How are the children?

Transforming Pedagogical Practices
Making Connections Across Ontario

Saturday, November 10, 2012
Charles Sturt University

During Jim Grieve's keynote address entitled, How toddlers will save the world he made reference to Jean Clinton and the late Dan Alford's greeting, "how are the children?"  I thought that this was an appropriate way to begin my blog post, as our primary goal should always centre around the well-being of our students.

My day at the CAYC conference was filled with many memorable moments, and I left with my head spinning in more directions than I thought possible from all the new learning.

First, I would like to briefly share some of the important messages made during Jim Grieve's keynote address.  I had the pleasure of meeting Jim Grieve (Assistant Deputy Minister, Early Learning Division, Ontario Ministry of Education) during this past summer's conference in Victoria, British Columbia.  Today was the first time that I had the opportunity to hear him present to a large audience.  He captivated us all, and for those who attended, I am certain that you could feel the energy in the room!

Some of the points that really resonated with me were:
  • Early learning affects children's development and future well-being
  • There is a 7-to-1 return on early learning investment, research says
  • Kids are ready for school, how are we getting ready to receive them?
  • Teachers as provocators 
  • A shift from the question, "Will kids be ready for Grade 1" to "Will Grade 1 be ready for these kids?" "First we take Kindergarten, than we take Grade 1!"
  • We cannot continue to teach with our box of pumpkins that we take out every October
  • "Our toddlers will save the world if we get it right!"
  • "We have a huge influence on every moment of a child's life."
  • "Suit up for early childhood.  Suit up and make sure children are getting what they deserve!"

Jim Grieve also enlightened us on the topic of brain development:

Did you know that 20% of a baby's brain is formed at birth?

That means that we have 80% to work with!

This is of critical importance.  Each child's brain is ready, and we have the responsibility to ensure that we give them the best start in life.

Finally, Jim Grieve shared with us this youtube video that a father created after having taken photos of his daughter from birth to twelve years of age.

"We have a huge influence on every moment of a child's life." -Jim Grieve

I am not sure if he will ever read this blog post, but I would like to thank him just the same!  What a wonderfully insightful and supportive keynote address.  I felt privileged just to be in the same room as him, and am sure that his wife, daughter, and son, who are all kindergarten teachers are very proud of his commitment to early learning!

Let's not forget that we are preparing
our youngest learners to enter
the job force in the year 2025.
Following the keynote address, I presented about how Julie and I continue to use the documentation of our learning environment for further reflection and transformation.  I also gave participants a window into our Sky Inquiry, and the way that we plan for play-based and inquiry-based learning.

Thank you to everyone who attended, and special thanks to Connie Lowe who came all the way from Winnipeg, Manitoba.  I look forward to connecting our classrooms through the Twitterverse!

For anyone interested, we can continue our conversation through the comment section of this blog post.  Thank you again!

Our Planning Process

Then if the day couldn't get any better, I had the distinct pleasure of listening to Dianne Riehl and Karen Calligan from Ontario's Ministry of Education, as well as Dr. Sharon Speir, and Dr. Jeffrey Wood from The Rainbow District School Board and Laurentian University in Sudbury Ontario.

Dianne and Karen spoke about "Transforming pedagogical practices: Making connections."  Their presentation encouraged us to think deeply about our classrooms, our image of the child as capable, and about how we document and make visible student thinking and learning.  

Learning is not a linear process, in fact, it is quite complex.

How do we want to view children?

Sharon and Jeffrey spoke about "How might teacher research deepen educators' understandings of how young children learn?"  I found this presentation of particular interest, as I am currently engaging in teacher research with some of my colleagues at Bond Lake P.S. through the Ministry of Education and York Region District School Board's Early Primary Collaborative Inquiry (EPCI).

I want to share a quote with you that they highlighted,

"Children can give us strength of doubt and the courage of error.  They transmit to us the joy of searching and researching..." -Carlina Rinaldi

Thank you for encouraging us to work through ambiguity, tension, and discomfort.  I'm relieved to know that this is part of the collaborative inquiry process.

Finally, I will end off my post with Dr. Jeffrey Wood's notion that "you never stop learning, and as you learn new things you grow and change."

I'm looking forward to sharing all of this learning tomorrow with Julie, my D.E.C.E. with hopes that we can continue to learn, grow, and change together.

Share your thoughts :

  1. Joanne
    I am so happy to have found your blog. You are reminding me a lot of what I once knew how to do. I taught 3rd for awhile and now I'm back in K.

    Could you by chance share more about your sky project? I'd love to see what is inside your notebooks and on your clipboards. Maybe we could connect via dm on twitter. @mandyrobek

  2. Wow! You are amazing! I was at the conference and took the exact same pictures from the presentation by Jim! Your room was amazing (unfortunately I didn't get to spend a portion of the day learning from you).

    You inspire me! Hopefully one day I will have my own classroom and you can help me make this transformation happen!

    1. Thanks Niki!

      Yes his presentation and youtube video was amazing!!

      Thank you kindly for your feedback. I would love to help you!

      Hope that this works out for you soon!!

  3. Hello Mandy,

    Thank you for your comment.

    I am now your Twitter follower.

    I will try to post more about the sky inquiry throughout this year.