Saturday, 11 July 2015

Evolving Practice.

7 years ago, eating lunch around a fire was a totally new experience to me.
I have now been a nursery teacher for 15 years, blogging for 4.5 and I have found blogging to be a great way for me to reflect on my practice, challenge my way of thinking and best of all, allows me to be involved in critical self-evaluation.
If I write a post about a certain activity I have done or why I approach thing in a particular way, I have to really think about the how & why of my practice & I am aware that others will be reading it & I try to be as honest as possible so that if someone else wants to try something similar they will be fully aware of any issues that may arise.
A fire is now a weekly activity in our playground.
I have found the rise of the internet and social media a great way for me to connect with other educators around the world but I do try not to just jump from one idea to the next just because I've seen someone else do it in their setting. I do like the challenge of finding new ideas and changing my own practice but I do try to be wary of just changing things for the sake of it. Let's face it we all resist change in our own way and can be unwilling to try new approaches and yes I have heard myself say 'But I've always done it this way' or 'I tried that before and it didn't work' but fortunately I work with a great team - a supportive Principal, incredible nursery assistants, wonderful 3 & 4 year olds and their parents - and each of them helps me to question my practice on a daily basis. Some things I will stand up and make no apology for doing them in a certain way - those 15 years of experience have given me confidence in my practice and I found doing further studies helped give me other theorists to help me back up my beliefs. I make no apology for some of my stances - I do not see the point in nursery children doing P.E sessions in the main school - I offer all those physical development opportunities during outdoor play.
Sometimes it takes an 'outsider' to make me rethink the how and why of practice, whether that be my principal, an inspector, a parent or a colleague from another setting.
And if I found myself only having 'because this has always worked' as my reason for doing something, it does make me rethink the practice & start to reflect on when we began doing this and why - often I find that we might have started doing something because of a particular child or class and then I have to think 'does this current practice reflect the needs of the children in my current class?'
Between 2004 and 2011 I was very fortunate to be involved in 2 British Council's Comenius  (now Erasmus +) projects with schools across Europe and this really allowed me to reflect on my practice and constantly challenge myself as to why I was doing things the way I was. After spending 2 days in the kindergarten in Norway I did have to ask myself, why do we stay inside if it is raining? I was lucky enough to work for a week in the same kindergarten in 2008 and at the end of that week I was given a little book of photos to take back to my class. 
Playing in the 'forest' area of the playground in the mud kitchen is now everyday practice.
The title on the cover was 'Our favourite things to do outside' - it was full of photos of children playing outside in the rain & snow, eating lunch outside, enjoying sitting around camp fires etc. When I took it back my class were amazed by it and they spent ages pouring over the photos and I heard lots of 'ooh' and 'ah' as they looked at the photos. I gained so many ideas from that little book - taking powder paints out in the rain, painting snow, playing with rain & mud etc. The partnership with that kindergarten in Eikefjord had such a profound effect on my practice that 7 years later I watched as 4 children came across this album and began to look through it, instead of hearing 'ooh' and 'ah', I heard 'Oh we do that' or 'They cook bananas too' - it really made me realise just how far my practice had come in 7 years. So here's to self-evaluation and reflection and to where I'll be in 7 years time!!

You can read about my job shadow in Eikefjord here: http://nosuchthingasbadweather.blogspot.co.uk/2011/08/settings-around-europe.html


4 comments:

  1. Kierna, this is such a good post!
    I know blogging is such a good way for self evaluation, reflection, and learning.
    I have been thinking of getting back to writing in my blogs in order to express my thoughts and learnings. As well it is a good way to connect, and learn from what others are up to.
    Have a great summer!

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    1. Hi Brenda, I always loved reading your very reflective posts. Thanks for always leaving such lovely comments.

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  2. Looking forward to learning with you and accomplishing great things!

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    1. Ditto, wouldn't be half the practitioner I am without you to challenge and encourage me each week.

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