Collaboration: ‘to work jointly with others or together, especially in an intellectual endeavor’
As a passionate team of Infants and young toddlers we took it upon ourselves to not only pursue change but also to be more open to possibilities within children’s learning. As reflective practitioners, we were looking to create a positive challenge to our established pedagogical perspectives. We wish to share an insight of how we have been challenged in our understanding of collaboration, coming to the conclusion that truly reflective practice comes through multiple perspectives.
“Do you see what I see?”
There are many definitions of what it means to ‘collaborate’. Within our role as infant/toddler teachers we believe we have come to a mutual understanding of what collaboration means in terms of our pedagogical documentation. Inspired by the philosophy and values of Reggio Emilia, we have sought to deepen our thinking, through sharing ideas, discussing ‘the language of possibility’, and maintaining an open-ended dialogue with each other.
As a passionate team of infants and young toddlers, we wanted to pursue more with our pedagogical documentation, especially in relation to children’s individual learning stories. We believe pedagogical documentation is based on teachers decisions about how they choose to make children’s learning visible.
Are we creating documentation that articulates meaningful and understandable perspectives of what children see?
Is what we seem to constantly ask ourselves. We acknowledge that as teachers we each have our own subjective interpretations of children’s learning. This is especially true for infant/toddler teachers, as we are focused on children’s non-verbal cues, and the relationships we develop through day-to-day experiences.
How could we as teachers really state we observed children’s learning objectively? Our questioning, became ‘action-research’ where we could retrospectively examine our assumptions and values through multiple perspectives. Through the use of “Google Docs” we opened up a dialogue that offered challenges, which tested our theories and gave rise to a multitude of new possibilities. Questions constantly came to the forefront of the dialogue between us, and we were using google docs as a tool that seemed to plant the seed for the beginning of our critical collaboration.
“Sometimes questions are more important than the answers” Nancy Willard.
For us, true collaboration, and partnership also built closer reciprocal relationships with children and families - acknowledging that we were learning alongside each other. Rather than simply describing events in a learning story, we began to use ‘critical reflection’, combining our practical and pedagogical knowledge in a way that seemed to create a language of possibility, rather than one of certainty....
We feel this journey has not ended, yet only just begun with what lies ahead. The uncertainty excites us in being able to discover the learning ourselves and simply enjoy the moment as teachers. It takes a lot of courage and patience to let go as one, but we have learnt that time is of the essence in allowing “collaboration” to evolve. We are grateful for the extra-ordinary in the ordinary everyday dialogue that we share, and look forward to continuing our collaborative journey wherever it may take us.
@hanna_fale says: For the last 6 years I have been an infant/young toddler teacher at Tots Corner. The journey has been an exciting road of obstacles, challenges and triumph; aspects that have all contributed to my growth as a teacher. My passion lies in photography within pedagogical documentation and how this enriches children’s everyday possibilities.
@JenBoydNZ says: Jen’s pedagogical ponderings open up a multitude of possibilities that she faces each day as an enthusiastic and creative infant and young toddler teacher. Jen’s heart lies also in creating pedagogical documentation for children and teachers through the use of ICT. Jen offers a dynamic approach in dialogue with others and acknowledges that truly reflective practice comes through multiple perspectives.
Many thanks to Taylor Faletaupule (1 year old) who features in our photographs.