I am no longer teaching but my whole philosophy and way of teaching was built around shared story telling in all of its forms – storyplay, art (drawing, painting collage, making), story writing/dictating, storyacting, music, song, movement dance, and all of the ideas and emotions that the children themselves brought up throughout a day, a week, a month, a year. To establish a group culture we used the children’s own ideas and experiences as a starting point, so that from the beginning the children and adults together created their own curriculum. It was a ‘thinking-on-your-feet/nudging and narrating’ process for the children and the adults. It was fluid, challenging and allowed ideas to be explored over a day, weeks, months and even over a year. With this way of learning/teaching I needed to have resources and/or knowledge, or ways of finding out, at my fingertips. I learned to listen, to interpret underlying meaning. I also needed to keep in mind my learning/teaching intentions for myself and those of the children. I learned a way of responding to issues as they arose – for me this meant getting into the habit of not jumping in, but waiting, watching, listening, nudging before questioning,
At kindergarten one day we had to warn everyone not to go into the sandpit until we had dealt with the overnight offering left there by one of the neighbourhood cats.
I was annoyed that we were still having to deal with this problem because the promised sand pit cover hadn’t arrived yet, but I did what I always try to do when these kind of problems arise. I paused, assessed the situation, and then set about fixing it as quickly and calmly as possible. At the same time I watched and listened to see how the children were responding. I sensed a heightened level of excitement as the word ‘poo’ spread through the group.
There’s dog poo in the sandpit! Where? Show me! Ooh! Yuck!
My cat did a poo in our sandpit.
Mine too! Mum said we’ll have to get a cover for it. (I sigh) Let’s make a sign. Come on!
We put the signs up near the sandpit, and no-one went into the sandpit until it was safe to do so.
In the sandpit. Dog Poo
Throughout the year making signs had become an integral part of the program. These children knew how to make signs to warn, control, direct, make announcements, and advertise.They had learned the art of using words, images and symbols to get their messages across in simple and direct ways.