Category Archives: journal

Preparation for the ERO Review & Children’s Learning questioned

Yes indeed, I have just come through an MoE relicensing palava for Montessori 1 and an OSCAR approvals review with CYFS for the after school and holiday programme only to receive the news that the Early Childhood Centre Mont 1 is to be reviewed by ERO next month!

It has been three years since our last review so we knew it was coming, but next month!!! Core blimey, I’ve got a trip to Tonga planned next month. And on top of that my daughter has just come down with Glandular fever.

It is three weeks to the school holidays and the Min of Soc Development still hasn’t decided which OSCAR programmes it is going to fund in this country this year. We have the best programme we have had for ages and we might have to pull the plug on it which would be a shame. We have retained our CYPS approval, with every policy checked, scrutinised, re-written, every staff member police checked, reference checked, scrubbed and polished. I found the CYPS approvals process to be a little disturbing to be honest. All the focus seems to be on our paperwork and not at all about the facilities or experiences we provide for the children.

Anyway such is life in the beurocracy. I have been doing a lot of reading and came across this quote by Carlini Rinaldi (2003)

The young child is the first great researcher. Children are born searching for and, therefore, researching the meaning of life, the meaning of self in relation to others and to the world. Children are born searching for the meaning of their existence…..the meaning of conventions, customs and habits we have, and of rules and the answers we provide.

Do you think this desire to search for meaning continues into adulthood? or do we change somewhere along the way and eventually expect someone else to tell us what it is? How much do you think our education system’s emphasis on assessment shapes how we learn? or what we learn, or why we learn?

The important outcomes of an (early childhood) education include the development of:

  • confidence and competence as a learner as the result of active exploration;
  • confidence and competence as a communicator as the result of making meanings known
  • a sense of continuity and belonging as a result of effective relationships and communication between home and (the ECE centre) the educator
  • a sense of wellbeing and contribution as the result of effective engagement with (ECE) education experiences that challenge and stimulate children to learn, think and grow in confidence.

In the words of ERO: “Children are more likely to be successful in their later formal education if they have been fortunate enough to be involved in high quality early childhood education”.

If this is true, then why is access to high quality early childhood education not compulsory in NZ?? and only available to the fortunate??

Why do so many of our school leavers leave school illiterate and enumerate?

(is that a word?)


Coming to grips with Early Childhood Education

I have been in my new job about seven weeks now and am finally starting to distinguish the wood from the trees. I joined the Centre during a very busy expansion phase when it would be fair to say things were a bit chaotic. The licencing and opening of our new centre and the reconfiguring of the two existing licences also happened to coincide with our busiest enrolment period in January and February. So, while I was trying to come to grips with the massive list of tasks I was now responsible for, the phone was ringing off the hook with families wanting to enrol their children. Unfortunately we were not ready with our third licence to offer everybody who phoned a place in the centre. But I am very pleased to say that following a meeting from the MOE on Friday the licence is but a piece of lino away.  Commercial lino layers are very rare in Dunedin at the moment. Last week we also managed to appoint a new provisionally registered teacher, find a very good permanent reliever and have received the CV’s of another two very promising looking teachers for our new centre. So things are starting to fall nicely into place.

My priorities for the next month are to:

1.    Sort out the funding for the OSCSAR programme and prepare for a review by CYPS at the end of the month

2.    Put in place a process of ‘systematic’ self review of our programmes, policies,  planning,  assessment and health and safety compliance. Self review is something we do every single day anyway, but we have to show the powers- that- be that we are doing it ‘systematically’.

3.    Follow up PD for Kei Tua o te Pae and check planning documentation and profiles in all programmes.

I am hoping to develop some online collaboration with programme planning and evaluation using wikieducator in the future. The ECE sector is starting to use ICT as a communication tool between professionals,  so this is encouraging.

I have kicked off our ‘sustainability’ theme with the creation of an edible garden and two compost bins. The Montessori 1 class has been planting seeds and learning about germination and this week they will hopefully start to look at earthworms and composting. The vegetable seedlings are also still waiting to be planted. I have gathered all the ingredients to make a worm farm out of tyres for the centre. I have one at home which is working extremely well despite having been told they are not the best by the woman who sold me the worms.

Where to now?

Tena koutou.

I have decided to take a ‘sabbatical’ next year and will be busy running a business and developing new educational programmes for the Early Childhood Centre I have shares in. This leaves my post here at the computer face developing online resources up for grabs in the Learning Centre and I’m hoping one or more of my colleagues will fill the breach (William you read my blog don’t you?) I must say I have become very encouraged this year to see more Otago Polytechnic staff coming on board with Blogs and wiki’s and I am delighted that some of them (Leigh and David in particular) have actually started working collaboratively with me in creating resources which are useful to all of us. I’ll remind you where these are again in case you have forgotten;

This Page:

and this page:

Also it has been great to see other academic staff (Hillary Jenkins and Dave) actually making use of some of the resources I have put up on the wiki. Yeeha that’s what I’m talking about!

I have seen a lot of duplication of resources and reinvention of the wheel since I have been here at OP and nationally through my professional association, ATLAANZ and it is really great that we now have the vehicle (wikieducator or other wiki platforms) to share, collaborate and co-operate. Thanks to Leigh Blackall for introducing us to this technology. It is due to his enthusiasm that Otago Polytechnic is now at the forefront of online delivery in New Zealand. I didn’t know what a blog or a wiki was a year ago either.

Anyway, I think my mission next year might be to get ATLAANZ on board with using wiki’s and contributing to wikieducator and the Commonwealth of Learning. I was recently at an ATLAANZ conference and it is plainly obvious that this is what we need. We could be researching collaboratively online.

Even though I won’t be coming in to the office next year I will still be maintaining an interest in this project and am happy to communicate online through this blog or email groups.

Kia kaha, ka kite ano.

Learning Centre staff coming on board with website

My colleagues in the Learning Centre have had a look at the pages I have put up on the OP website and are now showing an interest in becoming involved with their creation and maintenance. This is very good news, as in order for the pages to continue to improve we all need to add our expertise. I will continue to search for existing resources and link to these and also see where we need to develop new resources. The Learning Centre still has a few handouts which we could make available online.

embedding slideshare

Slides courtesy of Tonywh

Todays meeting – creation of short courses

There is a growing need for more support of students doing online courses now and in the future at Otago Polytechnic. So our priority is to create ‘short courses’ or instructional resources for this purpose. We created an Index in David’s wiki “Computer Literacy Resources for Teaching”

The list is very long. The list was generated from previous suggestions and looking at the Q4U pamphlets and OU’s Tip Sheets.

The plan is to author the original content in wikieducator and then contract developers to turn it into a suitable format for students. Who those ‘developers’/’designers’ will be, is yet to be determined. We will probably need additional authors as well.

In the afternoon Wendy, Sonny, Leigh and I looked at how to create a screen recording We then had a go ourselves. Unfortunately Leigh had to leave before we had done this satisfactorily. There is still a question in Wendy’s and now my mind about using camstudio and licensing/copyright problems.

Bronwyn’s reply

It would be great to see you keeping an eye on the eLearning guidelines as you go and rewriting some of them.

This project will align nicely with a Tertiary Education commission eLearning guidelines project whiich is just starting. There are some smaller projects within it looking at student learning needs. I will send you the link to the project wiki soon so you can see who is doing stuff around student learning.