3 Things That Make Kindergarten Teams ALL 21C

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Yes… I’m aware – this is a top ‘something’ article… and yes, I’m aware that I haven’t been the biggest proponent of ‘top something’ articles… but I can assure you.. I’m not a content farm… so here it goes!

Last week I blogged about how the Ontario Catholic Graduate Expectations provide a solid, attainable recipe for the acquisition of 21st Century skills. This week I’m going to blog about how kindergarten teachers and ECE’s across the country are really the pioneers of implementation of 21st-century practice. Over the past six months I’ve had the honour and the privilege of working with my school board’s Early Years Team and I have learned so much about what it really means to be a 21st Century Teacher! I thank @tulimari @tpucci13 for bringing me along this journey!


3 Key Challenges That Kindergarten Teams Face Implementing FDK (My Perception)

#1: Implementing the notions of play-based learning and student-driven curriculum within the confines of 100 years of tradition. Most of our kindergarten teams face the misconception that play-based learning is a sheep in wolf’s clothing. In reality, there is ample evidence to show that play and gamification develop and reinforce new neurological pathways in the brain and lead to development of self-regulation and problem solving skills. For more information check out the Kindergarten Guide found here and the subsequent sources cited within.


#2: To stray from the curriculum will certainly doom us all. Kindergarten teams have been tasked with bringing children to the curriculum – not the other way ’round. When a child arrives at school with a burning question, it could very well drive the learning of the day. It is then up to the teacher to make connections with the curriculum and provide feedback to guide. Imagine how risky that really is!


#3: Kindergarten teams know all-to-well that there is a low chance of teachers in subsequent grades continuing this approach once they leave the annals of the kindergarten classroom…. for now.


Do not doubt that kindergarten teams have had questions about implementation and they have questioned the ideas behind the full day kindergarten program, play-based learning, and inquiry-based learning. But they have questioned it for the benefit and the growth of their mission to show that this is the right way to approach education.


And so…. the 3 Things That Make Kindergarten Teams ALL 21C


1. Flexibility of Environment:


With FDK being implemented across the province, many of our teams have had to flex their environment to adapt to the new play-based stations and some have had to face rearranging their rooms regularly to find that different configurations serve different purposes. Imagine the mind-set of a teacher who is willing to make those changes for the sake of student learning. Imagine how you would feel if there was an expectation to adapt your learning space regularly to suit student learning. Many of our Kindergarten teams face that challenge everyday and have learned to provide that flexible environment.


2. Student Voice Drives Learning


"Bring the child to the curriculum… not the other way ’round." I am completely amazed at how many of our kindergarten teams are willing to guide learning based on what the children bring to school. Considering this requires teachers to leave the ‘tick-box’ specific curriculum expectations behind, it entails a risk and one worth taking. Children across our great province are arriving at school with questions and curiosities that drive an entire day or even week of learning. Such learning not only meets expectations, it exceeds and crosses curricula in ways you could never imagine. This is also when visual documentation of learning and the process of learning becomes paramount! These opportunities become ample and provide growth opportunities for teachers themselves. The children become the ‘living curriculum’.


3. Relinquishing Control:


Above all else, the sense that there will be chaos without regimented control must be put to rest. For there to be true organic learning Kindergarten teams have come to understand that in many cases, the plan enters when the first child enters the room. Or, the plan is altered as soon as an inquisitive question arises from the floor or the group exercise. By far fear of losing control dominates many teachers’ minds, but really, once we embrace chaos – or what we perceive to be chaos – incredible things happen.