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Dr Alma Fleet presents ‘What’s pedagogy anyway?’ – a professional learning series

Honorary associate professor Alma Fleet delivered a presentation ‘what’s pedagogy anyway?’ to educators and staff. This learning focused on using pedagogical documentation to engage with the Early Years Learning Framework. You can watch the presentation below.

What's pedagogy anyway? full video

Video transcript

Alma Fleet:    00:00:00    Okay, here we are. This is fun. I'm absolutely delighted that you've all my day effort to get here. It was not easy getting here tonight. It wouldn't have been anyway after a hard day's work, but with the rain and the traffic and trees down and so on.

Alma Fleet:    00:00:15    But to start out, I also want to pay my respect to the traditional custodians of the land that we're on, people of the past, elders and the leaders of the future and any aboriginals or Torres Strait Islanders that we have with us this evening. I think we owe a great debt to the people who've lived on this land before us, who understood ways of learning and being that we're only really just beginning to understand now, that there's a depth to it that we need to understand better. So any opportunities to do that I think is wonderful.

Alma Fleet:    00:00:49    I'd also like to thank anybody who's contributed to my thinking. I don't make all this stuff up myself, that list of books is all kind of embarrassing, but I have lots of really good friends. And every time I do something like this I learn something new. So I learn as much from you, as with any luck, you'll learn the same thing because you're all special people. The work you're doing is the most important work there is. You're responsible for your own children, other people's children, yourselves, their family's, links with the community. It's extraordinary. And to get yourself here in the middle of all that, woo, I love that. So thank you for that.

Alma Fleet:    00:01:24    I'd also like to thank colleagues in Reggio Emilia. If you've never heard of it, don't worry about it, it's a little town in Italy. But there are some very, very clever people there who are doing very insightful work, which mostly has to do with listening to children rather than talking at them. It's a section of Italy that was absolutely devastated by the Second World War and the people there decided that whatever was happening in education wasn't working. If the only solution was to go around killing each other, which is what they did, it wasn't working. And so women, mostly women, and old men, because all the young ones were dead, awful war situation there, set about and started their own version of an educational approach in the mid '40s. And with the help of a gentleman who happened to be riding by on his bicycle, Malaguzzi, he was just passing by in the Italian way, he stopped to see what these women were doing in the field chatting and they said they were planning on a school, and he said, "You can't just do a school," and they said they could. And he said, "You need money," and they gestured around them at the cattle and the tanks that have been left behind and said, "We'll sell them."

Alma Fleet:    00:02:45    And he said, "Yes, but you need teachers." And they said, "We'll find one," and bless their socks they did, and he worked with them until his death in about 1993, to come up with an approach to education, which is influencing people around the world. Nobody else can do exactly what they do or would want to do exactly what they do, they're Italian, they're somewhere else, they have another culture. But the principles are really helpful for us because what they're saying is, "Hey guys, if we actually try to be present with children and really listened to them, they will learn more, we will learn more, and we become co-researchers with children." And that's one of the messages I'll be sharing with you tonight is that you didn't realize it perhaps, but we are all co-researchers with children unless you're just doing crowd control. And I hope that's not the case. If you're just doing crowd control, I don't think you would've worked all day, gone out in the rain and gotten yourself here. So let's assume you're all really interested in the children you're working with, and I think that's fantastic.

Alma Fleet:    00:03:53    I also want to thank the organising committee, Rebecca and her colleagues, and the folk who kindly pay us money. That's really nice because that means then that you don't need to, and we appreciate that. That's good. Yeah, thank the department. Okay.

Alma Fleet:    00:04:09    All right. What I'd like us to do next then is just remind you what I was asked to do. I don't know why you're here, you might've just wanted to see your friends and get a free meal, but why I'm here is that I was asked to share some ideas about pedagogical documentation. Now, that might be a stumbling block right there because you might not know what the word pedagogy is. Interestingly, if you had grown up in Scandinavia, you would know automatically because you wouldn't have had educators or teachers, you would have worked with pedagogues. The word in Europe is used differently than the way it's used here. It simply means the intersection of teaching and learning. So the study of teaching and learning, anything that ends in -ogy as the study of something psychology, the study of the psyche, pedagogy, the study of teaching learning, which fits in that little word. It's a miracle, language. It just does that. Okay, so that's pedagogy.

Alma Fleet:    00:05:11    Documentation. Okay. You know what documentation is, you take your role, you make lists of things for the shops, you record people who are sick. That's documentation. It is not pedagogical because it does not contribute to an understanding of teaching and learning. So what we're talking about tonight is a way of working, everyday working, nothing special, nothing additional, a way of working and rethinking the way you record, not more, different, to help you understand the children you're working with, yours or somebody else's, better to be able to inform what you're going to do next. It informs your learning design, your planning cycle, what you're going to do tomorrow. So it's a way of thinking very professionally about the work that you do. There's a lot of misunderstanding about what is actually meant by pedagogical documentation and we'll chip away at that as we go through.

Alma Fleet:    00:06:08    All right. And all you folk who are looking after children in all sorts of difficult circumstances, well done.

Alma Fleet:    00:06:18    Now what we're going to do, explaining a little bit about why we're doing pedagogical documentation. I've just done that bit. I'm going to remind you about how the early years learning framework fits into the scene. Some of you know that very well. Others who are newer to this sector may not be quite so sure and a little reminder never goes astray. We're going to be talking about this relationship between just documenting and documenting pedagogically. I'm going to share an example with you. You're going to share some thinking amongst yourselves, you're going to try, you're going to have a go at something and then we're going to talk a little bit more about what is meant by practitioner inquiry, which is just simply, as Rebecca said, you people looking at your practice, thinking more about it, learning from it and doing something different. It's part of this notion of being a researcher in your practice.

Alma Fleet:    00:07:09    Okay. Now the key learning, if you are ticking this off on a formal piece of professional development, under the umbrella of the EYLF, participants will gain a greater understanding of the nature and role of pedagogical documentation in the work of family daycare. And I did this one early before I realized that we also had respite care and guardians, so my apologies. And that the links between recording and learning for both adults and children will become more apparent.

Alma Fleet:    00:07:38    As I listen to myself, which I do, it's really quite weird. It's like an out of ghost kind of thing. I'm always reminded how fast I talk. I'm aware that for many of you English is a second or other language. Do not hesitate to stick your hand up and ask me to slow down or to say it again. I don't mind. It happens all the time. I get very excited. My adult children get embarrassed and they tell me to stop at restaurants stop. "Mom, stop. Ssh. Ssh." I'm used to it. It's fine. But I do get excited and I talk fast, and I'll try to slow down. Okay. Good. So it's not just you, nobody else can understand me either. It's fine.

Alma Fleet:    00:08:23    All right. Now the question is, do you have to do pedagogical documentation? Well, no, really no. By that name, it's the language. The language varies. So, what is it you're supposed to do? You have to have evidence based practice. Evidence based practice. In other words, there has to be something besides your personal opinion. There has to be something written down, something concrete, something which is evidence, which demonstrates that you're doing what you're supposed to be doing. So that respects children, you have something to share with other families, you need substance as the basis of planning, I've already referred to that. And when you physically have photos and explanations, children love to revisit their work and you get more depth out of the experience. You don't just keep putting out separate things and turn yourself into a circus master. It's not just entertainment. It's an opportunity to go back and revisit and revisit and revisit and explore things differently. Not boring children to death, but providing other provocations and seeing what it is that's perplexing them about whatever it is, and then offering something a little different. It becomes a more informed cycle of planning than some of the traditional ways of working. So, why wouldn't you do it now?

Alma Fleet:    00:09:44    Now, the key to the exercise is valuing children's perspectives, both in their interactions and in recording little everyday events and ongoing investigations. So when we get to our example, you'll see that I'm talking about standing in children's shoes. You're trying to see what on earth might all of this look like to them. Of course, we don't know. We don't know what's in the head of our partners for having sakes. We don't know. We're guessing all the time. We're just guessing. But historically, educators have pretended that adults knew what children wanted and were interested in. Maybe a little bit, but not much. Every child's different, you know that. Every child is different. And what we're trying to do is see where they're coming from, particularly if they're difficult, particularly if they're difficult or if they have additional needs. Then we have to work a little bit harder to say, okay, where are they coming from? What is what is actually informing this sort of strange behaviour that I'm seeing? We have to assume that something is happening for the child. The child is not wrong. They might be behaving rather badly, but they're not wrong. There's something going on which is impacting on the way they are acting. And what we're trying to do is to figure out what's going on for them in their world. All right. So in terms of what you have to do, evidence based practice, why? Because there is a regulation which says that informal settings, educators have to record each child's progress against the agreed program. That's it. Each child's progress against the agreed program, that's it. That's the only seven legal words in this whole exercise. Anything else that people ask you to do is because an employer has agreed that it would be helpful for you to record whatever it is in whatever way it is. But if any of your colleagues say to you, "Oh, you have to keep a daybook and you have to keep a reflection book, and you have to keep a record of, and you have to keep up a and you have to keep a..." No, you don't. That's it. The law says every child's progress against the agreed program, full stop. And then the department of course, because they have an accountability agenda, puts a few more little hoops around that that you need to jump through. But be careful of assuming what it is you have to do because people mislead each other sometimes about how much has to be written or what has to be in it and so on. And your various consultants around the place can help you with that if you have a specific question.

Alma Fleet:    00:12:21    All righty, Alan Turing. And if you don't know the name, there are a couple of really cool movies out there that will help you understand what it was like for some British scientists who were trying to work on codes in the Second World War to figure out what sorts of messages we're going back and forth around the place. And this was one of his statements.

Alma Fleet:    00:12:43    All right, so where does this idea of pedagogical documentation come from? It's inspired by, but not copying the work of the educators in Reggio Emilia, but it also builds on solid Australian early childhood practice. And, what are the key points here? Authentic interactions. So it's not artificial. It's not filling in workbook pages. It's genuine everyday conversations, and play, and investigation. Respectful relationships, so it's not hurting [inaudible 00:00:13:14]. It's not just a power thing. You're actually treating children as humans. Meaningful curriculum, so you're doing something that's worthwhile. You're not just squeezing up little yellow things and putting them on paper and saying it stays daisies and saying let's hope spring will come soon. That is not meaningful. They don't look like daisies anyway.

Alma Fleet:    00:13:35    And the three-part planning circle. And many of you have studied this, it comes by different names, but it's same as it ever was, whoa, for a long time. You see something, you think about it, you do something, you evaluate it. Observation, interpretation, implication, evaluation and around again. And whatever you found out goes around again. The piece that keeps getting missed is the evaluation, and pedagogical documentation gives you the evidence around which it's easier to actually demonstrate that you've seen what's going on and you've done something about it and children have responded to it, so your evaluation is more meaningful. Okay, that's good.

Alma Fleet:    00:14:25    Now, how does this sit in the overall? And I know many of you are very familiar with this, but just in case you're not. Okay, so we start off with that national law and the regulations, those seven very important little words. There's more in it than that but the rest of it's pretty boring really. Okay. Then that's underneath the Australian early childhood education and care policy, the national quality framework, people refer to it as the NQF. Do not mix up the NQF with the NQS. If you speak too quickly, it sounds like the same thing and people mix it up and it is not the same thing. The framework includes other bits. One of the other bits is the standard, the national quality standards. The national quality standard, and this sounds pathetic people but bare with me, does not have an S on the end. National quality standard, which includes a set of standards with S. But the NQS... It doesn't matter? No? Okay, fine.

Alma Fleet:    00:15:28    Now, we're particularly interested in quality area one. So there each of these, there are seven quality areas there. They are all important and they all intersect. But the bit that we're talking about that has to do with programming and planning and evaluation sits under one. Okay. And underneath that then is the early years learning framework. So it is not part of the law, it is a guideline. Everything in it is advisory. There's a bit in each section in the back that says add your own. So if you look at something you're trying to achieve, there are indicators there. Think what the word indicator means, it gives you an idea of how something might be accomplished. It's an indication. It's an indicator.

Alma Fleet:    00:16:15    And then it says, are there other ways, it doesn't quite say it like this but it implies, are there other ways in which you might see this particular outcome being demonstrated in your place with the children you're working with, with the cultures they come from, and the life circumstances that they're currently in? How else might that outcome look? Write it in. There's a space in the document. It is remarkably user friendly, but it's also much more complex than people remember. If you haven't looked at it in a while, you need to go back because the first 17 pages are more important than all the stuff at the back. The first 17 pages talk about why, it's the philosophy, it's the principles, it's the practices. Of course you need to know the outcomes, but hey, that doesn't take many words either. The little things that sit underneath it will look different in every situation.

Alma Fleet:    00:17:11    So those are all the areas. They all intersect. We know where they sit. And if you've temporarily forgotten what they all are and how they work, the ACECQA website is excellent. The ACECQA website, there's ACECQA, the quality assurance folk of whom we have some sort of representative, are just people. Perfectly nice people. Responsible for compliance, yes, but we'd like somebody to care. We're actually very lucky if you have somebody talking about compliance and you're anxious and it makes you feel nervous, think about the opposite. Whenever something makes you a little anxious, think about the opposite. The opposite is no rules, no regulations, children locked up in cattle pens with whatever's happening to them all day long. We need regulations and we need informed people to help us figure out how to deal with them. But there's just always a little bit of argy bargy about defining what we all mean by quality, and that can be negotiated. Absolutely fine. But we do love this whole framework, actually. You didn't know you did, but I'm telling you that you do.

Alma Fleet:    00:18:20    Right. Now the EYLF. There are your five outcomes. You know them. You can probably recite them. They're probably on your mirror or on the fridge. Be careful of just throwing the language around as if you know what they mean. Just pause on that first one, children have a strong sense of identity. I've just finished with colleagues editing a book, 12 chapters, people from around the world, unpacking multiple identities in early childhood. Families, educators, children. None of us are confident about our personal identity or who we are in a different situation. You're somebody different here than you are in a home or maybe in a church or a mosque or on the road.

Alma Fleet:    00:19:09    Our identity varies depending on who we're with, what the requirements are, what the situation is. So there is no point cutting and pasting... Children have a strong sense of identity. When Johnny draws a picture of himself. It's just you're kidding yourself. It's complicated. We want it to be complicated. We want to worry about it. We want to think, what does that actually mean? Does it mean that the child's developing a strong sense of wellbeing and is comfortable with other children and knows that he or she should be very proud of the language that they speak at home, the clothes his family wears? It's complicated. Fine, make it complicated. Talk about it, investigate it, look into it, but don't just jump to conclusions. People will struggle with identity most of their adult lives. We can't expect two, three and four-year-olds to know completely who they are. They're on a path and so on. We can do that same little speech about each of them, but we won't because we've got other things.

Alma Fleet:    00:20:17    The five principles that go with the EYLF. They are not separate. They overlap. So again, we could choose one of them. We could have a whole evening on one of them if we were so inclined. The first one is critical, secure, respectful, and reciprocal relationships. And you might ask yourself, and we'll get to this at the other end of the evening, how would you know if children entering your home felt secure about doing that? What would you see? What would you hear? What would tell you that there were respectful and reciprocal relationships in your place? What does it look like? What does it smell like? What does it sound like?

Alma Fleet:    00:21:04    What I'm challenging you to do is to get beyond the superficial. In education, we are very superficial. Sociology is worse if that cheers you up. But we use language, it's true, we use language as if everyone understood it and meant the same thing by it. That's simply not the case. These are very big concepts. They are very complex. They vary in different countries. They vary in different social classes. They vary in different suburbs. Fine. That's fact. Nothing wrong with it. It's just a fact. So we need to think about what does it actually mean for you in your place with your children. And try to tease that out and defend it to somebody else who says, "Oh, I don't know, there was an argument in schools way back. I remember very clearly when I was growing up, the children were supposed to have their sandwiches in plastic," the equivalent of GLAD wrap or bags, and half of the children-

PART 1 OF 3 ENDS [00:22:04]

Alma Fleet:    00:22:03    ... of glad wrap or bags. And half of the children brought their sandwiches in paper, wrapped in paper. And there was this huge argument about sandwiches in paper versus sandwiches in plastic. Surely people have more important things to do with their time. If you happen to have paper, you have paper. If you have plastic, you have plastic. It is a silly rule. You have to think about where rules come from and why people do what they do.

Alma Fleet:    00:22:29    Another example about ... totally unrelated, but just thought of it, when we assume we know what's going on for a family. My dear friends and colleagues at Mia Mia Child and Family Center in Sydney, they're a part of the Institute of Early Childhood at Macquarie University, some of the staff were getting very concerned about a little guy who they thought should be crawling. They'd had this child with them since he was very young and he was not crawling. And they worried about what they're going to do about it and they tried all sorts of things. And then they finally had the conversation with the family and the family was absolutely appalled that the educators wanted this child to be on the ground because they had emigrated not that long ago from a place with snakes and children were not put on the ground, excuse me, until they were old enough to run from a snake.

Alma Fleet:    00:23:22    I mean, think about the things that we assume are normal. It's my least favourite world in the whole world, normal. Who wants to be normal anyway? I'm not normal. Do you want to be normal? Silly. I understand where the term comes from, that people are on either end of some kind of a spectrum. I understand that. But normal varies. Normal varies depending on who you are, where you're from, what the circumstances are. And so, we have to be very careful when we are assessing or evaluating children, what standard we're using to make those decisions. And there needs to be consultation with families and other experts around the place. Of course there might be something that requires another specialist or that's causing concern. Definitely follow up. Ask but ask, don't just assume. All right.

Alma Fleet:    00:24:15    And the rest of them you're just going to have to deal with or I'll be here all night. My family won't let me talk in public so you're very lucky. I just keep going and going and going. Now then, it's worse if you ask me about family history, they just run up and they cut me off mid sentence. " Don't talk to her about that. No, no. Come on, let me get you a cup of tea." Very embarrassing.

Alma Fleet:    00:24:37    All right now, so the key message from the [EYLF 00:24:40] page 17. I told you the first 17 pages, 17 is my favourite. If you haven't looked at it, it's free download. Honestly, just put it on your desktop, when you're really bored have a little look at the EYLF. Assessment for children's learning refers to, this is a direct quote, this is a direct quote, the process of gathering and analyzing information. You don't just get it. You have to do something with it. Gathering and analyzing. And what are you getting? You're not listing all the things they cannot do and how many times Johnny bit Mary. No, no, no, no. It might be annoying, but that's not what you're doing.

Alma Fleet:    00:25:17    What you're doing is looking at what children know, can do, and understand. And that is the most extraordinary phrase in a federal document. It's a guideline. It's not a law. But it's a complete reversal about what almost all of us, depending if you went to a really nice alternative school it might not have been the case, but almost all of us had the reverse. People were interested in what we didn't know, couldn't do, and didn't understand. That is a deficit orientation. Deficit, negative. We have permission to focus on what children know, can do, and understand. That is a completely different philosophy from what was in place before and I don't think a lot of people have caught up with the fact that this is 190 degrees from where education was sitting two decades ago. Very cool. It's part of an ongoing cycle. And this I've already referred to, planning, documenting, and evaluating learning.

Alma Fleet:    00:26:22    Okay, so when we record, why are we documenting? Okay, you have to have a quick chat at your table. If you haven't met each other, please identify your name and where you're from. And I want you to come up with at least three reasons, maybe five. Why do we record? Why are we documenting? Quick talk.

Alma Fleet:    00:26:42    Beautiful. Okay. I put down some as well. They're all fine. I'm sure you all have more out there, but you need to know why you're documenting. Unless you know why you're recording, you're probably wasting time. You need to think about the reason that you're taking the time to record whatever you're recording. And you've mentioned most of these. Educators will have records of learners experiences, their creativity, and their evolving thinking. That doesn't mean testing knowledge. Children will have memory as a springboard and the comment about it's fun to share with children leads to that. Exactly right. You go back into the photograph or I heard you say this last week and they're back into that experience and they bounce off again. We say that children have short memories. No, they don't. Only things that we want them to remember, they don't remember. What they want to remember, they remember perfectly well. Okay, data as a basis for planning.

Alma Fleet:    00:27:41    And this one I like, and it might not have dawned on you, the unexpected can challenge assumptions. I want us to begin to look for things which we did not expect and therefore do not understand. We have to stop being so sure of ourselves that we know what's happening with children. We do not. We have a general idea, but the unexpected happens all the time and it might be one child being friendly with somebody who isn't usually friendly or somebody coming up with vocabulary who doesn't usually speak or somebody's lying down to have a rest who's usually just racing around the place. The unexpected can happen all the time. All right.

Alma Fleet:    00:28:23    And then you can debate possibilities with other people. And when I put this up, Rebecca was not confident about this because she said, "Yes, but many people don't have colleagues." And I said, "You all have colleagues. Look at this room. They are 90 people in here for heavens sake." Exchange a few emails if you don't know who to talk to. You can share information with other people about what's going on in your place. You do not need to be isolated unless you choose to be. There are people around who are happy to support and you need something to talk to them about. And so, this material gives you something to share. And then we've mentioned families and we've mentioned the need for accountability.

Alma Fleet:    00:29:01    All right, so quick check again on what we're talking about. Ped Doc, sometimes abbreviated, it's more casual, is not a checklist of outcomes. It's not just a photo record of the day's events. That is a scrapbook. It is not just a record of skills and content taught, but it needn't be an additional form of record keeping. We're talking about something that includes analysis. That is the difference. We're looking at something which is unexpected, which is more interesting, which is richer. It could actually include all of those other things if you wanted it to. It's a big blurry animal. It's not one specific thing. It's a way of being. It's a way of working. It's a philosophy. And we're going to just deal with little bits of it so that it's manageable. But it's really quite a comfortable concept, pedagogical documentation, because it's informing, teaching and learning, which is helping you understand children better. It's good. We like that.

Alma Fleet:    00:30:03    So, you could be including any of these things, the anecdotal records, the kinds of things you're doing anyway, photos taken by adults and photos by children are especially fascinating. If you're able to have disposable cameras or have access to photography. Children are very adept at technology. They're better than we are on the whole, and they learn faster and they're remarkable about sensing the capacities of the tools. I have a colleague who's just graduated with a PhD, asked children who are two and three to take photographs of things that interested them in their environment. And at first glance people would say, "Oh, they didn't know how to use the camera," because it shoes and it's grass and it's a branch of a tree. But if you sit with them and have them draw what's important ... because that's revisiting, go back, ask children to draw or build, whatever it is they're trying to tell you, particularly if they speak a different language from yours, you can find out they actually are fascinated by trees or grass or branches and that's exactly what they wanted to take a picture of. Different things engage children from what engages adults. They see the world from a different place and so the photographs that children take are absolutely fascinating. They're not lined up the way an adult will do, but if you can figure out what they're looking for, it's really interesting.

Alma Fleet:    00:31:29    Artifacts. That's concrete things like drawings or built structures. Might be work in progress. Some people use iPads for videos or films of exploration on events if you've got permission from the families to do that. Recorded conversation, little bits of conversations. It could just be notes on a little notepad to keep in your pocket or it could be audio recorded on your phone to go back and listen to what's actually going on, because there's always so much going on in a household or in a site that you miss things because the phone rings or something else happens around the place.

Alma Fleet:    00:32:03    There'll be input from family members and there's also feedback from children when you share the data. When you explain to them that you've got this whole group of photos of what people were doing last week, can they tell you more about it? "Yes. We were being friends." And you thought, "Ah, I thought they were building a tower." What we think we're seeing might not be what we're seeing at all. And sometimes they can't tell you and the youngest ones can't tell you obviously. But by re-engaging in something they are demonstrating if they're interested.

Alma Fleet:    00:32:37    So, I'm going to give you a quick example here. And I'm going to use toddlers, even though most of you are not necessarily working with toddlers, because this is gaining insight into nonverbal children. And many of you are working with children who speak a language that you don't speak. So, it's useful to think about children who you don't necessarily understand, maybe because they're young, maybe because they don't choose to speak when they're with you, or maybe because they speak a different language. So, we're talking about hearing children's voices and people write about child voice, the importance of including child voice. That is virtually any evidence about the child's perspective. It's not necessarily what they say. It might be what they've done. If they always reach for your hand, they're seeking connection. That is a child's voice. And so, it's a phrase that's like a metaphor for connection. All right? By activating the child's voice as part of a listening pedagogy .... and I've already said we're trying to listen more to children. Practitioners build on this by placing listening at the centre. And this is in a an excerpt from an English educator in a very nice book about children's perspectives, which is part of that six volume series that we've just finished. I want you to think about Charlie. This is an excerpt of a piece of pedagogical documentation. Ped Doc is not just a product, it's also the process. But let's, for the moment, just consider it to be this story. Charlie found a funnel. He added sand into the top and he looked in and he watched as it disappeared. He then added more sand and he held it up to watch the sand flowing through. At one point he added sand and it did not flow through. He looked in the top again, held it up to look at the other end, tipped it upside down, tried again. This time it worked. "Just playing." You are seeing, thinking, okay? Now, I want you to decide what steps just Charlie take which demonstrate that he's learning to hypothesize and think like a scientist. Look again. Say if you can find 10 steps and then wonder about what might happen next. There you go. Two minutes. Count.

Alma Fleet:    00:35:10    Okay. Number one, what happens first? Anybody yell.

Audience:    00:35:16    Finds the funnel.

Alma Fleet:    00:35:16    Finds the funnel. Beautiful. Two?

Audience:    00:35:21    Adds sand.

Alma Fleet:    00:35:23    Adds sand. Three?

Audience:    00:35:24    [crosstalk].

Alma Fleet:    00:35:24    They're two separate steps. Looked in. Watched. Okay? The sand goes through. Next?

Audience:    00:35:36    Added sand.

Alma Fleet:    00:35:38    Added sand. Next?

Audience:    00:35:42    [crosstalk].

Alma Fleet:    00:35:42    Looked. Stopped. Then? Other end.

Audience:    00:35:49    [crosstalk].

Alma Fleet:    00:35:50    Then?

Audience:    00:35:51    [crosstalk].

Alma Fleet:    00:35:51    Then?

Audience:    00:35:51    [crosstalk].

Alma Fleet:    00:35:59    It's astounding, isn't it? Because that kind of thing happens all the time. "Just playing." But if you take a different perspective and you step back and you think, there is a scientist emerging here, this child is learning problem solving. And if we think about the dispositions, increasingly we're being encouraged to do dispositions, that we look at things like persistence and resilience, problem solving. These are skills which are being taught in high school and increasingly they're showing up with the youngest children. They do it automatically. We're just not used to seeing it. And what we need to do is to see it so that we can then celebrate it, share it with families, and have more of it happen. And you might've had a little think about what might happen next, but you might not have thought of this one. Elsa was nearby and observed Charlie as he held the funnel, watching the sand falling through. Charlie brought the funnel to an educator and held it out as he demonstrated his discovery. These children are pre-verbal. The educator put out a hand for the sand and then asked Charlie if they could put it in the top. And he nodded. They did. Elsa approached Charlie and the educator to join in the interaction. She placed her hand under the funnel to catch the sand and put it in the top. After a few turns, she and Charlise swapped roles. We could do it again. Again, there are like those 10 steps.

Alma Fleet:    00:37:32    So, what do we actually see? So, think about three things that you might write about Charlie's investigation to analyze what you've seen. And some of you have already been doing that. What theories does he have that he's investigating? Is there evidence of the social construction of knowledge? Vygotsky, Russian, dead. If you've forgotten about Vygotsky, he is the one who got us all thinking about the social construction of knowledge, i.e. We learn more if we're working ... he said a lot of other things too, but we learn more through interaction and scaffolding learning together than we do independently. So, do you see any evidence of the social construction of knowledge? What's something you can conclude about Elsa from this encounter? What might you do next on the basis of these reflections? Discussing and writing down these thoughts converts a record into pedagogical documentation. So, I'll give you the excerpt again and I'll give you the questions again. You might just choose one or two to be able to answer.

Alma Fleet:    00:38:46    Elsa was nearby and observed Charlie as he held the funnel, watching the sand falling through. Charlie brought the funnel to an educator, held it out as he demonstrated his discovery. The educator put out a hand for the sand and then asked Charlie if they could put it in the top. He nodded. They did. Elsa approached Charlie and the educator to join the interaction. She placed her hand under the funnel to catch the sand, put it in the top. After a few turns she and Charlie swapped role. Okay. Choose at least two of them. Four minutes. Talk, think, work.

Alma Fleet:    00:39:19    Okay, we're not going to go through each of these because I'm going to assume that each of you have seen something interesting, but I would love to know if anybody has any ideas about what theories Charlie might be investigating?

Audience:    00:39:31    Movement, gravity.

Alma Fleet:    00:39:33    Movement, gravity.

Audience:    00:39:36    Sensory.

Alma Fleet:    00:39:36    Try. The sensory feel of things might be something he has to think about what that then tells him. That's part of the tool that he's using to investigate something. That is a sensory experience but the theory is going to be something intellectual and not something something tangible. Does that make sense? Sort of. Okay. A theory will be an idea about something, helping him to understand something that he didn't understand before. A sensory experience just means that it's been touched or felt or heard. That defines the experience, not the ideas that the child has about the experience. Do you see that difference? So that when one theory was gravity, he's exploring potentially what draws things down. Okay. What might be another one?

Audience:    00:40:40    Cause and effect.

Alma Fleet:    00:40:41    Cause and effect. When one thing happens, something else results. He's checking if I do this, then that. Okay? He's testing that. A hypothesis. Remember I said he might have a hypothesis, that's a guess about what might happen next. That's what scientists do. They get a hypothesis. I think this cheese is going to go mouldy if I leave it out long enough and it's going to turn blue and maybe if I do something with it, it'll cure penicillin. Okay? That's a hypothesis and a scientist has to investigate that. You have a theory that if this happens, it's cause and effect, then that might happen. And the youngest children do it. We just don't see it. Have another guess. Guess wildly. I don't mind. Except I just can't hear you.

Audience:    00:41:33    Shape, form, and volume.

Alma Fleet:    00:41:35    Okay. Something about shape, something about form, something about volume. Now some of you are aware that the schools are all going crazy at the moment about STEM, science, technology, engineering, mathematics. That's what that is. That's exploring volume and shape and size. Somebody said motion before. Point A to point B. What makes something go from point A to point B? So, what else might he be thinking about in that exploration?

Audience:    00:42:03    Speed.

Alma Fleet:    00:42:09    Speed, potentially. Slowness, fastness. Could make a difference on different grains of sand. Any one of those things. Okay. Something that you conclude about Elsa from this encounter?

Audience:    00:42:22    Curious.

Alma Fleet:    00:42:23    She's curious. Disposition of curiosity. Curiosity is a disposition and that is showing it being enacted. You are seeing curiosity. What else does it tell us about Elsa?

Audience:    00:42:37    [crosstalk].

Alma Fleet:    00:42:39    I cannot tell you how deaf I am. Sorry?

Audience:    00:42:41    [inaudible 00:42:42].

Alma Fleet:    00:42:44    They're researching the same thing. Okay, so this is going along into collaborative play, which the old school, those of you who ever studied developmentally appropriate practice, said happened at age three. Never was the case. It was just that some lab schools somewhere in America, some child started doing it at three. Two year olds, and these guys are just under two, are perfectly able to work together on something if it is of interest to them. Okay. Sorry? What are you trying to tell me?

Audience:    00:43:16    She's patient.

Alma Fleet:    00:43:18    She's patient. That is another disposition. She is demonstrating patience. And so, if you are reporting back to a family at the end of the day that through a scientific experiment today, Elsa demonstrated patience and curiosity, they would be gobsmacked. They'd be absolutely rapt that there was a scientist developing in what they're doing, not just playing, not just, "She had a lovely day." But it means that we need to get better at seeing, thinking, and recognize that children are thinking from the very youngest age. Okay, now what? 

Alma Fleet:    00:44:03    The turn taking here is another one. If you're challenging developmentally appropriate practice. Again, children under three, theoretically, in the old school don't take turns. They do. Babies turn take. Babies turn take with adults. It just wasn't something that was recognised. In this swapping roles, there's this mythology about two year olds being so greedy and holding on to things. These kids are happily swapping roles because of the respect they have for each other and the environment that they're working in. They know they're going to get a turn. They're not going to miss out. So, yes, she can be patient.

Alma Fleet:    00:44:40    All right, so seeing something about engagement with the environment, the environment has been inviting. Problem solving. It's the social construction of knowledge, because these children are working together with an educator. There are three players here to see what is happening with the sand and persistence, resilience, curiosity. Now, everything needs to be dated, because it will change from day to day and week to week. Each of your observations needs to have a date on it, and it has to have a little wondering, a little analysis, a little explanation about what you think is actually going on. It can't be wrong. It's a guess. Okay?

Alma Fleet:    00:45:24    You're just trying to think about, "I wonder what's going on here", so you're not just recording it. For it to be pedagogical documentation, you need to go one step farther. It's not just a record. You have to think about it and think, "What does this tell me and how might that impact on what I do next?" Okay, that makes sense. The educators in Reggio Emilia, we've always maintained that children have their own questions and theories and that they negotiate their theories with others. Our duty as teachers is to listen to the children just as we ask them to listen to one another. Listening means giving value to others, being open to them and what they have to say.

Alma Fleet:    00:46:04    Now, something else that we do with this work is to give it titles, because we want to think, "What is it? Why have we bothered writing up this piece?" It must be something that's important enough to bother putting this time into it. It's not just ticking off whether they ate their vegetables. You're putting time to put this narrative together. Okay? What is it that actually attracted your attention? What's going on here? What's worth thinking more about? What might we revisit with these children? What are we not yet, you know, imagine about where these children are living in their heads.

Alma Fleet:    00:46:39    I try to encourage people to do two part titles. If you're just beginning, it doesn't matter, but a two part title means, so if we've been playing with rocks and volcanoes, we don't just call it volcanoes. We say, "Exploring geography, dot, dot, volcanoes in the sandpit." By dot, dot, I mean, it's a colon. You know, you have little two dots next to each other that separates two half of the title. This part tells you what's going on in that part.

Alma Fleet:    00:47:07    It doesn't matter what's going on in each half of the title, but one half should be really interesting and invite you in. It should be inviting and the other half is going to be more informational. Yes, playing in the sandpit, building volcanoes. All right, you can't be wrong. A title can't be wrong for heaven's sakes, but you're letting people know what it is that you think was interesting about that sequence, and it's usually a sequence. It's not a one-off thing usually. It's usually a sequence of events or experiences that caught your attention.

Alma Fleet:    00:47:41    Two minutes, title this sequence with Charlie and Elsa.

Alma Fleet:    00:47:46    Okay. Yeah, a lot of you are wanting to use sand play. Fine. Sand Play: Scientists At Work.

Audience:    00:47:58    Collaborative Work: Exploring Through Sand.

Alma Fleet:    00:48:00    Beautiful. Okay. Yeah. Having a go at both halves. What was your second half? Funnel fun? Yep. Okay. One half here was funnel fun. Dot. Dot. And you could say more than pouring, for example. They're not just having a good time. What we're trying to let people, of course they are, and we want them to have a good time, but we want people to see the children actually learn all the time. We just don't necessarily recognize it as learning. So funnel fun, dot, dot, learning about gravity.

Alma Fleet:    00:48:48    Exploring motion, dot, dot. So you're trying to think what is going on here? And then you're trying to put a label on it. You can change your mind tomorrow. I'm a doesn't matter. And they might do something else with it tomorrow. A third child might come and affect the interaction in some way, and I might be in the sand, dot, dot, learning to work together. You know, it might not be about science at all. And the next week it could be something else. And so it's just trying to understand what is actually going on in these everyday events, collecting the data, the evidence and then titling it, and then you're ending up with them documenting pedagogically. And that affects your planning. I notice as I go around, most of you are doing really well at writing little notes on your thinking sheet. I know that Rebecca said I'd give you time to do it, but you've all been too interesting, and I haven't. So there you go. You just need to do it. All right, this is just a flag to remind you. But what we're seeing here is a link between everyday experiences and assessment expectations. You don't have to set up specific experiences or activities to test the outcomes in the EYLF. They happen all the time. It's just learning to see them in everyday events, which makes your work far more interesting, I think.

Alma Fleet:    00:50:18    And you could unpack that, and this was an invitation for you to write, but I'm not going to give it to you, because we've tried to fit more in tonight and that has some little disadvantages. Now. What's pedagogy anyway? I'm going to invite you to deal with this in your own time. You all have it, but this unpacks the kinds of things I've been saying. Put it together with some friends and colleagues and it goes through exactly the sequence we've done in the workshop. All right, so there's a little piece written about what is it we're talking about with ped doc. Why should you be documenting?

Alma Fleet:    00:51:02    It depends who's the audience, who are you doing it for? Why are you recording? The family's role, and who's it for, and the relationship between ped doc and the EYLF. And then by page 16, what does ped doc look like? Masses of possibilities. There is not one thing that can be called pedagogical documentation. Some people use iPads, some people do photo books. Some people have evolving stories, a drama they act out and record, and so on. As long as there is analysis, there has to be an interpretation of what's going on, not just a description. This is getting the difference between a record and an analysis. It's not just a report of what's happened, it's why you think it's interesting, what's sitting around underneath it. What might the title be that would help us see that the children are learning something and exploring some dispositions in their ordinary everyday play?

Alma Fleet:    00:52:07    Okay. It says, where do you find the time? Well, you might have to do something differently. You stop doing something that's less productive, and you spend a little time more on something, which is helpful. So I often say to people to write less and think more, that you have to just stop for a minute and step back from what you're doing, and think what's actually going on here, and not just manage. Because if you're just managing the day, you're not going to see all these interesting things, and of course you have to do that as well. So it's balancing things, and you get better at it once you try. There's a little chat in here about theory which will help you a little bit, but that's a big one, I know, and there's a lovely example, and there are some references, and so on, to help you, so you might find that useful.

Alma Fleet:    00:52:54    Okay. I like these. You can find them on the web. They just make you feel good. This particular one is from an Oglala Sioux medicine man. Nice. Anyway, I've already mentioned my thoughts about normal. Now, how are you going to build on this learning? In principle, I would ask you to write something that you can do differently from tomorrow, but that's going to be homework, ladies and gentlemen. You're going to do it before you go to bed. Put on your pink fluffies, have a nice little hot toddy, and write up something you can do differently from tomorrow.

Alma Fleet:    00:53:32    Because what we're doing now, and you don't actually have this because we've added it, is learning alongside children. And this is the notion of practitioner inquiry, which is the sheet we've just given you. Practitioner inquiry is a good way to strengthen your knowledge about the children in your care and keeping records about their learning. And this is the sequence. I mentioned this in my introduction, so you knew what was coming. So you focus on something, you collect some information, you think about it, you then plan more effectively on the basis of what you were thinking.

Alma Fleet:    00:54:05    So for example, having seen Charlie and Elsa, what are you going to put out tomorrow? One you can put out exactly the same thing, and see what they do with it. It's going to depend on whether the sand is wet or dry. Other things that they can pour with, other things that encourage them to work together, because maybe it wasn't about the sand at all. Maybe they just want to spend time together, and so on. So whatever your analysis was, whatever your title was about what you thought they were doing, lets you think about what you're going to do next, whether you're focusing on the friendship, or the science, or the maths, the funnels, the actual feeling of the sand, what impact does that have on the way they planned that sensory experience? Okie dokie. That helps you design your learning and then you see what changes.

Alma Fleet:    00:54:56    Okay. Now this is going to lead into what you get to do for fun that Rebecca was talking about, and the folks out there who watched the film and who were invited, who came last time didn't get the explanation, because we thought about it later, quite frankly, that it would be useful, because people, we got really good feedback from the session last time from people who wanted to be able to have a go at exploring some of the things that we were talking about during the workshop, and that's what this lets you do. And when you all come back together again in probably late October, you will have seen something, you will have collected some information about something, and you're likely to say, "Now what?" It could be just like Charlie and Elsa. It can be a little something, and we'll talk then a little bit more about how we analyse data, or you can call it data, depends where you're from. Because that's what this is.

Alma Fleet:    00:55:52    This information is data. It's information which helps inform your work as a researcher. You are co- researching with children. Children are researching too. Okay. Let's have a quick look at this sheet. What does it tell you? And this is going to vary immensely depending on which children you're working with in what role. But it's something that everybody can do at any time. It doesn't even necessarily have to do with education, but it's just a way of thinking. So looking at our work through the lens of practitioner inquiry is a useful way to become more informed, right. So what do we do first? We have an attitude of curiosity and a commitment to ethical, respectful practice. Of course we do. We're not going to do things that put any children at a disadvantage, or in which we misuse the power that we have as an adult.

Alma Fleet:    00:56:50    Of course, those things have to come first. So then you focus on a niggle that's a little small area of concern, something that's just been bothering you a little bit, but something you'd like to understand a little bit more. And that can relate to any aspect of the day. It could be something inside, it could be outside morning, afternoon, something you don't know the answer to, but something that matters to you and that will have an impact for children. For example, you might wonder about how to better welcome and integrate a new child into your group, or you might be wondering what learning is taking place in the sandpit.

Alma Fleet:    00:57:23    That was the kind of example I shared with you. Or you might be anxious about one of the children's English language development. So having decided on a little niggle, just a little thing, don't get a huge thing. You cannot change the world overnight. Just a little something. You frame a question to guide your inquiry. Try to focus on the child, not what you would do, and this is what hangs up everybody. I've got colleagues who have been doing this with hundreds of people in lots of places, in lots of countries.

Alma Fleet:    00:57:53    Educators always want to frame the question into what can I do better? What can I do differently? That's not where this starts. This starts with what is the child doing? Okay, so I was asking you what was Charlie doing? What was Elsa doing? I didn't ask you what the educator was doing. That follows. That's next. But first of all, you've got to find out where the child is coming from, the child's perspective. What does it look like to them, for example. So with those niggles, the questions might be how does Luisa feel welcomed when she arrives in the morning? Not what do I do to welcome children into my place. It's the same thing, sort of, except we're trying to get the child's perspective. We're trying to step into the child's shoes. So you try to write your question from the point of view of the child.

Alma Fleet:    00:58:46    So how does Luisa feel welcomed when she arrives in the morning? Or how are Rafi and Joseph showing their learning in the sandpit? And that's the kind of example that I was sharing. Or when during the morning is Sophie expressing herself verbally? Because she speaks a separate language from you. She's mostly quiet. When is she actually verbal? So you try to write down a little time and whatever she says or does, because then you begin to see a pattern. And that's what you're trying to do is then begin to see a pattern. So while getting on with your regular day's activities, you look for opportunities to collect information to help understand the situation better. That's your data. Useful to keep your inquiry information together, some kind of a little notebook, something that you use as part of your regular work. Everything has to be dated and organized in some way.

Alma Fleet:    00:59:32    It doesn't have to be a lot, can be very short. It's the ordinary kind of thing you record. Do this instead of something else, not on top of something else. That's important. Okay? Your data might include photographs of children, or their building, or their artwork, short descriptions, records of work or conversation. Some people like to chart it, and make graphs, and do whatever. If you'd like to do that, that's absolutely fine. You don't have to, you don't have to do anything, quite frankly. This is all just whether you choose to engage in this little game we're playing. So with our examples you might think about how would you know what welcome looked like? So in your pocket notebook, you note every detail. What happens when this child arrives over several days. For example, she's greeted by name, she's greeted with a smile. There's a hello in her own language of other than English.

Alma Fleet:    01:00:20    Okay. That's three things you've already noticed that she might be seeing when she arrives. So you're breaking things down into very little steps. She sees something she likes and she's played with before, and that's what she's given before taking somewhere else. That's two more things, and so on. So this is like we did with Charlie. You're breaking down into very little steps to try to see what's actually happening in these everyday events that might lead to children's learning. In the next example, you ask Rafi and Joseph if it's okay to take some photos of them playing. Children usually agree. You then try a range of data collection strategies, maybe taking a picture once every five minutes as you walked past, or you sit with them for a while, just chatting, not instructing, and you make notes of what they say or do.

Alma Fleet:    01:01:04    "Build here." And they're both digging. "No." The bridge topples. "Here, use this," and so on. You write it down. You think. You look at it later, and you think, what was going on there? What was actually happening? That's the analysis bit. This is where you think about what it means or why it matters. There's no point collecting information if it's not useful. You have to pause, and you step back. What is this telling me? The thinking and data collection and recording and gathering information becomes part of pedagogical documentation. This all goes together. It's all in the same umbrella. You get a narrative of experience to share with the family. It's your story, or other support personnel you're working with, but you have to get the material out of your head and onto paper if you're going to have evidence based practice. Remember? We said that at the beginning that that's what you need. Evidence based practice.

Alma Fleet:    01:01:52    The children love to tell you more about what's going on in the photos. The families appreciate insight into the child's day, and you gain more information. So once you have an emerging narrative, try to give it a title that helps clarify the focus. What's sitting underneath? The two part title, something to invite interest, something that tells more about it. So for example, titles of these might be, Luis' might be smile for me, dot, dot, a sense of welcome. It could be a sense of welcome, dot, dot, smile for me. The two halves don't matter. It's just trying to have something that's inviting and something that's informing. Okay. Something that's invitational and something that's informational. Or being welcomed, dot, dot, having my favourite food. Just trying to think what does welcome look like to this child? That's what you are trying to collect information about.

Alma Fleet:    01:02:43    Whatever else you can think of, it can't be wrong. Might be uninteresting, but it can't be wrong. What about the boys? Well, maybe learning to get along, dot, dot, working together. All right. Or it could be building bridges, dot, dot, becoming engineers. Whatever you think is going on there. And then you watch over a couple of days, and maybe change your mind, maybe change your title, and whatever you find out helps children and strengthens your practice. I'm happy to talk with people afterwards, but if you're feeling a little bit overwhelmed about any of it, I love this. It's Martin Luther King, actually. "If you can't fly, run. If you can't run, walk. You can't walk, crawl. Just keep moving." Good luck with it. Thank you.

End of transcript.

You can also watch some short clips taken from the full video:

Introduction to Reggio Emilia

Acknowledging colleagues and the work that they do, focused on listening to children rather than talking at them:

Video transcript

Alma Fleet: I'd also like to thank colleagues in Reggio Emilia. If you've never heard of it, don't worry about it, it's a little town in Italy. But there are some very, very clever people there who are doing very insightful work, which mostly has to do with listening to children rather than talking at them. It's a section of Italy that was absolutely devastated by the Second World War and the people there decided that whatever was happening in education wasn't working. If the only solution was to go around killing each other, which is what they did, it wasn't working. And so women, mostly women, and old men, because all the young ones were dead, awful war situation there, set about and started their own version of an educational approach in the mid '40s. And with the help of a gentleman who happened to be riding by on his bicycle, Malaguzzi, he was just passing by in the Italian way, he stopped to see what these women were doing in the field chatting and they said they were planning on a school, and he said, "You can't just do a school," and they said they could. And he said, "You need money," and they gestured around them at the cattle and the tanks that have been left behind and said, "We'll sell them." And he said, "Yes, but you need teachers." And they said, "We'll find one," and bless their socks they did, and he worked with them until his death in about 1993, to come up with an approach to education, which is influencing people around the world. Nobody else can do exactly what they do or would want to do exactly what they do, they're Italian, they're somewhere else, they have another culture. But the principles are really helpful for us because what they're saying is, "Hey guys, if we actually try to be present with children and really listened to them, they will learn more, we will learn more, and we become co-researchers with children." And that's one of the messages I'll be sharing with you tonight is that you didn't realize it perhaps, but we are all co-researchers with children unless you're just doing crowd control.

Introducing the history of pedagogy

Talking about pedagogical documentation – what are the purposes and possibilities?:

Video transcript

Alma Fleet: I was asked to share some ideas about pedagogical documentation. Now, that might be a stumbling block right there because you might not know what the word pedagogy is. Interestingly, if you had grown up in Scandinavia, you would know automatically because you wouldn't have had educators or teachers, you would have worked with pedagogues. The word in Europe is used differently than the way it's used here. It simply means the intersection of teaching and learning. So the study of teaching and learning, anything that ends in -ogy as the study of something psychology, the study of the psyche, pedagogy, the study of teaching learning, which fits in that little word. It's a miracle, language. It just does that. Okay, so that's pedagogy. Alma Fleet: Documentation. Okay. You know what documentation is, you take your role, you make lists of things for the shops, you record people who are sick. That's documentation. It is not pedagogical because it does not contribute to an understanding of teaching and learning. So what we're talking about tonight is a way of working, everyday working, nothing special, nothing additional, a way of working and rethinking the way you record, not more, different, to help you understand the children you're working with, yours or somebody else's, better to be able to inform what you're going to do next. It informs your learning design, your planning cycle, what you're going to do tomorrow. So it's a way of thinking very professionally about the work that you do. End of transcript

Secure, respectful, reciprocal relationships

Explaining the 5 principles of the Early Years Learning Framework:

Video transcript

Alma Fleet: The five principles that go with the EYLF. They are not separate. They overlap. So again, we could choose one of them. We could have a whole evening on one of them if we were so inclined. The first one is critical, secure, respectful, and reciprocal relationships. And you might ask yourself, and we'll get to this at the other end of the evening, how would you know if children entering your home felt secure about doing that? What would you see? What would you hear? What would tell you that there were respectful and reciprocal relationships in your place? What does it look like? What does it smell like? What does it sound like? Alma Fleet: What I'm challenging you to do is to get beyond the superficial. In education, we are very superficial. Sociology is worse if that cheers you up. But we use language, it's true, we use language as if everyone understood it and meant the same thing by it. That's simply not the case. These are very big concepts. They are very complex. They vary in different countries. They vary in different social classes. They vary in different suburbs. Fine. That's fact. Nothing wrong with it. It's just a fact. So we need to think about what does it actually mean for you in your place with your children. And try to tease that out and defend it to somebody else who says, "Oh, I don't know, there was an argument in schools way back. I remember very clearly when I was growing up, the children were supposed to have their sandwiches in plastic," the equivalent of GLAD wrap or bags, and half of the children brought their sandwiches in paper, wrapped in paper. And there was this huge argument about sandwiches in paper versus sandwiches in plastic. Surely people have more important things to do with their time. If you happen to have paper, you have paper. If you have plastic, you have plastic. It is a silly rule. You have to think about where rules come from and why people do what they do. Alma Fleet: Another example about ... totally unrelated, but just thought of it, when we assume we know what's going on for a family. My dear friends and colleagues at Mia Mia Child and Family Center in Sydney, they're a part of the Institute of Early Childhood at Macquarie University, some of the staff were getting very concerned about a little guy who they thought should be crawling. They'd had this child with them since he was very young and he was not crawling. And they worried about what they're going to do about it and they tried all sorts of things. And then they finally had the conversation with the family and the family was absolutely appalled that the educators wanted this child to be on the ground because they had emigrated not that long ago from a place with snakes and children were not put on the ground, excuse me, until they were old enough to run from a snake. Alma Fleet: I mean, think about the things that we assume are normal. It's my least favourite world in the whole world, normal. Who wants to be normal anyway? I'm not normal. Do you want to be normal? Silly. I understand where the term comes from, that people are on either end of some kind of a spectrum. I understand that. But normal varies. Normal varies depending on who you are, where you're from, what the circumstances are. And so, we have to be very careful when we are assessing or evaluating children, what standard we're using to make those decisions. And there needs to be consultation with families and other experts around the place. Of course there might be something that requires another specialist or that's causing concern. Definitely follow up. Ask but ask, don't just assume. End of transcript.

Key messages from the Early Years Learning Framework

Video transcript

Alma Fleet: So the key message from the EYLF page 17. I told you the first 17 pages, 17 is my favourite. If you haven't looked at it, it's free download. Honestly, just put it on your desktop, when you're really bored have a little look at the EYLF. Assessment for children's learning refers to, this is a direct quote, this is a direct quote, the process of gathering and analyzing information. You don't just get it. You have to do something with it. Gathering and analysing. And what are you getting? You're not listing all the things they cannot do and how many times Johnny bit Mary. No, no, no, no. It might be annoying, but that's not what you're doing. Alma Fleet: What you're doing is looking at what children know, can do, and understand. And that is the most extraordinary phrase in a federal document. It's a guideline. It's not a law. But it's a complete reversal about what almost all of us, depending if you went to a really nice alternative school it might not have been the case, but almost all of us had the reverse. People were interested in what we didn't know, couldn't do, and didn't understand. That is a deficit orientation. Deficit, negative. We have permission to focus on what children know, can do, and understand. That is a completely different philosophy from what was in place before and I don't think a lot of people have caught up with the fact that this is 190 degrees from where education was sitting two decades ago. Very cool. It's part of an ongoing cycle. And this I've already referred to, planning, documenting, and evaluating learning. End of transcript

Giving your pedagogical documentation a 2 part title

Video transcript

Alma Fleet: Now, something else that we do with this work is to give it titles, because we want to think, "What is it? Why have we bothered writing up this piece?" It must be something that's important enough to bother putting this time into it. It's not just ticking off whether they ate their vegetables. You're putting time to put this narrative together. Okay? What is it that actually attracted your attention? What's going on here? What's worth thinking more about? What might we revisit with these children? What are we not yet, you know, imagine about where these children are living in their heads. Alma Fleet: I try to encourage people to do two part titles. If you're just beginning, it doesn't matter, but a two part title means, so if we've been playing with rocks and volcanoes, we don't just call it volcanoes. We say, "Exploring geography, dot, dot, volcanoes in the sandpit." By dot, dot, I mean, it's a colon. You know, you have little two dots next to each other that separates two half of the title. This part tells you what's going on in that part. Alma Fleet: It doesn't matter what's going on in each half of the title, but one half should be really interesting and invite you in. It should be inviting and the other half is going to be more informational. Yes, playing in the sandpit, building volcanoes. All right, you can't be wrong. A title can't be wrong for heaven's sakes, but you're letting people know what it is that you think was interesting about that sequence, and it's usually a sequence. It's not a one-off thing usually. It's usually a sequence of events or experiences that caught your attention. Alma Fleet: Two minutes, title this sequence with Charlie and Elsa. Alma Fleet: Okay. Yeah, a lot of you are wanting to use sand play. Fine. Sand Play: Scientists At Work. Audience: Collaborative Work: Exploring Through Sand. Alma Fleet: Beautiful. Okay. Yeah. Having a go at both halves. What was your second half? Funnel fun? Yep. Okay. One half here was funnel fun. Dot. Dot. And you could say more than pouring, for example. They're not just having a good time. What we're trying to let people, of course they are, and we want them to have a good time, but we want people to see the children actually learn all the time. We just don't necessarily recognize it as learning. So funnel fun, dot, dot, learning about gravity. Alma Fleet: Exploring motion, dot, dot. So you're trying to think what is going on here? And then you're trying to put a label on it. You can change your mind tomorrow. I'm a doesn't matter. And they might do something else with it tomorrow. A third child might come and affect the interaction in some way, and I might be in the sand, dot, dot, learning to work together. You know, it might not be about science at all. And the next week it could be something else. And so it's just trying to understand what is actually going on in these everyday events, collecting the data, the evidence and then titling it, and then you're ending up with them documenting pedagogically. And that affects your planning. End of transcript.

Effectiveness of pedagogy

A perspective on the effectiveness of pedagogy aligns with the intent of the Early Years Learning Framework and the National Quality Standard.

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The Australian Government Department of Education and Training funds the Family Day Care Education and Support project to allow Family Day Care services and educators to access additional education and support as required.

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Early Childhood Australia offers professional learning resources to early childhood educators.

Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA)

ACECQA works with all governments to provide guidance, resources and services to support the sector to improve outcomes for children.
 

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