Interestingly, it was against the backdrop of Inquiry Days that some other intriguing pedagogically events were unfolding across the school. One of the issues emanating from the Inquiry Days was an apparent disconnect between the learning needs of children and what the teachers saw as imperatives. The children were at varying stages of requiring support to access learning opportunities, the teachers were worried about accountability relating to curriculum scope and sequence and assessment. Some people probably saw the Inquiry Days as a form of disconnect as well. We saw it as a means to an end.
I think we were all agreed that the children’s needs should be met; there were perhaps different ideas about the way this could be delivered. I wrote last year about the imperative for schools to be ready for children rather than children be ready for school. I think it in that space that we made big steps forward.
Emma and Elizabeth early in the year had moved away from a play-based program to one of a more formal paradigm starting the day with set tasks.
I had noticed this happening and asked why the change? The teachers felt that to get through the content they moved the play to later in the day. They had found that by starting the day with play wasn’t working as well as it did last year. This year the children didn’t want to stop playing and didn’t want their play items to be packed up. The change to more formality also coincided with the much younger children associated with the Same First Day Start policy change. The children “arced up” and behavior and engagement issues abounded.
To cut a long story short, Emma and Elizabeth checked with me if it would be ok to revert to a play- based program with simultaneous documentation and teaching moments seized as the two teachers worked in tandem. It was an magnificent, insightful strategy to deal with a “herding cats’ type dilemma. Immediately, the veil of confusion and stress lifted (and that was only for the teachers!) My reflection was that the teachers always had my permission. However it was a delight to have the privilege of being part of this learning.
Since then the classes have gone from strength to strength for children, teachers and families. Their class blog reflects this wonderful learning.