Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The Possibilities of Paint - Ideas for At Home


Let's talk about paint!


For some people, the idea of painting at home with their young child is exciting. For other people, it is intimidating. For almost everyone, the word "messy" probably comes to mind.

At the same time, part of what is wonderful about paint is its possibility for expression. The exploration of gesture, color, and (especially with thicker paints) texture is a beautiful outlet for anyone (not just children), and can be an excellent way to center ourselves in the moment. This can lead to messiness, but, to me, the value of what is at work behind the messiness far outweighs the momentary stress of having to clean up a painty child.

So how do you set up paint at home in a way that feels manageable while still allowing your child freedom to actually explore the material? What if you don't have a ton of art supplies lying around? How can I be a part of my child's paint experience without taking it over?

Let's talk about these things!


Minimizing Mess

What can I handle?
Before setting up, think a bit about how much "mess" you feel comfortable with. Are you willing to risk some paint getting on the floor or a cabinet? What about paint getting on your child/their clothes/your clothes? Answering these questions honestly can help you decide what sort of experience you want to curate.

Choosing a setting:
A few options for setting up include...
- seated at a table
- in a dedicated space on the floor 
- outside (if it is warm enough and an outdoor space is available)
- in the tub (for super easy clean-up)
- at an easel or upright space (if you don't have an easel, you can take paper onto the refrigerator, kitchen cabinet, or wall)

Selecting your wardrobe:
No matter what the set-up, I would suggest that you (the adult) wear clothes that you don't mind getting painty!
For your child, you can choose between stripping to a diaper or undies OR putting on some paint-friendly clothes (either their own clothes that you don't mind getting messy or - my personal fave - an oversized t-shirt).

Protecting surfaces: 
Whether you are using a table or the floor, it is helpful to have something underneath your painting area to both protect whatever surface your painting on AND to define the space visually. Some possible materials to use for covering your floor or table include:
- a canvas dropcloth
- a table cloth
- a tarp
- a sheet
- large sheets of newspaper or other paper
- a towel (less ideal for table due to the thickness)
- parchment paper or plastic wrap (for table)

Prepare for clean-up:
It is helpful to set up near a bathroom or kitchen in order to be close to the sink, but whether or not this is possible, you can still be ready for clean-up by keeping these things close by!
- damp washcloths (some children might want one nearby to use as they go)
- a bowl or bin to put paint supplies in when finished (add water and soap and you now have a water activity!)
- a towel (to wrap up a messy kiddo)


Collecting Supplies: Recipes, Inspiration, and More


Paints
If you have washable tempera paint or watercolor paints (either liquid watercolor or a palette of dry color), these are excellent options to use at home. If you don't have either of these, never fear - you can make your own paint! Both of these paints are thick and fun to use for textural explorations. They will last for a few weeks if refrigerated. Offer them in small cups or bowls, in an ice cube tray, or straight onto the paper!

No-cook Flour + Salt Paint
-Mix together 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of salt.
- Slowly mix in 1/2 cup of water.
- Once smooth, divide into containers and add food coloring or liquid watercolor for color.

Cooked Finger Paint
-Stir 1/2 cup of flour with 1 cup of water in a pot over medium heat until it becomes a paste-like consistency and begins to pull away from the pot.
- Add a pinch of salt.
- Add 1/4 cup (or more as needed) of cold water to get your desired consistency.
- Divide into containers and add food coloring or liquid watercolor.

Painting Tools
Although brushes are the traditional tool for painting, they are by no means the only thing you can use! Here are a few other ideas for things to set out with your paint:
- cups or jars, spoons, and popsicle sticks for mixing colors
- leaves, flowers, pinecones, rocks (to use as paint tools or be painted on!)
- chopsticks, q-tips, sticks, combs, and forks for making lines through thick paint
- lids, spools, and other loose parts to use as stamps
- toy vehicles to make tracks through paint
- cotton-balls
- coffee filters
- sponges (as is or cut into shapes)
- droppers
- squeeze bottles
- and fingers of course!

Parent as Partner
So your paint experience is all set... but what should YOU do as your child paints? Here are a few suggestions:
- Paint on your own paper or collaboratively (if your child is so inclined) while echoing your child's movements - let them be the teacher! 
- Paint nearby to offer simple suggestions for how to use the materials (such as how to drag a comb to make lines, press a painted flower onto paper to make a print, or create a pattern using different colors or shapes). 
- Assume the role of documentarian and prop master - focus on taking pictures (and even taking notes if you want to try it!) and having extra paint, tools, and paper at the ready.
- Start in the abstract rather than jumping in to representational paintings (this can easily distract children from their work as they become more invested in what you are doing).

A few tips if children want you to paint for them or get discouraged because "yours is better":
- Gently say that you are not going to paint for them, but would be happy to show them how you did a certain technique for them to try. Walk them through it, with lots of encouragement. Then find something that you would like them to teach you how to do.
- Remind them that you have lived a lot longer than them and have had a lot more opportunities to practice! This is a great opportunity for them to start practicing, too.

**Also, check out these posts for preschool, toddler, and infant parents!**

Be well and enjoy!
Katie & Nova



Tuesday, March 24, 2020

What to do with Water? - Ideas for At Home

Have you ever wished that you had a sensory table at home? Well here are a few ideas for how to set up a water exploration space! You can go as simple or as elaborate as you would like, and there are several ways you can tailor what you offer to fit your space and the interests and age of your child! Of course, you could always explore other sensory materials in similar set-ups, but since water is something we all have access to, that is what I will focus on here.



Style #1: Simple and Spontaneous
   
The basic idea: find a wide, open bin or container with a flat bottom, fill it with water, and put it on the floor on top of a towel. This is something that I've pulled out multiple times when Nova has decided that all she wants to do is play with the cat's water dish. When she was still a baby, I used a ceramic baking dish (see above), because it had lower sides that she could reach over easily, and it was a little heavier and harder for her to slide around or accidentally tip over (kudos to former teacher Seana Williamson for the original inspiration). Now that she is a toddler, I have been using a plastic bin that is deeper and less breakable. 



 Style #2: Water Exploration Station



The basic idea: take the container described in the section above, elevate it, and add more surface space for transferring water. Maybe you have a child-level table that will hold your water bin, or maybe (like me) you have a ton of cardboard boxes still hanging around from when you moved. Place your container on top of whatever surface you choose in order to bring it to a good height for your child to be able to scoop and dump. It is nice to have extra space along the side for other containers to be added or for setting down utensils that aren't in use. I put together the above set-up in a matter of minutes yesterday by taping the water bin to a cardboard box with packing tape (I probably didn't really need to do this, but I figured better safe than sorry), lining the leftover box surface with a kitchen towel, and adding another plastic bin with the lid still on as additional "counter space."

What goes with water? - Material Suggestions

Now that you have your "water table," here are a few ideas for different types of set-ups you can create.

Cooking and Mixing: bowls, whisks, measuring spoons, measuring cups, ladles, muffin tins... basically whatever you want to grab out of the kitchen

Fluid Dynamics: funnels, containers of different heights and sizes (preferably clear or translucent), scoops, droppers, basters

Paper Pulp: sheets of paper (ripped up or not) to submerge in the water; you can also offer surfaces to place the pulp to dry, such as plastic-wrap lined cooling racks or bowls to create dome sculptures. Just playing with the strange squishiness of wet paper can be pretty fun on its own, too.

Color Experiments: small containers of different colors with spoons or droppers (or squeeze bottles if you have them!) full of colored water (I like to use liquid watercolor paint, since it is washable); or freeze ice cubes with different colored water, then add them into the clear water to watch it change.

Bubbles: there are lots of tips for making bubble solution if you want to actually blow bubbles, but if you just want sudsy water, any dish soap will do. Combine with materials for stirring up more foam (whisks are great for this) and scooping and transferring it. If you are trying to blow actual bubbles, you can make some bubble blowing tools at home, too.

Nature's Gifts: Combining natural materials with water is always great fun. Rocks, shells, leaves, pinecones (watch what happens if you submerge dry pinecones in water for awhile - it's fascinating!), flowers, etc. can all lead to interesting games in the water table. If you have any large rocks, it can be interesting to try brushing water onto their surfaces and seeing how the color changes.

Mix and Match: And of course, any of the above ideas can be combined!



A few general tips:
- Put at least one towel on the floor AND have an extra on hand to wipe up additional spills. 

- Set up in the kitchen if possible - if not, try to be near the kitchen or bathroom so you have easy access to a sink for either getting more water or pouring water out, as well as materials for clean up.

- It's okay to set limits, AND it's fun to look for possibilities! For instance, one day Nova started to transport water across the kitchen to her pretend cooking area, leaving a trail of drips across the floor. I ushered her back over to the water-play zone, while also bringing some of her play pots and pans back with us so she could include them in her water experience.

- You can decide how "permanent" you would like it to be. Maybe you create a set-up that you leave out for a few days or more. Maybe you keep your materials tucked in a corner to pull out as needed. Maybe you set something out, then put it all away when you are done because the last thing you need is more piles cluttering up the house. Do what works for you!


- Start out simple - you can always add more later! Both at home and at work, I often have an extra element set aside to bring out when interest starts to wane (such as the colored ice cubes seen above). This helps to extend the experience!

I hope this offers you some ideas for your days at home!

Be well,
Katie (and Nova)

#Beautyinthischaos

Dear PTCC community (and beyond),

Just as so many things have shifted as a result of the current international health crisis, so too are we going to shift to using this blog in a different way. We will be posting some of the beautiful things that staff have been creating as a result of their time working from home - read-aloud videos, tutorials and ideas for projects at home, reflections on readings, and more. We hope this will help us stay connected, make the work of teachers visible to others in our community, and also make it easier to access the content being created. The hashtag in the title comes from a former PTCC teacher, Seana Williamson, who is encouraging people to share exactly that - the beauty they are finding in this chaotic time. We would like to think that these offerings from teachers are one instance of such beauty.

Cheers,
Katie, Kendra, and the PTCC staff



Tuesday, January 15, 2019

An Anti-bias Work Team at PTCC

This year Peabody Terrace Children's center has an Anti-bias Education Work Team. It is composed of veteran PTCC teachers eager to spend the year learning skills and content necessary to create emergent anti-bias curriculum with children, colleagues and families in this way. Our work team is shaped by the participants, but the administrators and I created some structure to define it.


Our learning goals.
Every member will be able to:
  • Assess and increase our understanding of our own racial identity, biases, privileges and areas of growth.
  • Recognize bias in the systems in which we play a part
  • Work together to support systemic change; here at PTCC and elsewhere.
  • Appropriately talk to adults and children about what we know.
The administrative team has charged this work team to:


  • Create a strong, shared definition for “anti-bias education”
  • Pursue internal and external research to answer a question relevant to our work
  • Assess our center’s anti-bias practice
  • Develop shared goals/plan for institutional change
  • Create examples of in-depth, pro-active, multi-disciplinary, anti-bias education at PTCC
The anti-bias work team is made up of teachers who...


Have worked here for at least a year. To honor the special work of teachers in their first year at a new school we are only opening this learning opportunity to more veteran teachers.


Want to read, watch, listen and learn on our own time. We expect teachers to put our professional development hours toward this effort because it requires significant learning.


Are ready to try new anti-bias teaching strategies and practices in their classroom. Like our students, we learn by doing.We support one another as we take risks together.


Can share our learning with the community. "Each one teach one." is an African American proverb that comes to us from enslaved African people who taught one another literacy and other skills and practices to resist and escape enslavement. These words may have been brought to this continent by their captured ancestors who held knowledge as a liberatory gift that comes with an obligation to share with others. This sustaining belief and effective strategy supported civil rights organizers and others working for justice. In this tradition, we will share our learning with our community; through conversations, team meetings, documentation, and a culminating presentation.


Structure:
We meet once a month to learn and reflect. We've decided to use John Nimmo and Debbie LeeKeenan's Strategic Planning process from their book Leading Anti-bias Early Childhood Programs; A Guide for Change.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Sight & Sound


Surrounded by mylar and paper, every movement makes a sound.

This year, we are exploring SOUND throughout our center as our umbrella project. This has, of course, taken different forms in different classrooms. In the infant rooms, the emphasis has been on offering materials that make sounds when manipulated – crinkly mylar and paper, drums, shakers, etc. The teachers have also been paying attention to the sounds that the babies make, as well as the specific sounds (both in the classroom environment and elsewhere) that the babies seem to notice and investigate. Many of the toddler rooms have been thinking about sound in relation to instruments, singing, and performing in one way or another – from an interest in the Beatles that developed from a love of “Yellow Submarine,” to trying to identify musical instruments and artists from sound alone, to being in a band themselves, to creating their own instruments. One group of toddler teachers, noticing the ways in which the sounds animals make were an important signifier for their children (who love animals), have begun to listen to animal sounds with the children as a way of continuing this thread.  Another group has been thinking about the way sound relates to cause and effect – when something happens (a ball rolling through a tube, a toy dropped on the ground, a shovel of sand dumped into a bowl), there is often a sound that accompanies it. The preschoolers’ investigations included exploring the different sounds that paper can make when it is manipulated in different ways during some visits to the Studio, as well as games with trying to match different sounds and experiments with how sound travels and changes through different materials.
Paper becomes an instrument.

Recently, I have been thinking about the way that sight and sound are linked. This first popped into my head back in December when I went on a nighttime river walk with a group of children and their teacher. It was dark (daylight savings style), and we brought flashlights with us to light our way. Part of our discussion as we walked along was about looking for animals who might be hiding or nesting nearby. As we made our way down to the riverbank, we shined our flashlights back and forth into the trees and grasses, looking for creatures. Did we see any? No. But something else happened – the children began to hear things. Rather than the usual process of pointing at things to ask “What is that?,” the children were cocking their heads and asking, “What is that sound?” They were noticing noises that weren’t necessarily new (cars rushing by on the road, branches knocking together in the wind, water lapping at the shore, geese honking in the distance), but that had gone unremarked in the light of day. This brought to mind that idea that “losing” or dampening one sense causes the others to be sharpened. With less visibility, the children were relying more on their hearing to explore and “see” the world around them.

Shining a light to try to identify a sound in the bushes.
This idea of “seeing” with your ears rather than your eyes actually goes much deeper than this. The research of Lore Thaler, Stephen Arnott, and Melvyn Goodale has found that the use of echolocation by some blind people actually activates their visual cortex, essentially helping them to create a sort of image in their brain through the use of sound. The artist Neil Harbisson, transformed the different colors of the spectrum (and some that are even beyond human vision) into audible frequencies, allowing him to effectively “listen” to them. There have actually been studies that show a consistent correlation between music, emotion, and color for listeners, suggesting that these associations are culturally significant in the US and Mexico, and, perhaps, with time may be found to be universal.  This, for me, connects to a provocation that I have often offered to children over the years: listening to music and thinking about it visually. What sorts of lines or movements would you make with a paintbrush on paper to capture this song? What colors would you choose for this music?

One of the things that I value about an umbrella project is that it offers us a unique lens through which to look at (and listen to!) children's play. Because of our emphasis on sound this year, I have found myself picking up on the ways in which this topic has surfaced in children's play and conversations, and I know many other teachers have as well. It also has led me to make connections between the things that happen day to day at school and my understanding of sound in the broader world, much in the same way that our curriculum for children strives to relate to their lives beyond our walls. I think the next step for many of us this year and in years to come is to take these individual moments and conversations and build upon them, deepening our exploration of sound into something beyond noticing and questioning and into hypothesizing, experimenting, and theorizing.

What possible "next steps" could you imagine for the children who went on the night walk? For children who are interested in different instruments and performance? For infants who are encountering many materials for the first time? 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Our first Umbrella Project!




Investigating Together:

Exploring the Charles River as a Center

“Learning and teaching should not stand on opposite banks and just watch the river flow by; instead, they should embark together on a journey down the water. Through an active, reciprocal exchange, teaching can strengthen learning how to learn.”
-       Loris Malaguzzi


The idea of embarking on an umbrella project came from work that is done in both Reggio Emilia, Italy and in the Sabot School at Stony Point in Richmond, Virginia. It is a center-wide investigation undertaken by children & teachers that continues throughout the year, in various forms both big and small. Together as a center, we defined what the topic of an umbrella project might be:

“A compelling, enticing, accessible, physical thing, event, place or idea (a noun) that elicits a emotional and metaphysical response between people. A catalyst with opportunities for investment in deep, dynamic connections, new ideas (growth).”

 For our first umbrella project (which we investigated during our 2016-2017 school year), we chose the subject of the Charles River – a unique and beautiful piece of nature in the midst of our urban surroundings. The river has always been a part of our school’s landscape – it can be seen through the Studio and T2North windows, and it is a location for occasional walks – and this year we sought to strengthen our relationship with and understanding of it through this investigation. For many classrooms, even the act of allowing children to get out of the buggy by the river was a revelation in itself. For others, the process of returning again and again led children to ask for and recognize just what a “river walk” meant. In addition, our attention and consciousness of the river opened our eyes to the way in which it changed over the course of the year – from the blooming flowers in summer, to the falling of the leaves in autumn, to the freezing of the water in winter, to the appearance of goslings in the spring. 


In order to share just a fragment about what I found to be a powerful center-wide experience, I used some of the headings from Ann Pelo’s book, TheGoodness of Rain: Developing an Ecological Identity in Young Children : walk the land, learn the names, embrace sensuality, explore new perspectives, create stories, and create rituals. Pelo describes these as ways in which we can foster children’s relationship with and stewardship of the natural world, and I believe they were all present in our investigation this past year. 

Walk the Land ------------------
Returning again and again to the river throughout the year allowed us to broaden our knowledge of its terrain. We learned the best places for children to throw rocks and sticks, or to look out over the river, to collect, to watch boats, or to gather flowers. Children grew familiar with the landmarks they would pass on the walk to and from the Charles. Teachers marked the evolution of children’s ability to traverse the challenges of uneven ground, long grass, mud, and tree roots.

At the beginning of the year, the prospect of walking along the river was a bit daunting for some. Many classrooms began with buggy and stroller rides, not yet venturing to let the children down to explore. However, over time, both teachers and children became more comfortable with the river and its banks, finding places where they felt safe to investigate beyond the buggy. Even our youngest infants spent time sitting, laying down, or crawling near the river. Building a relationship with this place allowed us to broaden our comfort zones  and place more trust and autonomy in children.

Create Rituals --------------------

Over our year of visiting and revisiting the river, many classrooms developed rituals to help build community and to strengthen children’s connections with place. In some cases, this took the form of finding a “spot” that a group would visit during each trip to the river. A gated ledge that allowed children to view the river up close without fear of actually entering the water became a favorite place for many to search for sticks to throw in on each walk. One classroom always stopped to look at the “turtle stone” that they passed on the walk to and from the river. For some children, it was important that everyone have a turn to push the crosswalk button as we waited a the juncture of memorial drive and DeWolfe street.

Embrace Sensuality --------------------
The sound of waves lapping after a boat has passed… the honking of geese… the feel of wind against your face or the sun on your back… the smell of autumn leaves, of chamomile buds, of daffodils… the softness of milkweed seeds… the prickle of burdock and sweet gum pods....  the sour taste of sorrel … the spicy taste of wild chives…

The river invited us to explore with all of our senses. We opened our ears to the sounds(after hearing a jet ski zoom back and forth, one child remarked, “It’s like a motorcycle!), and our skin to the feel of the  river’s offerings. Our eyes took in the many delights on display – the colors of autumn and spring, the ice and snow of the winter. We searched out opportunities to smell and taste where we could. Each visit became so much more than a walk – it was a full-body experience.

Explore new Perspectives ---------------
Our commitment to the Charles River led us to witness its beauty through a variety of lenses and from a variety of places. We watched it through windows, through the pillars of the John Weeks footbridge, and up close on its banks. We represented it in multiple media, and we took note of the ways the river itself changed through the seasons.

Visiting the river also offered teachers an opportunity to take on a child’s point of view. Infant teachers wondered at the view of the trees a baby might see lying on their back. Toddler teachers noticed how a seemingly small hill provided a real challenge to children still learning to walk. Preschool teachers shared the joy of being able to gather flowers without the restrictions of more manicured environments. The sight of a goose on its nest or a snail on the path brought as much excitement and interest to the adults as to the children.

Learn the Names ---------------------
As we move beyond the generic names of nature – bird, flower, leaf – into the specific, we are building our relationship with the natural word, just as we would a person. Over the course of the year, children and teachers across our center developed a greater intimacy with many of the things we encountered near the river.

Young toddlers came to know the difference between a goose and a swan, while older children (and teachers!) grew knowledgeable about some of the plants that grow on the riverbanks (“Watch out for burdock – it’s so sticky!”). We revisited these things in a variety of ways – not only on the walks themselves, but by bringing remnants into our rooms through photographs, collections, drawings, and field guides.

Create Stories ----------------------------
As we build relationships with a place, we begin to collect stories about it. We remember the things that we have seen, the special encounters we have had, and the changes we have noticed as a result of our kinship with this landscape. Through our documentation, teachers remind children of these stories and share them with those who were not present.

One example of the development of a story came early on in the year. Many children spent time painting under a large oak tree near the footbridge. Then, one day, some other children discovered that part of the tree had cracked and fallen. Over the next few days, children from many different classrooms encountered the tree in various stages of removal –from branches being cut to a stump in the ground, to an empty patch of dirt. This is a story that many preschoolers still remember and will reminisce about as we cross Memorial Drive.

----------------------------------------
This year, we are exploring sound as a center. Stay tuned - I'm sure there will be posts about it as the year progresses!

- Katie 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Anti-Bias Education is Not a Concept or a Skill, it's a Learning Disposition

Last Wednesday, we welcomed fifty educators as part of Boston Area Reggio Inspired Network’s 2017 series. We reflected upon how we’ve brought liberatory teaching into our own practice, and planned strategic next steps using Margaret Carr’s structured view of learning dispositions.



Learning Dispositions are “situated learning strategies plus motivation”.
-Margaret Carr, Learning Stories; Assessments in Early Childhood


Teaching and learning are situated within a specific group of people with a variety of identities and within our larger contexts; our classrooms, communities, nation and world. Anti-bias teaching starts out haphazard and ad hoc sometimes but before long we realize our work must be strategic to stay accountable to our goals. We are motivated to do this learning and teaching by its obvious urgency; children’s worldview, culture and safety can be at stake.


“Becoming is better than being”


Carol Dweck’s “process goals” and “performance goals” describe two different approaches to learning, and it is crucial that we are not perfectionists in the work of education for freedom. Dweck researches learners’ orientations to errors and other challenges. Learners with “performance goals” and a fixed mindset want to get it just right without effort. They want to “be” smart or strong, but dislike making mistakes, and feel uncomfortable with the struggle it takes to “become” smart or strong. “Process goal” learners have a growth mindset and seem to enjoy struggle, and recognize that good outcomes; the right answer, for example, or a new skill, come out of hard work and mistakes. They are willing to do what is needed to “become” better.


We can’t wait for anti-bias education until we are ready, worry about achievement or get it right the first time. We can only counter bias through the invaluable process of becoming more knowledgeable, more open, more awake, more willing to act and move through our errors with humility.  Because biases and unfairness are in the world, they are in our classroom and in us.  We will struggle and we must be ready to listen when folks tell us that we’ve made mistakes.


We need a view of learning that sees “development as the transformation of participation” (Carr, again, naturally). These domains take a process orientation for granted and measure that process through a narrative built of observations.


She identifies five domains of a learning disposition:
Taking an Interest,
Getting Involved,
Persisting with Challenge or Uncertainty,
Expressing thoughts and feelings and
Taking Responsibility.
These domains are a perfect way for us to understand our own growth as teachers for liberation.

Learning from History
Many years ago, I asked our mostly white staff to self-identify; whether they knew nothing, something or were experts about anti-bias curriculum. Everyone RAN over to the “experts” part of the spectrum. (I didn’t know what I didn’t know about people’s poor ability to accurately appraise themselves about things they don’t know much about, and I underestimated the personal drama of being asked to do it publicly.) People in the “expert” area explained themselves;  “I have an Asian neighbor.” or “I don’t see color.”

These folks were beginners, but they thought they were experts. I learned from my mistake; this time, we used Carr's domains as an objective yardstick to help us figure out what kind of learning we’ve done and what kind we are headed into.


After a short presentation about our collective journey with anti-bias education at Peabody Terrace Children’s Center, we used a protocol to create our individual narratives of engagement with anti bias education and reflect.


Then, we brought in the key element of feedback. We shared our stories with others and they helped us determine which of the learning domains we were working within. Finally, well-informed, we identified for ourselves what kinds of actions might help us move forward from where we are.


Domains of Learning Dispositions:
Learners taking an interest are developing:
  • A view of self as interested and interesting,
  • Interests,
  • Expectations that people, places and things can be interesting,
  • Abilities and funds of relevant knowledge that support their interests.
Learners getting involved are developing:
  • A view of self as someone who gets involved.
  • Readiness to be involved, pay attention for a sustained length of time
  • Informed judgments about the safety and trustworthiness of the local environment, Strategies for getting involved and remaining focused.
Learners persisting with difficulty or uncertainty are developing:
  • A view of self as someone who persists with difficulty and uncertainty
  • Enthusiasm for persisting with difficulty or uncertainty,
  • Assumptions about risk and the role of making a mistake in learning
  • Sensitivity to places and occasions in which it is worthwhile to tackle difficulty or uncertainty and to resist the routine.
  • Problem-solving and problem-finding knowledge and skills,
  • Experience of making mistakes as part of solving a problem
Learners communicating with others are developing:
  • A view of self as a communicator.
  • The inclination to communicate with other in one or more of the 100 Languages, to express ideas and feelings,
  • Responses to a climate in which learners have their say and are listened to,
  • Facility with one or more languages, familiarity with a range of context specific ‘genres,’ script knowledge for familiar events.
Learners taking responsibility are developing:
  • A habit of taking responsibility in a range of ways, to take another point of view, to recognize justice and injustice, a view of self and others as citizens with rights and responsibilities,
  • Recognition or construction of opportunities to take responsibility
  • Experience of responsibility, making decisions, being consulted, an understanding of fairness, strategies for taking responsibility
(Adapted from table 2.1, in Margaret Carr’s Assessment in Early Childhood Settings: Learning Stories)


As someone who thinks not only about individual development, but also about how our organization grows and changes, these domains also helped me to see which domain our center is exploring. We have firmly established interest, involvement, persistence and communication about anti-bias teaching. We are on the edge of taking responsibility; this is our next frontier. This framework takes for granted a "growth mindset" and in situating teachers' development within the realm of learning dispositions, it is my hope that teachers work to let go of their hangups that come with performance goals.
Does this structure help with some of the feelings of unsettledness, inertia, or hopelessness that sometimes accompany this work?

How could we use this way of understanding with families?