Episode 9 – Authentic Conversations with Colleagues: Thinking about Art, Music, and Dance with Young Children – with Victoria Armstrong

Victoria, owner of Side by Side Consulting Services, is a skilled thinking partner for early childhood educators and brings many rich experiences and wisdom to this 2-part conversation. In this episode, and part 1, we engage is an authentic, reflective, and open conversation to explore our experience with, and our ideas about young children’s experiences with art, music, and dance. We discuss parallel practices of play, the importance of building relationships with high quality materials, and the influence of time in getting to know materials such as clay or a guitar. If you’re curious about how you can support and honour children’s expression through various art forms, this episode is for you!

What was extra magical about this conversation was that Victoria and I had many, many deeper reflections once we listened back to this recording. Despite both being engaged during the conversation, we noticed new ideas that didn’t stand out to us the first time, and were blown away by the layers of ideas woven throughout this conversation. These new noticings and wonderings led us to realize how many more conversations are yet to be had on this topic. While episode will be out mid-April, I’m sure this is just the beginning of many more conversations between us about this topic.

References

Gandini, L. (Ed.). (2005). In the spirit of the studio: Learning from the atelier of Reggio Emilia. Teachers College Press.

Pelo, A., & Carter, M. (2018). From teaching to thinking: A pedagogy for reimagining our work. Exchange Press.

Pelo, A. (2016). The language of art: Inquiry-based studio practices in early childhood settings. Redleaf Press.

Episode 8 – Pondering Pathways: Play! (Part 2)

Welcome back to a playful episode about play! While I intended for this episode to be about play theorists, the benefits of play, and how play and learning are interconnected, I ended up taking a walk and capturing some recent reflections from my own practice and experience about how I value and notice play, lately. Here, I share my hot takes on keeping play alive in our language and observations, what I’ve been learning about Anishinaabe perspectives about animals (and how that, to me, feels playful) and  what children need post-COVID. I also included a voice note on my phone where I reflect on my own experience with play and sound lately, and Jean Clinton’s idea of positive upwards spirals/Carol Anne Wein’s suggestion of supporting the whirldwind effects of synergy and positive energy in classrooms. I’d love to hear your thoughts on play as well – how do you keep the play alive in your life? 

Just to clarify a few things, the children’s book I discuss is actually called Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox and the author is Danielle Daniel.

Jean Clinton’s idea of positive upward spirals is discussed in her book Love Builds Brains, but it’s also discusses in a conversation she has with Anne Douglas on YouTube.

Finally, Carol Anne Wein’s idea of the whirl wind effect is from the Think Feel Act document, Empowering Children in the Middle Years.

Episode 7 – Wondering About Inclusion From One Family’s Perspective, with Special Guest Sandy B.

What happens when a Human Resources manager (mom), a student teacher (middle sibling), and a grad student (eldest sibling) FaceTime for 5 minutes? Well, when it’s my family, we start theorizing about inclusion. What started as a spontaneous video call, turned into a deep conversation that challenged what we thought about inclusion, and called us to rethink how we have experienced inclusion of disability. This  prompted us to hit the record button to capture our wonderings, and it also prompted us to pause our conversation to include the most important perspective: Sandy. In my family, my youngest sibling, Sandy, lives with Down Syndrome, and in this episode she generously shares her ideas, opinions, and memories of attending multiple high school proms. This episode left me with more questions about inclusion and belonging, and begs for a next step in including  educators’ perspectives on the history of this particular example of inclusion. Just a reminder that there is a transcript of every episode available on Buzzsprout to assist in understanding what is discussed in each episode.

In this episode, we chat about one specific example of inclusion, which is a prom that is facilitated by the Life Skills Program that Sandy attended during high school. There are two different conversations that discuss the prom throughout the episode: a conversation between myself, Alison (my sibling), and my mom (the first half of the episode), and then a conversation between myself and Sandy (second half of the episode). Our intention here is not to actually critique the prom at all, because, as you find out, Sandy enjoys attending it. Instead, we are just capturing our fleeting perspectives about how the prom did or did not involve inclusion, and how it might end up looking different under various conditions. We don’t really have coherent opinions here, and its more of a wandering conversation with some wonderings musings, realizations questions about part of some of our experiences as a family as it pertains to inclusion, since our family has engaged with multiple institutions and programs that have had varying degrees of inclusion. We gravitated to this example of inclusion, the prom, because there is an analogy about how inclusion is being invited to the dance, but belonging is being asked to dance ( which I need to track down and cite, forgive me). So, by sharing my family’s perspectives on this dance, we hope it contributes to larger conversations about inclusion, accessibility, equity, voice, choice, and belonging.

We also invite feedback, additional perspectives, and other stories from lived experiences with various versions of events or programs for the purposes of accessibility and inclusion to be shared, and I would be delighted to engage in a follow up conversation with anyone who feels called to discuss this topic with me.

What did this episode make you curious about?

“As Music” – A Spoken Word Poem

I’ve decided that I wanted to more openly share some of the journey I’ve been on in terms of questioning, shedding, and challenging the colonial frameworks that I operate within the systems of oppression that I benefit from. One path forward that felt accessible to me was to start by looking at knowledge. Whose knowledge counts as credible? Where has discipline knowledge come from? I started this journey many years ago but became conscious of it during a graduate course about interdisciplinary approaches to knowledge. During this course I created a spoken word poem to mark where I was on my journey at the time. It’s now been a year since I created the poem and I’m feeling ready to share it, unedited. The poem is a winding reflection on knowledge, research, what I believed to be ‘reconciliation’, and music. The poem is purposely long, with little regard for time or efficiency.

Here’s a short rationale about writing and sharing the poem:

“This poem was created to help me gain confidence in presenting academic ideas through art. It is not a destination, but a landmark on my learning journey of decolonization and reconciliation as a scholar. It is both a call-to-action and a self-reflection that is intentionally non-linear and redundant, representing my current feelings towards academia, knowledge, efficiency, and rightness.

I have a more refined sense of where I am, who I am in relation with, how I engage in knowledge seeking, and who I am not….. In the poem I consider the things/beings I am in (shared) relationships with, and I speak directly to/with fellow graduate students, faculty, Indigenous individuals/communities, and myself. I also introduce myself to “all my relations” in an effort to identify where my personal and professional commitments lie.

“Finally, this poem pledges that my knowledge-seeking endeavours will not be completed in isolation. They will be playful and expansive and equity-seeking all at once, as I listen and contribute simultaneously. They are, in part, communal acts, two-way conversations, with all involved relations, through call-and-response engagement, expression, and communication.

As is reconciliation.

As is music.”

Lyrics:

“I knew it!” I’ve said, only to feel regret,

once I find out I’m wrong.

have I been wrong all along? How do I respond?

and how do I shape this to song?

knowledge as rightness, determined by whiteness

and colonial structures of college

I ponder my wrongness to resist in honest

attempts to unsettle and resolve this 

the trust in precision, is stifling rhythm, 

fixation with facts is so loud

turn it down, I’m not proud, it overpowers the crowd

we’ve forgotten how to play with sound

we discuss, relate, debate, agitate

and approve whose knowledge is true

we read books and papers dissect the layers

to decide whose knowledge gets moved

do you feel the groove?

is this even good science? tby rightness?

how can I make a transition?

from regurgitation to conversation

how can I learn to listen?

what’s my role in this, am I complacent, worse – 

my developing praxis

co-opts ways of being so I don’t stop reflecting 

on each of my actions 

do you hear this?

yet I put my head down, say nothing out loud

settle into the academic 

ways that exist in mentorship process,

calibrating to scholarship

“grad schools lonely! But never boring!”

is what I have heard all year. 

but I thrive on my own (see my first canoe solo!)

so… won’t I shine here?

only to find that again I’m not right,

so how do I relate to this sense? 

of place and wonder and stories and blunder

perhaps all pretense and nonsense. 

I feel like a starving solo artist.

to reconcile my feelings of intuitive believing 

with not always being correct

is an act of resisting the structures and systems 

that regulate knowledge as fact

where’s the music in that?

what we know grows, it comes and goes 

and flows in a rhythm we prose

as conversation, tiny revelations, 

that never exist alone

and spark revolutions in each institution

to reimagine our futures

and ignite something fiery to undo the binary 

and provide some resolution 

can I make a musical contribution?

you know that feeling when time is twisting

and you’re so engorged in the process

plans become abstract, bending to match

a rhythm undistorted by facts 

perhaps 

we need more of that 

there’s no finish or start to this, stop rushing knowledge

these paths are winding and infinite 

no linear progression in life lessons

they’re just interconnected

to think in relations means intimacy and faith in a

two-way conversation (Breen, 2019)

a dance of equity and accountability

with edits of refinement and persuasion 

sound is much more than entertainment

my knowledge is one piece, you may have another, 

and neither alone may be whole 

but together we weave a cohesive story 

that creates a little home 

maybe I’m not playing solo

hah, but home, you see, that’s again where we’re wrong

we’ve been telling lies all along 

home is the problem, only some beings blossom,

when we’re singing a stolen song

this predisposition to ask questions

of ownership and acquisition

unsettle institutes and dig up the roots,

to unoccupy the settlement of wisdom (Tuck & Yang, 2012)

remain responsive, relocate as wanted

reposition again and again 

be slightly nomadic, flexible by habit

home is created and recreated when 

I pick up and move, unearth my roots,

maybe I’m meant to pass through

I see where I have harvested, exploited, and marketed

in places that I am not native to

while there’s no place like home, and I can’t do this alone

who I am to think I’m of service,

to groups I’m not part of, I don’t hold the knowledge

and to think otherwise is a disservice

so I recalibrate, reroute, and migrate

to some space in-between

comfort and a front door, my thirst for more

means I find new ways of being

‘cause I won’t play along, when I don’t like the song 

and nothing really resonates, 

it’s too big or too small, doesn’t fit at all, 

then it finally it begins to dissipate

rodent models of schizophrenia 

my lived experience with mania, 

my research and knowledge converge

from big data privacy 

to interview anxiety

new interests mean I feel heard

nature-based pedagogy to Mad Studies

self-compassion and musicality

these things I know, although I may outgrow

my learning it emerges indefinitely

knowledge comes as we need it (Breynton, S, personal communication, December 3 2020), 

no need to master it  

just trust in the process 

it is a forest (Interdisc Class, 2020), no need to engorge in it

let curiousity be your compass

while unlearning is unnerving, unsettling, disturbing

it’s birthing new ways of being 

a yearning for learning that trusts in the journey 

of investing in our shared meanings

I hear a tune in building

my ears can’t yet decipher such sophisticated cultures

of beings all interconnected

that linger in dependence a fermata suspended  

to know who we are is all relative 

so to all my relations, future generations 

and ancestors, it’s so good to meet you.

I hear your songs: can’t wait to sing along

in a tune rings true for you too.

so who am I? and what do I do?

I’m Kim, not Kimberly, except for my family 

and I play/work/live on the lands

of Dish with One Spoon, an Educator who

belongs to tributaries of the Grand 

and what does it mean for me to be an ECE

and occupy space as student

my roles have oppressed, and I feel unrest

in honouring that I am still human

while I’m no soloist I try to make the most of this

seeking serenity in solitude

a recovering positivist (Akers, T. personal communication, Dec 1, 2020), 

wanna-be psychologist

exploring alternative avenues

extending towards my energy source 

what’s my connection to land

“Through unity – survival, all flourishing is mutual” (Kimmer, 2013, p. 20)

(there’s) no sustainability in a one-woman band

for as far as I can see, when I die my body

will feed many more beings (Elrick, 2010)

may my creations outlive me,

through interdisciplinarity

art, music, and stories

you can call me creative but I kind of hate it 

the romanticization of novelty

to know it by heart is part of my art

seeking the free flowing, softly

yet with the pressure to achieve, 

I am constantly wondering 

what this means for my own identity

to share ideas liberally, 

am I still appealing

to the academy? 

my aim is to deviate but also celebrate,

those who have allowed me to be free

to make space for more changes and liberation and

know my positionality

by disrupting discourses and dominating forces

and offer restorying lessons

a retelling of history, new ways of thinking

and address ongoing abjection

in this conversation 

I ask that we widen 

the range of human responses (Barton, 2020)

considered normal and not just neoliberial

understandings of concepts

intentional erasure of experience and nature

don’t think it’s beneath us

to centre research on whiteness is an act of violence 

the silencing is so insidious 

so how do I collect, analyze, and protect

complexity of researching communities?

recomplicate play through a commitment to name

experiences are not captured through binaries

maybe thinking in metaphors (Kimmerer, 2013), expressing through symbols 

& narratives not to just benefit me

to investigate connections and the 100 languages (Edwards, Gandini & Foreman, 1998)

of experience captured through story

literacy of place at a poetic pace 

and grace for BIPOC students 

and new immigrants and research participants 

and the more than human

mindbody spiritual and the emotional (Kimmerer, 2013)

cultural teachings and sovereignty 

I cherish your company offer space for exploring

there’s always time for tea with me (Imai, R., personal communication, November 29, 2019)

well-being expression engagement belonging (Ministry of Education, 2014)

how to foster these but not police 

From Teaching to Thinking (Pelo & Carter, 2018), listening to possibilities

that’s my commitment within the academy

that is not to say that we’re all the same,

or that we can melt the past away

but if we can at least play in the same game 

or maybe in the same key

then, I imagine we are all just passionate

players in floral orchestras

choruses of dissonance, can you hear us?

aligning in harmonic performances

I think… I may not be right, 

I’ve been so protected by white,

I aim to know things differently, a gesture that learning 

is never ending in life

it’s symbiotic, entrancing, melodic, expansive

with evasive solutions

synchronicity, in many of ways being through

research as reconciliation (Wilson & Dupre, 2019) as music

so we dance and we play, listen and create

in rounds that build in crescendo

conversing through harmonies, like little symphonies,

in call and response like a tango

and I stumble my way down pedagogical veins, 

admiring roots and leaves 

I follow, I lead, everything in-between 

as I realize that knowledge is breathing

it’s coming and going, ebbing and flowing

iterative and evolving

sense-based and spiralized, enduring over time, 

it’s living, too, so be kind

it’s alive (Breen, A. V. personal communication, Dec 3, 2020) 

and it’s mighty, 

but I must tread lightly,

for it is not mine

it’s passed down by folks

I’ll never dance with or know,

so, I must know, responsibly. 

just like rightness and wrongness 

not binary opposites 

neither are unknowing and knowledge 

both oppressed and oppressor 

student and professor

untether 

settler 

from 

college

References

Barton, K. [Kim Barton]. (2020, Oct 27). Kim Barton family theory presentation [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1dQrrVUw1A&feature=youtu.be

Breen, A. V. (2019). You do not belong here: Storying allyship in an ugly sweater. In Wilson, S.,

Breen, A. V., & DuPré, L. (Eds.), Research and reconciliation: Unsettling ways of knowing through Indigenous relationships (pp. 49 – 59). Canadian Scholars.

Deane, P. (2018, May 22). A guide for interdisciplinary researchers: Adding axiology alongside ontology and epistemology. Integration and implementation insights [Blog post].
https://i2insights.org/2018/05/22/axiology-and-interdisciplinarity 

Edwards, C., Gandini, L., & Forman, G. (Eds.). (1998). The hundred languages of children: The Reggio Emilia approach – Advanced reflections (2nd ed). Greenwood Publishing Group.

Elrick, M. (2010). Dwelling Where I Teach: Connections with Friluftsliv. Pathways: The Ontario Journal of Outdoor Education22(3), 4-10.

Hooks, B. (2006). Love as the practice of freedom. B. Hooks. Outlaw Culture. Resisting Representations, 243-250.

Interdisc. Class (2020, Sept 15). Metaphor assignment and poems [Class Assignment]. FRHD*6340.

Kimmerer, R. W. (2013). Braiding sweetgrass: Indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge and the teachings of plants. Milkweed Editions.

Ontario Ministry of Education. (2014). How Does Learning Happen? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years. http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/childcare/howlearninghappens.pdf 

Pelo, A., & Carter, M. (2018). From teaching to thinking: A pedagogy for reimagining our work. Exchange Press.

Tuck, E., & Yang, K. W. (2012). Decolonization is not a metaphor. Decolonization: Indigeneity, education & society1(1).

Wilson, S., & Hughes, M. (2019). Why research is reconciliation. In Wilson, S., Breen, A. V., & DuPré, L. (Eds.), Research and reconciliation: Unsettling ways of knowing through Indigenous relationships (pp.6 – 19). Canadian Scholars.

Episode 6 – The embedded, embodied, and imbued with Bob Henderson

In this episode, I had the great pleasure of chatting with outdoor education ‘guru’ Bob Henderson. As an experienced educator, guide and writer, Bob exudes wisdom when discussing of ways being with people outdoors. Through this conversation Bob and I find many not-so-surprising connections between my own experience as a student and Bob’s experience as an educator, despite Bob never teaching me. We cover everything from adventure narratives to play as cultural defiance to the value of baking cinnamon buns on trip. Running with Bob’s ideas, we reflect on multiple ways of being, the role of relationality while being outdoors, the usefulness (or lack thereof) of hobbies, being in the present, tumbling and fumbling, and the possibility of ‘joy’ conferences in the future. This conversation is full of nuggets of wisdom for nature-based educators everywhere!

Bob disentangles simplicity, complexity, and complication, and demystifies the intentionality of teachable moments,

“Let’s be here together well. Let’s be playful, let’s be joyous, let’s really come to feel the presence of the place we’re in and the presence of each other. Let’s develop high level relationality”

Somethings I still have to look up to properly share and cite include the following:

  • Einstein book
  • Gattow Taylor book – hidden curriculum
  • aldo leopold: culture and landlessness have being synonymous
  • Play by dr. stuart brown
  • aldo leopold quote: play as cultural defiance
  • who needs a worldwind trip when you can take it slow: slow travel movement
  • john steinback: people don’t take good trips, good trips take people
  • sigmund

The Playful Podcast Episode 4 – Glorified Babysitting

In this solo episode I reflect on the fight that ECEs are in to professionalize our work and gain respect by leveraging away from being considered as glorified babysitters. I wander through wonderings about different types of care and education across time, space, and cultures, and ask questions that feel unsettling to my own identity as an ECE. Note: this episode was recorded at the beginning of Sept 2021.

A special note: some of the information I shared in this episode came from being present at events and listening to Indigenous activists share their stories. I tried my best not share information that I would have had to ask permission to share, but I still don’t know how to appropriately cite this kind of knowledge. Therefore, my message to you, if you find this knowledge insightful and motivating, is to get out and physically or virtually attend events run by Indigenous communities to learn about the local knowledge that they hold and that they are willing to share with you.

The statistics I shared about residential schools can be found here:

The book I reference by Kim Anderson and Jessica Ball can be found here (but, if you can, I beg you to find another place to buy it).

The Two-Row Paddle of the Grand information can be found here:

The history of self-care and black panthers; all information I shared was from here:

Carol’s Garboden Murray’s Illuminating Care book and facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/search/top?q=illuminating%20care%3A%20the%20pedagogy%20and%20practice%20of%20care

#boringselfcare posts can be found by @makedaisychains on insta: https://www.instagram.com/p/CHDqLdUBTJn/

Feminist Ethics of Care articles:

  • Langford, R. (Ed.). (2019). Theorizing feminist ethics of care in early childhood practice: Possibilities and dangers. Bloomsbury Publishing.
  • Powell, A., Johnston, L., & Langford, R. (2021). Equity Enacted: Possibilities for Difference in ECEC through a Critical Ethics of Care Approach. Equity as Praxis in Early Childhood Education and Care, 65.

Pay Caregivers Fairly episode on Call Your Girlfriend: https://open.spotify.com/episode/5EIAn1QAR4oDothi3T279x

Instagram posts discussing the suspension of systems of interdependence: https://www.instagram.com/p/CTFBmEBH3Ww/

Ladyweb epsiode on Call your Girlfriend: https://open.spotify.com/episode/0glfXLvhEmLGP70yZyTW9p

Braiding Sweetgrass (Kimmerer)
“Through unity survival. All flourishing is mutual”

How We Show Up, Mia Birdsong: http://www.miabirdsong.com/how-we-show-up

Ontario’s changes to support rec and leisure more: https://www.ontario.ca/page/before-and-after-school-programs-what-parents-and-providers-need-know

Carol Garboden Murray quote about babysitting: https://www.facebook.com/carolgarbodenmurray/photos/a.124546839303044/327023165722076/

Educators as co-learners and researchers: https://www.ontario.ca/page/how-does-learning-happen-ontarios-pedagogy-early-years

#ichosepreschool: https://www.instagram.com/p/CTTVAUrsTgM/?utm_medium=copy_link

The Playful Podcast Episode 3 – Play! (pt. 1)

Brief summary of shownotes and references:

The Playful Podcast Episode 2 – Prerequisites to Play

In this solo episode, I introduce a mini-series that I intend to continue called Pondering Pathways, where I take a walk around my neighbourhood while reflecting on what is required to access play. I follow up from my questions about Treaty 3 from my first episode and then I contemplate some systemic limitations related to ability, race, socioeconomic status, and culture. I take a deep dive into some thoughts about music in early learning, seasonal outdoor play, and what is required to engage with sophisticated environments and tools. This episode is a little bit of an experiment… it’s a bit choppy or distorted at times and includes some input from the more-than-human world.

  • In this episode I start by following up with my action item from the first episode and share some information I learned about what Treaty 3 is. I stumble my way through discussing an article written by Dr. Brittany Lubby and Dr. Alison Norman about Treaty 3, their history class, and Anishinaabe culture. Here is the full quotation: “Caroline Bridge: Due to the large bodies of water being dealt with in Treaty Three, we can speculate that input from the Nation’s women was important. Women in Anishinaabe culture, of which the Mississaugas are a part, are considered “Keepers of Water,” meaning that when it came to the usage of water, their word was likely to have been considered invaluable in 1792.”
  • I briefly mention my reflections on water as a white settler begin with this Instagram post, and the time of writing this there are 7 total posts documenting these reflections, plus a few others in there that are clearly related.
  • As I stepped outside and started discussing outdoor play and nature-based learning, I reflect on the quotation “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”. I had no idea who initially offered this quotation, but with some digging it seems that most people attribute it to Alfred Wainwright although that appears debatable. I need to also say that my reflections about expensive clothing and sensory integration are not my own. I wish I had kept tabs on where I first learned about being critical about this quotation, but I can only track down a few references that I consulted prior to recording this episode:
  1. Regarding how sensory integration occurs outdoors, I learned about this whenI attended a talk by Jon Young and Kathleen Lockyer put on by the Guelph Outdoor School. Kathleen’s website is available here.
  2. I started reflecting on Canadian winter culture after reading this article. Some of the international differences in outdoor play that I referred to are likely discussed here, although I haven’t yet read it (I’ve just read other work by the authors).
  3. A few inspiring resources for playing outdoors with children include the book There’s no Such Thing as Bad Weather, Balanced and Barefoot and Last Child in the Woods,
  4. The clothing library I discussed was from Outdoor Play and Learning as discussed at a Conference by the Council of Outdoor Educators of Ontario.
  5. “..long periods of uninterrupted play” is a concept that is discussed in Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years
  • When I talked about the affordances available in wild spaces, this comes from authors like:
  1. Dr. Mariana Brussoni
  2. Dr. Zahra Zamani
  3. Dr. Helen Little
  • When I reflected on what counts as musical play, I speak from a place of being really inspired by Dr. Susan Young’s work. Here is an example of some of her work related to playing with music in early childhood.

Thanks for listening!

Stay playful

The Playful Podcast. Episode 1 – Playful Pedagogies and Podcastings

Welcome to the podcast! In this solo pilot episode, I introduce myself and my orientations toward play, share some ideas about my intentions for this podcast, and try my hand at defining ‘pedagogy’ from the ECE perspective. After disclosing some of my own playful journey into podcasting, I try answering some rapid fire questions I created for future guests. Let’s hope my dream list of guests will manifest!

  • In the first 4 minutes I introduce myself, discuss my positionality, and share information about the land from which I’m chatting on. I talk about living in a city in Ontario known as 2 Rivers and the historical and contemporary relationships that Indigenous groups have had with the land, which reflects the City of Guelph’s land acknowledgement.
  • Next, I try to define pedagogy, but I noticed I forgot to include to say that it’s the theory and practice of teaching and learning, which is literally in the Wiki definition of pedagogy.
  • I also oooze appreciation for Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass. If you haven’t bought the booked or got yourself onto the hold list at a local library, seriously, you’ll want to start the process. That book is life changing.
  • The graduate course I talk about around the 13 min mark is called Interdisciplinary Approaches to Family Relations and Human Development at the University of Guelph and the book that I read a quote from is called Research and Reconciliation by Shawn Wilson, Andrea Breen, and Lindsay Dupre.
  • I touch on how this podcast can resemble pedagogical documentation of my learning journey. If you’re not familiar with this terminology, trust that I will explain it more in future episodes. But also, if you are as curious as I am, I’d recommend checking out these resources:
  1. Making Learning Visible
  2. Habits of Documenting
  3. Technology Rich Inquiry Based Research

As always, you can reach my at @playfulpedagogies on instagram and facebook; @playfulpod on twitter, and at kem@playfulpedagogies.ca for feedback or to collab!

Meta-Reflection

Here I will be reflecting on my experience over the past semester, especially near the end as my knowledge became synthesized, how I created some concrete next-steps for my pedagogical practice, and my reflections on the process of creating and listening to our podcasts.

Podcasts

What I learned about my own teaching practice after creating and listening to our podcasts.

The process of creating and editing my podcast was incredibly enlightening. First, by reviewing literature on the topic of Indigenous Pedagogies (the general topic of our podcast) I came to better understand the current state of the literature in this area (i.e., focusing on decolonizing academia, Indigenizing campuses, and not just inserting Indigenous history or cultural knowledge into a curriculum). Second, reviewing the information from the studies for the purposes of sharing the information prompted me to enter into relationship with this knowledge, preserve its context where possible, and better understand what I know and don’t yet know on this topic. The many conversations that Anna and I had before doing the podcast helped me feel like I was doing the topic justice and flushing out some of my own ideas as I grappled to better understand Indigenous Pedagogies on a personal level, by way of decolonizing my own mind. Anna mentioned so many new concepts to me, introduced me to new language, and reminded me of additional perspectives I would have never thought of. For example, Anna described a kind of elasticity that feels present in the processes of unlearning/relearning the settler-colonialism of educational processes and how despite any “progress” that is made in terms of unsettling Anna’s understanding or worldview, how it returns to default, colonial, capitalist ways of operating. This was an experience that feels very true for myself as well, and so I referred to it as a “snap back” that happens (in our podcast). By including this in our podcast, it felt as though we were making a case that understanding and discussing Indigenous Pedagogies in higher-ed is not the same process that may occur with disseminating other pedagogical strategies, because it is a personal process for everyone and the knowledge is highly contextual. Considering the ways in which this knowledge is moved from person to person is part of understanding and respecting Indigenous pedagogies. Next, having the 1 hour conversation with Anna for the podcast was so illuminating in terms of how we spontaneously found ways to fit our knowledge together and how we realized the ways in which our articles complement each other, contributing to a larger conversation of SoTL.

Then, listening back to my podcast to begin editing it revealed so many of my remaining biases and mis-steps; I called them cringe-worthy moments with Anna because it felt like I said things that I didn’t mean or that could be misinterpreted. These revelations are one of the biggest take-aways from this process because now I can concrete topics to continue gaining understanding on and to better understand before I speak about them. It also helped me to further synthesize the information into a story that can be followed by listeners, which, is helping me continue to build my ability to articulate my rationale for why academia must prioritize Indigenous pedagogies where appropriate.

Finally, shifting our podcast from the editing stages to the final product brought out so many feelings of pride for me. It felt like Anna and I created a landmark in time, marking our current understanding of Indigenous pedagogies. Regarding my own teaching practice, this represents a catalyst from which I can now be transformed as I now move into deeper relationships with the specific areas of knowledge we excluded from the podcast. I for-see myself circling back to many of the articles we used with a new lens, seeking cues for how to introduce Indigenous pedagogy to undergraduate or graduate students while I try my hand at prioritizing some of the strategies that I have already mentioned in my SoTL snap shot, micro-teaching session, and in the podcast with Anna. A main next-step I have for myself, since I am currently a TA and not an instructor, is to support students in self-pacing their learning where possible. There are three ways I do this: negotiating with instructors for no late penalty for students in the majority of scenarios when students reach out to request extra time, providing students with resources that scaffolds their learning by either giving next steps for how to improve their grade or higher-lever resources that go beyond the parameters of a course, and by advocating for grading assignments by way of accounting for student growth, rather than meeting objective expectations. For this semester, this has worked well, but I imagine these goals taking on new forms in the future.

How the content of the podcasts related to or informed my teaching practice.

From listening to my peers’ podcasts, I learned about effective, evidenced-based teaching practices that support students’ motivations. In the podcast about effective teaching, they discussed one study about teaching of foreign language and the effectiveness of inductive, active learning, and interactive or integrated techniques that include the use of technology and visuals to support the shift in teaching from teacher-centred to student-centred. Regarding the study with 7 strategies for effective teaching, I learned something new: that communicating high expectations can be really effective for students’ learning. Both articles discussed active learning, respecting students as individuals with unique skills, preferences, and motivations, which, are all strategies that are reflected in the Papp (2020) article that I used throughout this semester. Papp’s article discussed student-centred pedagogy that supports students holistically by offering self-paced work opportunities, promoting Indigenous culture, and providing financial and familial support where necessary. Finally, my peers mentioned that the role of reciprocity and collaboration needs more attention – this is something that I the Papp article also discusses and something I modelled in my micro-teaching session.

Regarding the podcast about student motivation, I loved learning about the ABCRM acronym of autonomy, belongingness (something that connects with Indigenous pedagogies and that is well-documented in early learning pedagogies), competency (highly connected to early learning), and relatedness/meaningfulness (something that is also highly discussed in early learning through the use of emergent/responsive curriculum. This acronym is something I will keep in mind in my teaching practice because it already aligns with my teaching philosophy statement. Additionally, the idea of students using RRP and a whole class performing at once sounds so fun, which reminds my of the play-based pedagogy that I am so familiar with. It is no wonder why this increased feelings of autonomy that was mentioned, because that is part of the aim of play-based learning, since it is self-directed and voluntary. The role of co-operative learning in student motivation is something I feel like we have experienced a lot this semester with shared google docs and other methods of collaboration, which I plan to continue to use in my own teaching practice since I saw how effective it was.

How I can use SoTL literature to inform your teaching practice

I have already begun to consult SoTL literature to inform my teaching practice. I have been curious about the role of self-reflection in learning because I noticed how some spaces have prompted transformational change. In our last class I asked for how to learn more and was prompted to consult Mezirow’s work. From here, I learned of the stages of transformational learning: disorientation, self-reflection/examination/assessing assumptions, planning next steps including what resources are required, and building experience and confidence in trying out these new roles. Patricia Cranton adds to this conversation the critical role of consulting additional perspectives and the role of each learner as an individual. This demonstrates my comfort with exploring and understanding new areas within SoTL that are of interest to me in building my teaching practice. I plan to use what I learned from transformative learning in my teaching practice, but this has also taught me that I can now search the literature to find strategies or concepts that meet the unique needs of my students and support the situations in which I am teaching.

Challenge: one limitation I have noticed when I consult the SoTL literature, is that I would like to continue to engage in conversations with others about how to effectively use the strategies in various contacts and realities. It’s one thing to read about the use of these strategies in ideal situations or in different parts of the world, but I feel that it is important to continue to engage in considering how it can be applied in particular institutions.

My comfort with evaluating SoTL literature and understanding its relevance to your own teaching practice.

I have an emerging ability to evaluate the SoTL literature, and I have certainly seen this skill improve over the course of the semester. In my first draft of my SoTL Snapshot, I misinterpreted what the researchers did in the study (I think because I was not used to reading qualitative summaries of teaching strategies, rather than an evaluation of the strategies). This represented a poor ability to identify the key information in a resource, analyze its accuracy, and evaluate its relevance and appropriateness for the purposes of my snapshot/ use of the article. It took me some time to get oriented to the lingo and culture of the SoTL literature, and navigating several articles for the purposes of creating our podcast, communicating our information about pedagogy effectively, and making a meaningful contribution to SoTL conversations elevated my comfort and confidence in being able to wade through information related to SoTL. I have come to place in my journey where I now prefer to read about innovative strategies that support reimagining and decolonizing learning spaces rather than that quantitatively evaluate strategies in order that have broad, generalizable results. I am more interested in unique experiences that will help me navigate more specific problems or situations that I encounter in my teaching practice.

Future Plans. I have realized through writing this reflection that another thing I took away from the Effective Teaching Practices podcast was the reminder to evaluate the methods, analysis, and interpretation of SoTL articles. Being reminded that I can critically appraise SoTL literature supported me in using my graduate level training to determine the effectiveness of the strategies that were evaluated in the articles. I have been told that I have strong literature searching and synthesizing skills by my advisor, and I have therefore been wondering if I should take on a project in which I do a literature review on a SOTL concepts such as Indigenous pedagogy and experiential Learning, or the overlaps between early childhood education pedagogy’s and higher education strategies. I also have an emerging interest in starting a podcast about pedagogies. This interest was born from my experience in creating a podcast for this course, but further activated when I listen to some higher-ed podcasts. I immediately felt compelled to contribute to this kind of conversation with my own perspective, as well as to elevate other people’s voices and to use my skills of active listening, audio editing, and and literature searching to mobilize knowledge in society.

Learning goals

I adjusted my goals slightly in order to make them more aligned with the parameters of this course. They are listed here.

Goal 1: By the end of this semester, I will be facilitate a 10-minute interaction lesson with students through zoom. To achieve this, I will implement activities in my micro-teaching session, including menti, jamboard or kahoot, which ask the learners to contribute collaboratively to answering questions or reflect upon the information that is being discussed. If I can implement these tools, receive student engagement through their use of these tools, and if I am able to respond to my peers’ answers, I will feel I have achieved this goal.

Goal 2: By the end of this semester, I will improve my confidence and self-efficacy in terms of implementing one teaching strategy that is culturally responsive by being aligned with Indigenous pedagogical practices. To do this, I will review three peer-reviewed articles on Indigenous pedagogy and teaching approaches, and discuss them with my project partner for the podcast. I will feel successful in this goal if by the end of the semester I can describe, in detail, one teaching strategy that I can use virtually that is rooted in Indigenous pedagogy and that is appropriate for me, a white settler, to implement in a University class setting.

Goal 3: By the end of the semester, I will be able to discuss the considerations for creating assignment instructions that are rooted in universal design for learning and/or universal instructional design. For example, I will be able to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of including student choice in how they create/present their assignment, in order to support the engagement and expression elements of UDL. I hope to learn more about universally accessible learning strategies through this course (such as the “late bank” article from SoTL snapshot). My will keep a list of ways of strategies that I learn about, including how and when I might want to use them, can be incorporated into assignments that I have an influence in creating.

Meeting my goals.

I met my modified goals, but I also recognize I still have a long way to go before I feel like I can really use these skills in reality. I modified each of my goals slightly to better fit with the course expectations and assignments, and this allowed me to meet all three of these goals. I have documented why I couldn’t reach my goals in a previous reflection, and after getting feedback from Jessi I decided to adjust them to better fit the course, which is reflected above. I am now leaving the class with a high comfort in using collaborative technology to facilitate active learning (e.g., jam board or google docs), with one Indigenous pedagogical strategy I can describe and implement (prioritizing student knowledge and culture by supporting self-reflection in lessons), and a list of strategies that we discussed in class, read about in our readings, and/or learned from guest lecturers (as well as some advantages and disadvantages to know when and how to use each strategy). I have realized that there is value not only in evaluating my progress towards a goal, but keeping a goal a living document that can flex with the needs or resources available to me. It was really valuable seeing how I couldn’t reach my goals, but the logical next step was just to adjust these goals to be more achievable and realistic so that I can feel successful.

Challenge. I am left wondering how I can then scaffold my learning and maintain high expectations for myself and my learning journeys. Since I’ve met these goals, I feel like I need a challenge to continue forward in my learning journey. Therefore, I would like to create 3 new goals that I can work on over the summer semester that will extend the learning that has occurred in this course.

Future plans:

Goal 1: By September I would like to gather 10-20 articles that will help me draw connections between Indigenous pedagogies and experiential learning concepts that are captured in SoTL, with the purpose of working towards creating a literature review with a peer. I am particularly interested in place-based education, significant life experiences, and the role of the whole person in these pedagogies.

Goal 2: By September I would like to gather 10-20 articles that will help me draw connections between early childhood education and care practices and post-secondary education pedagogies. I am particularly interested in the role of belonging, how visibility can be brought to learning processes, hands-on/active learning, and responsive or emergent curriculum.

Goal 3: Decide if I have the resources to start a podcast about Play and Pedagogy whereby I would interview many educators and “experts” to discuss their pedagogical approaches, how they learned what they know, how they think learning happens, and what “knowledge” even is. I would like to linger on the boundaries of education, recreation, and occupation. My first barrier to doing this is understanding if there is funding available to produce the podcast and whether I can manage doing so during my Masters. This kind of journey would push me to learn about many areas of SoTL well beyond my comfort level, to evaluate many competing theories and practices, and to integrate this information into digestible content for listeners. Whether or not I end up starting a podcast is less important to me than the process of mapping out which topics and educators I would like to continue to have conversations with about SoTL, pedagogy, and playful learning, and deciding in which capacity I want to connect with them.

Overall, my plan is still applicable to me and I think by progressing into these three goals I will be able to extend my learning about Indigenous pedagogies, better understand how many instructors and educators facilitate active learning in various settings, and how educators strive for inclusive assessments in their many iterations over their career. This leads me in a slightly new direction than I had intended, but changing course when it feels right is an important part of my learning and research process.

Micro-teaching lesson: Changes I noticed and next steps to elevate my teaching practice.

As I reflected on in a previous post, I made many changes that resulted in the learners being able to meet the learning objectives. I also reflected on the role of practice, feedback, and how to support reflection during in-class activities. From these reflections I have realized I would like to commit to maintaining connections with peers as a way of having a Community of Practice to continue conversations about our teaching practices. Continuing to seek constructive feedback and help from others who are also interested in the scholarship of teaching and learning is how I hope I can continue to refine my pedagogical practice and continue to learn from the meaningful experiences that occurred during this semester.

Next steps to improve my teaching practice.

Some of my next steps are captured in the goals I listed above, but when I integrate these steps into the reflections I’ve had about my micro-teaching, I realize that pedagogy is not a private endeavour. I deeply believe that learning happens in healthy relationships, like in communities where individuals feel supported to active experiment with their knowledge and take risks/be wrong/grow from discomfort. This has deepened two of my pedagogical commitments: one, that I must continue my development through discussing pedagogy with peers, and two, that as an educator I can support student learning by providing opportunities for students to build long-lasting and meaningful connections to one another. I am still feeling unclear about how communities can be supported across a variety of classes regarding discipline, class size, and method of delivery, but I feel grounded in figuring this out as I go as part of my teaching practice.

Lessons learned that I will take into my future teaching practice.

I feel like I have identified and described many lessons learned that I will take into my future teaching practice. Most of these lessons involve an interest in delving deeper into the scholarship of teaching and learning, participating in research in this area, and acting as a researcher about my own teaching practice. I plan to gather many sources of evidence, as we discussed in week 11, to analyze my own teaching documents and methods as well as the learning that students are demonstrating – and whether the tasks and assessments I create even support students in making their learning visible. I was really inspired by our chat with Gavan, and I have started reading his posts on Twitter and his 3 teaching things newsletter. This course is a bit like another catalyst for my learning as an educator because I am now equipped to continue my learning journey about SoTL through the higher ed podcasts (I’ve been liking Teaching in Higher Ed), I started reading a copy of the Spark of Learning, and through many reflections I’ve realized that I might be interested in starting a podcast about some of the connections I see. Continuing to reflect through this blog will hopefully continue to extend and expand my learning and development.