Teachers around the world are impacted by COVID-19 in so many different ways. We are honoured to be able to share some stories from our colleagues overseas.
The Ministry of Education in New Zealand worked with partners to develop a package of options for children across the education sector learning at home. Supports were also prepared for households with children under five, to help parents and whānau keep their children engaged in learning through play.
Due to the fact that the school campus was not accessible due to legal lockdown closure rules made it illegal to enter school grounds, Robyn had to work with the Principal of the School to contact the Ministry, which also involved the Minister of Education. So special arrangements were made and Robyn booked in advance and a specific time to go on to the campus. Robyn entered the campus to access the database for all the individual addresses which were needed if all the children were to receive these early learning packages. It all proved to be a real drama, but with persistence all was achieved and I was able to transcribed all the addresses on to a paper copy from my mobile phone which contained photos of addresses!
What is right for one may not be for another. We may all do it differently and all of that is OK. Rhythm and ritual creates grounding, and gives the children safety. How can we recreate rituals via Storypark? While not physically connected we can stay heart connected through our communication.
GROWING A COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE....(COMMON-UNITY)
When you are in real relationships with people and you have common values, your community grows.
Michelle, and the other teachers from Whangamata Kindergarten, developed a 'Challenge Master Room', where teachers created challenges for the children and whaanau. The challenges included creating mini-worlds, obstacle courses, ephemeral art, fairy houses etc. None of these challenges required anyone to buy anything special - think reuse, recycle, repurpose.
As a teaching team, we were thinking about how we could maintain strong connections and stay in relationship with the tāmariki and their Whānau over the rāhui period. For our newest children, who had only just started at Kindy, it felt really important to keep building on the relationships we had just started to form. We spent much of the Tuesday and Wednesday, before rāhui started, creating videos that could be posted on storypark and youtube. We hoped these would offer some additional reassurance and familiarity, in what felt like uncertain times.
I really feel that the lockdown experience has afforted a deepening of relationship with our parents and whānau. I think the sharing of our reflections and the communication we had through Storypark and on the phone with our families has added another layer of richness and connection. Isn't it ironic that isolation and separation has actually helped bring us closer!
I spent nine days focussing on the topic about observing the children. I shared my Learning Stories with nearly 700 teachers who came online from all over the country. When I concentrated on one thing, I can forget the virus and remember my identity , I found and remembered the pleasure as a teacher.
Roskill South Kindergarten, Auckland, NZ
Karen Ramsey, Kim Parkinson, Nadine Priebs and Yasu Sakamoto
We are very happy to share a little of our documentation that relates to the period of Covid-19 . We will share a teacher reflection around the Rahui (Māori name of lockdown). Also two pieces of documentation written by a grandmother, that Nadine the teacher has responded to, as well as the documentation written for this child by Karen on return to the centre after lockdown.
We also have another 4 Learning Stories to share that document the return of children on their first day back after lockdown.
Dr. Annie White, Assistant Professor of Education, Early Childhood Studies
California State University Channel Islands, USA
I have been impacted by COVID-19 in several ways. As a university instructor, abruptly, I lost all face to face contact with students to embark on a new journey with weekly online Zoom class meetings. It has been tricky to hold space and still deliver academic content for the students' who have faced so many challenges. I have tried to find the fulcrum as I have endeavored to balance listening, caring, providing resources, all while trying to humanize online instruction.
These past couple of months we have lived through an extraordinary slice of history. We asked some of our leaders and readers in early childhood to share their reflections on this moment in time and the value and importance of human relationships.
Isauro has agreed to share this very moving sequence of both his thoughts and feelings during this time, his COVID_19 focussed Learning Story and the beautiful responses from friends and colleagues around the world. This documentation is both poignant and powerful and I am deeply grateful of his courage to share his vulnerability and insights at this time. Isauro, muchas gracias, abrazos, Wendy.
What an absolutely fabulous first week back we have had here at GELC. The children have all been so happy and calm, kind and thoughtful. We know exactly why this is... you, their amazing whānau have filled their emotional tanks with love and fun during the nearly 8 weeks of lockdown. This time with you has allowed them to find their inner strength, their bravery and their love of adventure. Thank you all so much for your awesomeness. We have so enjoyed our week back with them and we look forward to another fun week ahead.
Although this is quite an unnerving time for the world, this situation is also a great opportunity for us to focus on what we truly value. It’s given us the chance to slow down our often fast-paced lives & focus on what’s important; family & health.
Alison Gopnik that states, “What children observe most closely, explore most obsessively & imagine most vividly are the people around them. There are no perfect toys. There is no magic formula. Parents & other caregivers teach young children by paying attention & interacting with them naturally & most of all by just allowing them to play”. I believe this quote captures the beauty & significance of our current circumstance. Our tamariki are observing their parents/role models & are acting like sponges, taking in all this knowledge. Our tamariki are currently in the environment where they feel their most secure & happy, so their brains are ready to learn alongside their parents as they get involved in the ‘real work’ that is taking place at home.
Our people, our parents and caregivers, some of which didn’t have that choice to stay at home when NZ moved into Level 4, Lockdown. Creators was named by the Ministry Of Education to continue providing at home care for children who required care during the pandemic, they were children of essential workers, braver than brave, being dropped off to their educator as their ‘adults’ went out to work daily. Homebase childcare provides the foundation for strong reciprocal relationships to flourish between tamariki, educators, parents and whanau within tight communities, and for this we were grateful in such times. Children were attending care daily with adults who knew the child, delivering strong loving relationships that contributed to settled children.
SALSA Board Secretary (Supporting the Advancement of Learning Stories in America)
Christine shares a Learning Story she wrote at the beginning of lockdown, titled 'Out My Window'.
"We are all learning about how resilient we can be in the face of extreme difficulties. These families are doing the best they can to cope. They are making time to get outside and offer the children a change of environment and some exercise. This is significant to mental and physical health. I do not know any details of the families’ context or situation that brought them to be walking down my street when they did – I only know that I am extremely fortunate to live in the neighborhood that I do, where it is safe, clean and welcoming for families to walk. I do not take this for granted and I recognize the privilege of my social class status and to be living in this way."
Altyngul Taibassarova, Kindergarten Teacher
It was so lovely to hear from Altyngul Taibassarova. Altyngul lives in Astana, now Nur-Sultan the capital of Kazakhstan. She is currently involved in establishing a new kindergarten 'Abadan Kindergarten and Family Centre' which will have three languages of instruction (Kazakh, Russian and English).