UniverCity Childcare’s project idea of building a learning community, through acquiring a pedagogical mentor, came from the educators themselves. The educators expressed a desire to continue to grow in their pedagogical practices of creating a stimulating environment that fosters creativity and exploration through project work. Their desire was for a mentor to help them with the pedagogical practices of engaging in working documentation. More specifically, how to revisit children’s interests through pedagogical documentation and how to make that learning visible to their peers and the families in a timely manner. They identified their own strengths in observing and documenting, at the same time as recognizing their need for support in taking things deeper. They wanted to learn how to use pedagogical documentation as a work in progress, as a way to collaborate amongst themselves, children and families and as a way to research relevant responses to children’s project work. They understood pedagogical documentation in theory, but they recognized the need for a mentor to help them move their understandings into practice.
The significant learning from this journey, as it relates to the Reggio Emilia approach, was bigger than the original project idea. Along this journey, the educators have begun to rethink the role of the educator and the role of the environment as they build their learning community.
The role of the educator has shifted from a planner of programming and curriculum to a co- constructor and co-creator of the learning community. The UniverCity Childcare educators are now looking at themselves as researchers who provoke and negotiate the learning with the children, each other and the families. They continue to develop further as educators who listen carefully, reflect and collaborate. Building a Learning Community was not the name of the project at the time of the grant application. It has grown it’s name through the journey.
This experience has, and will continue, to impact UniverCity Childcare’s educator’s practice going forward. Working on Building a Learning Community over the last few months, the educators have strengthened relationships with each other, the children and the families. They have shifted their thinking of what it means to be an educator at UniverCity Childcare and are now viewing themselves and each other through a very different lens. These shifts have been scaffolded and nourished through the educator’s relationship with their mentor Bev Superle. Bev has been a loyal and consistent supporter of the UniverCity Childcare team.