the way that the children are engaging with the environment and how the children are actively revisiting the learning experiences and provocations that we are facilitating.

“When teachers are intentional in their practice, they draw on their up-to-date knowledge of how children learn, consider the service's philosophy, and reflect this philosophical approach through practice and curriculum processes. Epstein states that intentional teaching requires the teacher to be knowledgeable about how children learn and develop. Intentional teachers use a wide range of teaching strategies to provide for, and accommodate, the range of ways that children learn.” (www.ero.govt.nz)

I feel that ‘Our Code, Our Standards’ is a fantastic document that outlines what quality looks like in an educational setting and it sets a high standard of practice that teachers need to be meeting. As many other early childhood educators will agree, all children deserve the best and ‘Our Code’ makes this clear that this is the expectation for all teachers.

“The Code sets out the high standards for ethical behaviour that are expected of every teacher.” (educationcouncil.org.nz)

I feel honoured to work alongside a group of teachers who live this notion day in and day out. As the Head Teacher at Mairtown I feel confident in saying that the teaching team strive to provide excellence and they are always finding ways to better the education and experience for those who are apart of our community. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the team at Mairtown Kindergarten for all the exceptional effort that they put into making sure that ‘Our Code’ is upheld and honoured. You are one of the very important contributing factors that makes our kindergarten so unique and wonderful.

Nāku noa, nā