5 tips for… Intentional Teaching

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The fourth blog post in the Practices series looks at Intentional Teaching. Here are 5 tips to help with this practice …

  1. Reconnect with your personal philosophy: For myself, the reason I got into early childhood as a career path was because I have always been passionate about how children explore and communicate in their own ways and I wanted to help support and challenge them, and be challenged by them. Hopefully you also have a personal philosophy and reason to be in early childhood that revolves around supporting and connecting with children. Sometimes we can slip away from this philosophy because of our personal experiences, the culture of our service, or a lack of professional development and mentoring opportunities to help us achieve this. Take some time to reconnect with what it was that started your early childhood journey to begin with and take stock as to whether your actions today reflect this, or whether you need to take steps to reconnect with this philosophy, in turn making you more deliberate in your interactions and programming.
  2. Be present: There are a lot of layers to being an educator and sometimes some of them take priority, whether that be doing chores, documentation, chatting with families, making friends with staff members, resetting the environment, and then accidentally children have slipped down the list of priorities. Being present as an Intentional Teacher means that you are always connected to the children as your number one priority. Your decisions allow you to spend more time with the children, not less. You find ways to work with the children and collaborate on the program together instead of telling children to leave you alone because you are busy. You are constantly in tune with what is happening in the environment and use this as an opportunity to adapt, reflect and challenge your ideas, instead of just getting through the day in whatever route seems easiest.
  3. Encourage your peers to be intentional: Part of being an Intentional Teacher is that you are aware of your role within your peers and your team. You are constantly striving to be a role model and a mentor to others in the way you are purposeful in your actions and thoughtful in your language. This includes holding other educators accountable in their intentions, and addressing issues in a professional and collaborative manner when shortcuts have been taken, or children have slipped down the priority list. This could be done in spontaneous discussions, through room meetings or staff meetings, reflective questions or professional development opportunities.
  4. Consider the messages you send: If you are a ‘deliberate, purposeful and thoughtful‘ educator then you need to consider how this comes across in the way you communicate, both verbally and non-verbally. Having your hands in your pockets while supervising the outside area says ‘don’t talk to me’. Using sarcasm, bribes or threats to manipulate children is not professional behaviour. Removing children from an experience because they are not doing what you want, instead of adapting the experience so they can engage, is not child focused practice. Simple little interactions can communicate volumes of information to a child who is looking for someone to trust and connect with and a place they can feel secure.
  5. Reflect on your practices: As with many aspects of the curriculum and our own behaviour it is important to reflect and take stock on how we are really performing, versus what we think is happening. Here are some questions to help with that.
    • How many times a day do you find your attention pulled away from the children?
    • Do you find yourself cutting corners a lot? (e.g. writing observations you didn’t actually observe, rushing through experiences, doing things without the children because it is quicker/neater/easier, avoiding discussions with certain families because you don’t feel like it).
    • How many of the events celebrated in your service are done in a way that is deliberate, purposeful and thoughtful?
    • Do you value the spontaneous learning that children demonstrate on a regular basis or are you more focused on the documentation?
    • When you get out of bed in the morning to go to work are you enthusiastic about what the day may bring? (and if not, when was the last time you were? What changed? How can you get that passion and enthusiasm back?).

 

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