I sadly waved goodbye to Canadian soil and the lovely people that I met there, embarked on an aeroplane, flew through the air (for 18 hours no less!) and arrived in Kathmandu. After sorting out my visa in the airport, I walked out into a big crowd of people and was met by my husband Thom and our hotel host. Our host had kindly driven his motorbike to meet us and helped to arrange a taxi. After only a few minutes in the taxi we quickly realised just how lost we could have become in the windy, close streets with virtually no signposts!
Exploring Kathmandu was an exciting adventure. It is a city like no other I have been to. The concrete buildings are squeezed together in a higgledy piggledy way and there are tiny, narrow alleyways between them. The roads are intermittently paved, and there are little to no pavements for large stretches. This makes walking along the road an obstacle in itself! The trick, I am learning, is to walk with confidence. The drivers of cars, motorbikes, lor...
Tucked away on Malcolm Island, a short ferry ride from Vancouver Island is the school of A J Elliott in the village of Sointula. This little school boasts mixed grade classes and I was grateful to spend a morning with two of the classes to learn a bit more about what happens in a Canadian school.
I arrived just in time for morning register with the mixed Kindergarten and Grade 1 class (equivalent to our Reception and Year 1). The small group of ten children were busy doing their morning routine of the date, letter of the day and greeting one another. I particularly liked the use of the calendar as a tool for recognising patterns as well as learning to read numerals. The children predicted what would come next in the pictoral sequence of the days.
To learn the letter of the day (it was 'g') they looked through all of the alphabet books that they had in the class and the children were challenged to remember which picture would be in each book.
I arrived on Canadian soil in the port city of Victoria on Vancouver Island, British Colombia. It was a peaceful ferry crossing that brought me to a very clean and beautiful city. I spent a few nights in Victoria, exploring the best local hotspots before deciding it was time to escape the city confines and to make the most of the incredible Canadian nature. Reach the city limits and you drive through hours of pine forests speckled with autumnal trees that shock you as you drive; their rich colours contrasting with the green and brown hues around.
And so began my adventure in Canadian rural life. Needless to say it's my kind of heaven! The last two weeks I have been fortunate to stay with an incredibly welcoming family in an incredibly welcoming island community. I drove five hours up Vancouver Island to cross the ferry to Malcolm Island and to the village of Sointula. Now, Sointula has a unique and rich history where three generations ago, a settlement of Finnish folk uprooted and move...
Leaving Seattle on the ferry - headed to Victoria, British Colmbia, Canada.
So I have finally bid adieu to the USA. It has been a very special and exciting trip, if only for the reason that it is the first time I have travelled alone. This was something that I was excited but very nervous about! Although I like the odd patch of time alone and to do my own thing I am not someone that needs to spend a lot of time alone, so this has been a very enlightening time. I anticipated it being very hard, however it has been surprisingly refreshing. Having the opportunity to make decisions (and mistakes!) that I alone am responsible for is empowering. Being in total control of where to go and what to see has been great. I have to add here though that the US has been very kind to me.
People are incredibly friendly and will always stop and talk to you, especially when they hear that you are not local. The smallest of interactions makes a huge difference in a day. It has made me reflect on lonel...
So it is deep into October and I know that back home with my nursery class we would be looking for signs of autumn and noticing the changes in the world around us. Autumn is a time of change and atmospheric weather and it also just so happens to be my favourite time of year. So I feel incredibly lucky to experience it in North America - somewhere famous for it's autumnal beauty.
In the spirit of all things early years and because you just can't keep a nursery teacher from being a big kid, I have been on some autumn hunts myself! I am therefore proud to show you my findings. Here goes:
There's nothing quite like buying new wellies! That is exactly what I did for my day at Trackers Earth School. I excitedly put them on along with a warm fleecy jumper and rain coat and several other layers, complete with packed lunch. I was ready. Ready to go the forest with three teachers and a group of sixteen 4 and 5 year olds. On a yellow school bus!
Now Trackers is not your average school establishment. It provides summer camps throughout the summer holidays, it has a forest school for children to attend regularly, it provides adult learning and also provides extracurricular programs for children to supplement their other education, whether it be public, private, Montessori, Waldorf or home schooling. The group that I attended was formed of the latter. These were children that may come 1-3 days a week. Trackers offers a hands on experiential learning in nature and the outdoors and it is fair to say that, along with the children, I learnt a lot during my day w...
Portland in Oregon is a new city in a new state on my American journey and it is a place much more reminiscent of the UK. The land is greener, the trees varied and the weather more temperate and less intense than California. It has even rained here today - proper big, heavy drenching raindrops. There are a mix of pine forests and deciduous trees and the city is really easy to navigate your way around. Everything seems simple and easy to use! There is a train that operates throughout the city and the city is split into four quadrants by the river and a big road. Every street name begins with the associated quadrant, e.g. Southeast Division Street and Northwest Long Road so theoretically it is nigh on impossible to get lost! Even the bus stops say which direction the bus is going in. These things seem simple but I am learning that these little nuggets of information make all the difference! Nothing makes your heart sink more than when you proudly wait for a bus and find out you are on t...
My second visit to an educational establishment was a really exciting experience. I had contacted Wildwood Nature School, a very small setting teaching up to 12 children in a residential neighbourhood high up on a hill above Portland. Nicole, the owner and Lead Teacher of this preschool, teaching 3-5 year olds in her home kindly agreed to show me around. I arrived in the most beautiful of locations, inspired already by the scenery - you can see for miles around from the preschool!
The stunning and vast view!
I had specifically contacted Nicole after reading their school website and becoming very intrigued. Nicole has written a great piece about the place of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) in the preschool curriculum. I have attached the link below and highly recommend you give it a read; it is a brilliantly written exploration of what STEM can look like in preschool settings and how it can be embedded throughout the learni...
So my pedagogical journey has finally begun! Picture a big lake, houses, and the city of Oakland surrounding the lake. Then tucked up a residential side street is a little white, wooden clad school.
The Director and staff greeted me with great hospitality and friendliness and I was given the privilege of staying for an afternoon. I was shown around the little school, set in an old house and shown around the different age group's rooms and spaces. The front garden, as well as the back garden are used as outdoor play areas.
The large back garden outdoor area
A new addition to the play space - hessian dividers to zone off outdoor areas
Californian weather enables permanent large outdoor sand play
Outdoor construction area
A beautiful addition for outdoor role-play!
The bike and running track
Gross motor skills are encouraged with balls, bikes and climbing equipment
An outdoor literacy area tucked in the corner - helpful for windy days!
The hardest thing about starting a blog is thinking what to call it! Many, many, many attempts later I came to decide upon 'postcards and pedagogy' and it is important to share why.
Postcards and pedagogy sum up this adventure year away. This blog in many ways will act like a postcard. Don't worry, I will be sending paper postcards too; nothing beats the excitement of the mail! But, by posting online, I can share more, and with photographs about the places I have been. Sometimes, I might only write a little and sometimes a lot.
The Oxford dictionary describes pedagogy as, "the method and practice of teaching, especially as an academic subject or theoretical concept."
As teachers we are constantly searching for the best ways to teach and the best methods by which to convey knowledge and stimulate creativity. This year, I am excited to meet practitioners from other countries, who may have other ways of doing things and to talk to them about what works and why for their ch...