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Reflection on Margie Carters seminar

Posted on November 5, 2009

Saturday 3rd October 2009

Margie Carter – Creating a reflective culture that transforms pedagogy

By Michelle Hughes

The warm and welcoming environment I arrived into was the perfect antidote to the cold and wet day outside. The hall had been beautifully prepared for us with individually decorated tables, displays and resources to look at.

Margie introduced herself and told us a bit about where she comes from. I really appreciated her sharing of this information and hearing of the links with the aboriginal people of her area.

Firstly we were encouraged to become students of our own teaching. Teachers are learners too and we need to constantly seek to improve on our own practices and ways of thinking. Part of this process involves regular critical reflection. By working closely with others in a collaborative way we can expand our perspectives, gain insight into different ways of thinking and challenge our own beliefs and practices.

Margie shared some examples of stories of children’s learning written by teachers who used a reflective and collaborative process to gain broader perspectives and understandings not only of the child’s learning but of their own learning. We then were given an opportunity to share our thoughts and perspectives within our groups at each table. It was very useful to take the time to share our knowledge with each other and to dialogue and reflect on our own practice, seeking “to co-create new knowledge through our collaboration”.

We can create a culture of inquiry with children by using a Thinking Lens for Reflection and Inquiry. The key elements of this process are: know yourself; examine the physical/social/emotional environment; find the details that capture your heart and mind; take the child’s point of view; collaborate with others to expand perspectives; reflect and take action. Also, use a protocol of re-visiting activities and re-presenting ideas to ‘get smarter’ (that’s what they say in America). For infants and toddlers this can be done with photos. We were reminded to make documentation available to children.

Teachers were reminded to: continue to learn about ‘learning to be good teachers’; to move from individual representations towards collaborative representations; to provoke children’s thinking; to allow children to see themselves as teachers by making their learning visible.

After lunch we had the opportunity to experiment with and explore an object that we hadn’t seen before. This certainly created a buzz in the room and a sense of wonder and joy on people’s faces! What fun to interpret and discover new and different ways to utilise and manipulate an object. This was a great reminder for me of what it must be like for a child to discover and experiment with something that they have never seen before.

We can become theory makers too! We can contribute to a body of knowledge – in our own context through critical inquiry. This informs us as we engage children’s thinking and their excitement about possibilities as they enter a process of inquiry too. This distributes the power of knowledge.

Margie also encouraged us to look at learning stories not just as a portfolio entry but as a pedagogical tool to help us learn about learning

Something that stood out for me was the statement “a programme has intellectual vitality if the teachers’ individual and group interactions are mainly about what the children are learning, planning and thinking about, plus their interest in each other, and only minimally about the rules and routines”.

The chocolate bars at 3pm couldn’t have been timed better! To the REANZ team, thanks for the sugar boost and a well-organised day.