PLAY and INQUIRY
I believe that children learn about the world, the people in it and how everything is connected through play, exploration and inquiry (DEEWR, 2009). Purposeful play in early childhood (EC) provides opportunities for children to test the waters, be totally immersed in new experiences, and to feel free in everything they do. In primary settings a similar experience can be found in inquiry learning, where students ask real questions and go about find answers in an authentic and meaningful manner. Both play and inquiry methods of learning are interrelated and develop an array of vital skills and attitudes crucial for future learning.
I believe that teaching and learning should be focused on the process of learning, rather than the final product (reference). In this way teachers can employ a more holistic and child centred approach whereby children’s personal interests and goals are utilised to drive and motivate learning. The approach that I find best fits my teaching beliefs is the emergent curriculum (Jones & Nimmo, 2003). While emergent learning is most commonly applied in EC settings I believe it can be equally enjoyed in primary aged learning.
I particularly connect with the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and the Te Whȃriki curriculums. The EYLF encourages teachers, children and families to continually work towards a set of outcomes that promote positive learning, relationships and attitudes in all developmental domains by applying the process of play-based learning. The Te Whȃriki curriculum takes a socio-cultural approach to teaching and encompasses five principles; empower children, holistic learning, embrace family and community, and build responsive and reciprocal relationships. I whole-heartedly agree with these principles and believe they have a true place in every early childhood and primary environment.
Teaching is found in so much more than explicit teaching lessons. It is in the classroom and school environment, atmosphere and ethos. I am passionate about providing a positive, quality and aesthetically enticing learning environment, where each child feels free to explore and learn yet feel safe and secure in my care. A classroom that has a variety of engaging and beautiful learning spaces, while being organised and well laid out creates an environment that encourages all areas of learning. I believe children need to have ownership over their classroom space and develop autonomy to use the classroom and it’s tools to drive their own learning with the support of teachers when needed.
I aim to be a teacher who children see as their guide, friend, confidant, advisor and carer (ECA, 2011; DEEWR, 2009), although these kinds of relationships cannot occur unless you truly know your students. This takes time, effort and shared learning experiences with both the child and their family. Partnerships with families and the community are vital to the inner-working of daily teaching in Early Childhood. As we work to grow the holistic child we need to actively work with all people in our children’s lives. I believe work in an EC setting is a team effort, it cannot be done alone, and as such I aim to work collaboratively and respectfully with all members of staff. Together we can make the most out of each moment we have with every child.
PERSONAL TEACHING QUALITIES
The best qualities I possess that have really shone through in my teaching practice are my creativity, desire for learning and organisation. My creativity is a powerful tool I use in my daily teaching to evoke engagement, interest and participation from my students in a range of stimulating learning experiences. Particularly as an early career teacher, I honestly believe that I learn something new every day, whether it be from my students, colleagues or personal reflection. Reflecting, evaluating and adapting my practice helps me to continually learn and improve as a teacher (Blaise & Nuttall, 2011). My planned and organised manner allows for a calm and resourced classroom, where everything has it’s place and teaching is well thought through and considered to enable valuable learning to occur.
I enable children’s learning and development through play, exploration, and immersion in a quality learning program. I wish to teach every child in my care the skills and knowledge they need to succeed, in an environment which is built for them to be themselves (DECS, 2008). I strive to be the best teacher I can be, by continually learning, reflecting and building my knowledge and skills alongside the children in my care (Thorton & Brunton, 2010), to provide them with the best possible outcomes in life.