I have already learned so much over the last week. Thanks to Marc Armitage for giving me the confidence to know that for the most part, we really need to stay out of the play and just tune into what is going on. I had started to get there last year, but his words have given me that last bit of confidence to just let go.
What we have noticed this week is how little we are needed and how with the different mixture of urges in the class, the play has changed from last year. We have a lot of children with connection urges, so the items that largely went unused on our shelves last year have been out in force.
We have spent the week realising how deep and rich the play already is, and how little attention the children pay to us. We can be standing just a few steps away and they don't even notice us. It allows us to tune into conversations, take note of vocab being used, notice the urges, interests and be able to write rich (but short) reflections on the children that include the dispositions being used.
They come to us, just to affirm what they are doing, just to really reflect them, to quickly share, then they are off again. They may invite us in, but on their terms and often only for a short time and for the novelty of it all.
It has allowed me to see how much the environment provokes and just how little as teachers we need to be doing to provoke this play. In fact I can quite happily tell you I did nothing out of the ordinary this week and had the pleasure of taking part in some beautifully rich reflections where children were inspired by the big ideas of each other.
In terms of my role, well it was one of pulling all the ends together, finding connections, drawing attention to dispositions, finding moments to allow children to grow socially and emotionally, promote kindness, writing up class learning stories in our scrapbook and taking photos to share. Our scrapbook is already really full, I have allowed myself the time to notice so much and children the freedom to play without the intrusion of an adult. I truly am starting to feel like I have the ability to 'see' the power of the play and have come to a place where I trust that the learning will spill out...the play is the learning and the children are the curriculum.
|We've opened up our space a lot this year|
|A koru pattern, inspired by the art of his big brother|
|A wonderful story written about this in our journal because of the problem solving I was able to just stand back and watch.|
Our place feels so relaxed, it is full of joy, excitement, imagination, creativity, cooperation, kindness, empowerment, negotiation and moments to learn from each other. Thanks to Marc Armitage I have taken the time to watch for children starting play independently, continuing it independently and ending it independently. Such a great measure of a child in a play-based environment.
Because we keep children developmentally I also have the privilege to see that shift in the children we have already spent 6 months to a year with. It allows me the confidence to deeply know them and understand how we desperately need our system to gain more understanding about developmental progress in children. I have also come to trust in myself, that I am getting it right, I am understanding children more deeply, discarding the need to worry about age and having the insight to engage with children individually.
I love this way of working, I truly love education in this form and my deepest wish is that every child across NZ had the right to experience school in this way.
The mind map below captures what our path has been so far.
The reality is, if we are to get this play thing right, we have to realise that they just don't need us as much as sometimes we'd like them to, and that is absolutely wonderful!