I guess if we think of theorists as people who have studied children’s behaviour, development and learning extensively and come up with theories as to why children develop, learn or behave in a particular way, we’d be justified in thinking that’s what we do as educators. Everyday we observe children and use our professional knowledge to explain what we observe. In other words, we have developed our own theories to explain why children do what they do, and why we do what we do as educators. So, we are all theorists!
But, how and when did we develop our theories? Where did those theories come from? Are we open to having our theories challenged? Or, do we do what we do because that’s the way it’s always been done? And, do we think what we think because that’s what we’ve always thought?
This is where critical reflection comes in. According to ‘Belonging, Being & Becoming, The Early Years Learning Framework’, (p.13) “Critical reflection involves closely examining all aspects of events and experiences from different perspectives.” So it’s not enough to rely on our own theories; we need to be exploring the theories, philosophies and understandings that shape our personal theories. And we need to reflect on our observations and actions from different perspectives.
EarlyWorks supports what the EYLF calls ‘a lively culture of professional inquiry’ through it’s ‘Reflections of Pedagogy’ and ‘Program Comments’. Using the reflections of pedagogy, educators can review their current practices at an individual level, making clear the links to the Principles, Practices and NQS. Then, education leaders, managers or directors can provide feedback and more food for thought, thus encouraging educators to personally reflect on what and how they might change to continually improve practice. This will hopefully result in improved outcomes for the children and families in our care.
Using the Program Comments, educators can have ongoing conversations at a room level, about the current program. In this shared space, experiences and observations can be examined and talked about, and then new ideas generated. And, in order to ensure our reflections are not lost, with the click of the ‘extend’ button, program comments and reflections of pedagogy can be easily converted into observations that inform our programs. And so the cycle of review begins again…