Using Educa To Share Your Inspiration and Vision

“We knew we needed to reflect on philosophers more and didn’t really know how to get that through to all staff on a regular basis. We needed to find an easy way to implement that.”

renee clarke farm streetA Central Queensland independent operator, Farm Street Early Learning Service, has worked out a way to bring theorists to life in their everyday practice and reflection.

In fact, the educators have even got favourite theorists – Vygotsky, Bruner and Maslow – says Renee Clarke, Centre Director.

“We knew we needed to reflect on philosophers more and didn’t really know how to get that through to all staff on a regular basis. We needed to find an easy way to implement that.”

The service is busier than most – they operate 52 weeks a year and only close for public holidays. They are a 151-place centre that educates and cares for children aged from birth to preschool. And they’re open from 6:30am to 6pm from Monday to Fridays.

Theories are a Key Part of Assessment & Ratings

The range of theorists can be overwhelming. For early learning, according to the Early Years Learning Framework, they span from behaviourist, developmental, socio-cultural, critical and post-structuralists. Each of these fields help challenge traditional ways of viewing children, teaching and learning.

The prompt to bring key early education and care theorists onto the radar of the Farm Street service was their most recent assessment and rating, which ACECQA conducted. They wanted to add a different philosopher/theorist each month, reflect on what they brought to the profession and link it to their own curriculum.

Farm Street has managed that because the software platform they use (Educa) allows them to add in their own curriculum.

Embedded in Practice and Reflection

“Before it was really ad hoc how we knew if educators were even reflecting on theorists in their practice.”

“We’ve listed our philosophy in dot points in the curriculum, so our educators have to look at that every day. They tick the box for the theory that’s relevant to the learning story or reflection they’re making.

“The educators do it so regularly that it’s become so embedded, that every so often, I’ll test them as they walk past at lunch,” she says.

Clarke can also check their work online saying “I can go to the page where theorists are and can see the majority of our educators are linking to Vygotsky and Maslow.

“Before it was really ad hoc how we knew if educators were even reflecting on theorists in their practice.”

But they weren’t doing too badly then anyway as their last National Quality Standard – September 2016 – rating shows. Overall they rated “exceeding” the standards.

Appreciating Different Perspectives

Services would know they need to tip their hat to theorists as part of their responsibility to follow the Early Years Learning Framework. The fascinating fact, is that each theorist can have “a ‘perspective’ or position that may be quite different [from other theorists] on the same issue or topic”, writes Ann Kennedy in a factsheet on theorists for Early Childhood Australia.

And something meaty to leave with you … researcher Susan Grieg, from Flinders University in South Australia, has written in the Australasian Journal of Early Childhood Education about the role of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) in helping educators to step their practice up another level. She calls CDA a multi-dimensional framework to “support the assessment of young children’s learning”.

Modified tools and considerations from CDA help do this. They include:

  • looking at the language as a “meaning-making system” that draws on conscious and unconscious linguistic choices
  • analysing the inter-relationships
  • examining the perception teachers have of children and childhood
  • considering moral decisions about the purposes of education and children’s interests
  • deciding what show be assessed
  • moving from description to analysis

In her paper[1], she says: “ … CDA enables early childhood educators to re-examine young children’s learning in multiple ways from different perspectives and that the theoretical and analytic tools made available in CDA enable early childhood educators to see practice differently.”

And that in a nutshell, is what early learning theorists prompt you to do – reflect on your work an educator in a fresh and inspired way.

Request more case studies and use cases here

 

Links

Linking theorists to EYLF

ECA’s resource on theorists

Pinterest – linking to the theorists in early childhood

ECA: What have theories got to do with it?

TAFE NSW ready reckoner of theorists

[1] Grieg, S. [2017], Assessing young children’s learning: Using critical discourse analysis to re-examine a learning story, Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, Volume 42 Number 2 June 2017

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