Holy Family Gowrie adopt a new way of teaching
This year, our kindergarten team embarked on a new way of teaching by adopting the philosophy of Reggio Emelia. They reflected on their learning as part of the school’s Action Research Cycle. Here is their reflection.
Today’s educators and parents are familiar with the idea of the learning environment, being referred to as “The Third Teacher”. This is not a new 21st-century concept. It has been around since the 1940s and was brought into awareness in the 1970s through the schools of Reggio Emilia, inspired by Loris Malaguzzi. The main focus of this concept was on creating beautiful places and spaces for young children to play and learn in.
Most educators believe that classroom environments in which children live and learn have a profound influence in helping them develop important skills, attitudes, and behaviours.
To adopt the belief that ‘the environment is the third teacher’ encourages the educator to consider themselves as co-learners and collaborators with their students and not just the instructors.
Teachers are encouraged to facilitate the child’s learning by:
• Planning experiences based on the child’s interests,
• Asking questions to further understanding,
• Actively engaging in learning alongside the child.
The opportunity to explore the Reggio inspired concept to lead us to stop and really identify, discuss, and unpack the big ideas behind our classroom organisations, structures, and systems. It is more than just bringing in a comfy couch, tables, pretty lights and one or two plants. What were the beliefs and principles behind classroom setup, furniture, and routines?
Comparison of Past and Present
Two current kindergarten teachers have had the pleasure and privilege of teaching Kindergarten for a number of consecutive years. This enabled them to compare the learning behaviours and performance of kindergarten students this year with previous years at the school.
These are some of the many changes we have observed of students:
• Had a positive transition from preschool to primary school.
• Require less behaviour management.
• Establish and maintain friendships more quickly.
• Return to class after breaks with enthusiasm.
• Greater sense of justice and fairness.
• Higher levels of concentration.
• Exceptional listening skills.
• Greater tolerance and patience.
• Problem solving and agency.
• Follow more complex instructions.
• Improved spatial awareness.
• Improved organisation skills.
• Ability to self-regulate.
• More resilient.
• Improved academic performance
• More confident.
Parents too were ecstatic at the results and were so pleased that the kindergarten teachers had adopted this approach to teaching and learning.
“During my daughter’s first year at Holy Family, we’ve noticed a remarkable change in her attitude to learning. She is inquisitive and eager to share her new-found knowledge at home. We’ve also noticed an improvement in her creativity, social skills, and the growth of her confidence. We believe this is largely due to the open-inquiry play-based learning program.”
“Student engagement was considerably high while they were in their ‘work stations.’ I think the level of engagement was high due to the work stations being connected to student interest, curriculum aligned and age appropriate. This inquiry learning allowed the Kindergarten students at Holy Family to explore, discover, and experiment. I also appreciated that every classroom had different work stations in them as they met individual learning needs and student interests and wonderings.
I also observed students using a mature level of collaborative skills to effectively communicate with their peers. These skills included; sharing, listening, responding to ideas, and problem solving.”
“My experience with my daughter and inquiry play-based learning has been exceptionally positive. Her curiosity is supported, at what is such an important and inquisitive age. I believe this semi-structured, child lead approach encourages and nurtures student involvement as opposed to the traditional lecture style of teaching. Children are given the opportunity to engage in their surrounds which delivers a full learning and sensory experience. My daughter is excited to learn and I am continually surprised by her level of knowledge and retention at such a young age. This is evolved education and I hope the program continues to grow.”
We embarked on this learning journey with an inspiring and dedicated team who were incredibly humbling and empowering. Throughout our time, we were challenged, rewarded and enthused by our day-to-day practices. Our pedagogy improved with the time we spent collaborating to develop further opportunities for the children. This journey filled our minds with wonder, inspiration, reflections and questions.
While this learning journey has taken three years, it is still not over.This learning journey has spanned across three years and will continue to develop into the future. In 2020 we all hope to:
· Continue our learning.
· Continue providing play-based inquiry education in all year levels.
· Educate our colleagues on this educational approach.
· Inspire others to seek the best education for their students.
With such wonderful feedback from teachers and parents, it looks like this model of learning is here to stay.