Everything I Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten

The other evening, I was having over-drinks conversation amongst mixed professionals and it came out that I teach five year olds. “That’s cool, I mean, everything I ever needed to know, I learned in kindergarten” was immediately quipped back at me citing the 1988 essay by minister Robert Fulghum. My innards suddenly flip-flopped, and not because of the sensitivities of my stomach to the merlot, or my atheistic brain of the connection between my profession, nay- my calling, to the ancient musing of a minister but because of something else I couldn’t quite place my finger on.

Walking home later, I thought about it, did all I ever really need to know I learned as a five year old? Did the premise hold true 24 years after Fulghum’s essay was written? No, the answer is simply, no.

We live in a shifting paradigm in which we are teaching children who are learning for jobs that don’t even exist. We are teaching children who have connectivity with the entire world and who, by the time I had mastered tying my shoes and figured out to not lick light bulbs, will have learned to make their own apps and programs.

It has become our mandate to teach not just sharing and caring, but also coding. The onus is on teachers to develop the skills and aptitudes needed to integrate technology as an integral part of their teaching and learning cycle.

So teachers, get out of your comfort zone and into the place where the magic happens (yes, I said magic- but purely in a literary-parlancey kind of way).

There are many new and interesting ways that technology can be used for collaboration, communication and creation within the learning environment. Teachers are using Pinterest boards such as http://pinterest.com/edpublishing/ to post innovative tech for the classroom. Blogs such as, http://www.edutopia.org/blogs and http://www.teachthought.com/ as well as tech hubs such as, http://www.scoop.it/t/technology-in-education are dedicated to providing resources, inspirations and practical tips for use of technology integration.

My own learning environment is Reggio inspired and PYP driven, and the focus for technology is on playfulness and creativity. Children use the iPad to capture photos and create short films of learning adventures with http://animoto.com/, they make their own super heroes on http://cpbherofactory.com/ and then write and tell stories about their adventures through a puppet show app, http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/puppet-pals-hd/id342076546?mt=8. We enlist the older learners as teachers and invite them into our classroom every few weeks to showcase a new skill, app, or site that they have learned about. This benefits our older learners by synthesizing their understanding through teaching and the younger students by gaining valuable skills. More importantly, it teaches both groups that the use of technology does not have to be contained within a solitary bubble.

Perhaps it is not Fulghum’s essay that should be the go-to statement of early childhood education but rather, Jane Cowen-Fletcher’s children’s story, It Takes a Village. Now more then ever it takes a village to teach a class of children. No teacher has encyclopedic knowledge of the world, but the Internet does. The world is our village, the globe our community. We need to model for students that teachers are also life-long learners by embracing the skills and aptitudes we need to develop as we experience the shift in our profession. Technology gives us opportunities, outlooks and access that we simply did not have in our own kindergarten classrooms. It is a whole new world of learning.

So, what technology will you integrate into your teaching and learning cycle today?

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It seemed like a good idea at the time

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

I had started reading education blogs as a tool for professional development. Not only was I learning from great blogs like this but also I was inspired. I wanted to start my own blog but I didn’t think I had the time to write enough posts to maintain an audience. I also questioned my knowledge. I am not a rookie at the inquiry game but I still have more questions than I do answers. Though I assume that’s how many of us feel.

So I thought back to my days at Bonn International School. I’m not sure I was aware at the time how lucky I was to be surrounded by so many brilliant, motivated and inspiring educators. They were dedicated and innovative, always seeking out the practice that was best. They also instilled in me a sense of collegial sharing. There was no competition, only support and encouragement. So I thought I would call upon all these people to once again inspire and educate me, and invite others to learn from them as well.

These brilliant people are curriculum coordinators, ICT coaches, deputy principals, early childhood educators, heads of student support services, ICT coordinators, team leaders, publishers, and elementary school teachers.

So once everyone was on board I went about trying to write my first post. It was at that point I realized what I was up against. Writing to an audience is daunting. I have three different posts started and all have been pushed aside because I either lost my momentum or forgot the thought I was trying to express.

So what seemed like a good idea at the time suddenly appears more intimidating. But that’s why I’ve brought my friends along for the ride.

Enjoy what’s to follow and be inspired.

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