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Professional Portfolio

Early Childhood

Kara Blair

on 11 June 2013

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Transcript of Professional Portfolio

Personal Educational Philosophy
Educational Goals
Short term goals
The Educational Setting
It is a nursery school attached to an independent primary school. The team consists of two degree qualified staff, an assistant and an aide. The program runs Monday-Friday, 9am-3:15pm for multi age groupings of 3 and 4 year olds. It is a child centred program, with a focus on the children's interests and needs. The school does not define itself by any approach, but has elements of Reggio Emilia, Steiner and Vygotsky embedded in it's philosophy.
Professional Portfolio

By Kara Blair
Case and Commentary
Professional Knowledge G 1.1
Case and Commentary
Professional Practice G14.4
Case and Commentary
Professional Engagement G 26.2
Graduate Standard 1
G1.2 Teachers recognise when children’s development is atypical.
Knowledge of child development theory and research
Graduate Standard 2
G2.2 Teachers develop an understanding and respect for the children they teach as individuals, and are sensitive to their needs and understand the role of reciprocal relationships in their development.
Know the children they teach
Graduate Standard 3
Know and understand the diversity of
Australian society
Graduate Standard 4
A sound knowledge of curriculum approaches, how children learn and how to teach them effectively.
Graduate Standard 5
G5.1 Teachers utilise current curriculum theory to underpin the teaching program.
Have a sound knowledge of current learning, teaching and assessment theories
Graduate Standard 10
G10.3 Teachers support individual children with additional needs by identifying and engaging
additional resources, advice and support.
Plan for effective learning
which is based on children’s
strengths and interests
Graduate Standard 11
G11.5 Teachers develop an understanding of an integrated approach to planning which reflects the emergent strengths and interests of children.
Teachers monitor, assess and record children’s’ learning and development to provide the basis for ongoing planning and reporting to parents
Graduate Standard 12
G12.1 Teachers reflect on own teaching approaches and strategies and adapt these to support and enhance children’s’ learning.
Evaluate and reflect on teaching and learning with a view to improvement
Graduate Standard 13
G13.1 Teachers provide and manage opportunities for children to explore ideas and develop knowledge and skills, through discussion and appropriate learning experiences.
Use a range of teaching practices and resources to engage children in effective learning.
Graduate Standard 14
G14.2 Teachers use and manage materials, resources and physical space to create a stimulating and safe environment for learning.
Create and maintain safe and challenging learning environments.
Graduate Standard 15
G15.2 Teachers create a positive environment where children have the confidence to accept challenges with their learning.
Support children to take an increasing role in their own learning
Graduate Standard 24
G24.1 Teachers demonstrate respect for the right of parents, colleagues to have their own beliefs and values.
Establish positive relationships with parents, colleagues and members of the community and respect their individuality.
Graduate Standard 25
G25.1 Teachers use a range of communication strategies.
Demonstrate skills for effective communication.
Graduate Standard 26 - Reflective Practice Inquiry
G26.6 Teachers develop organisational and administrative skills to manage their non-teaching duties effectively.
Reflect on, evaluate and improve their professional knowledge and practice
through engagement as an ongoing
Graduate Standard 27
G27.1 Teachers contribute to the development of preschool communities that support the learning and wellbeing of both children and fellow teachers.
Are active members of their profession.
Graduate Standard 28
G28.1 Teachers understand and fulfill their legal responsibilities and share responsibility for the integrity of their profession.
Teachers promote learning and advocate the value of education and the profession of teaching in the wider community.
Personal Educational Philosophy

Educational Goals

The Educational Setting

Case and Commentaries
Professional Knowledge
Professional Practice
Professional Engagement

Graduate Standards
Including Reflective Practice Inquiry
Work in a kindergarten that reflects my philosophy
Work as part of a team
Build on my leadership skills
Build on my confidence in the classroom
Take part in prefessional development
Long term goals
Complete TESOL qualifications
Work towards Masters
Teach overseas - Germany or Asia
Volunteer overseas
Shonkoff, J 200, From Neurons to Neighbourhoods, National Academy Press, Washington DC.
This was a spontaneous experience that developed from the child's distress upon separation from his mother. F brought in his bugs, which I knew he has an interest in as he had brought them in before. First we found pairs and then we created a poster together. The child shared his knowledge about bugs with me and we sought information from his classmates. F decided to take the poster home and continued playing with the bugs and made a home for them in the block corner.
Note the development of:
The child's interest
Social interactions
Prior knowledge
Note the link to my philosophy:
Emotional attachment (Bowlby)
Co-learning and collaborating (Reggio Emilia)
This demonstrates my respect for the child, my understanding of his needs and my ability to develop a reciprocal relationship with him.
G4.1 Teachers draw on the body of knowledge about early childhood education pedagogy and on contemporary research into teaching and learning to support their practice.
I observed the children having difficulty engaging with both the clay and the wire. I decided to extend on their abilities with each material by putting them together. Through sensory exploration the children created objects and stories using both materials.
This reflects my knowledge of Vygotsky's Zone of Proximal Development and the ability to use it to support my practice.
Note the development of:
Creative thinking
Fine motor skills
Sensory development
Note the links to my philosophy:
Scaffolding (Vygotsky)
Facilitating (Reggio Emilia)
Constructivism (Dewey, Vygotsky, Piaget)
This was an email I sent to a university lecturer who specialises in motor development in early childhood. I was seeking advice for a child who my mentor and I have some concerns about. I observed the child in the classroom and also during my motor development session.
This demonstrates my ability to recognise development that is atypical. It shows I am able to observe and document my concerns and seek help from an expert.
Note the link to my philosophy:
Health and physical education program
This is a lesson plan using the template that I created and shared with my university colleagues. It includes a section for the VEYLDF which I link to all my plans. Boxes can be ticked and a description of which outcome can be linked to the lesson can be outlined.
This demonstrates my ability to use the framework to underpin my program.
“A person’s a person, no matter how small” (Geisel, 1954).
I am passionate about the early years of children’s lives, human rights, equality and social justice. The future of the world is dependent on our children. I wish to be a positive influence on the lives of young children, which I believe originated from my own positive childhood experiences.

“What a child can do in co-operation today he can do alone tomorrow” (Vygotksy, 1934).
I believe that children construct their own learning through being active participants. Learning should be a collaborative process with peers and teachers. Therefore I will act as a facilitator and scaffold children’s learning. My aim is to instill a love of learning that the children can carry with them into the future.

“Stable, safe relationships and rich learning experiences are key to brain development” (Shonkoff, 2008).
I believe that social and emotional development is the most important part of early childhood. This is supported by the attachment theory and the research on brain development. Therefore I will encourage children to build positive relationships with adults and with their peers. I will include families and communities and build strong partnerships with them. My aim is to develop confident, resilient people.

“Young children learn by doing. And what they love to do most is play” (Petrash, 2002).
I believe that environments should be natural, play based and educational. They should also provide areas for relaxation and solitary play. Therefore I will provide experiences that include nature, are open-ended, encourage creativity and are meaningful to the children. I will provide children with an environment that supports independence, choice, learning styles and the exploration of children’s interests and strengths.

I believe that children should learn how to care for the environment and use sustainable practice. Therefore I will create an ecological community with support from the children, the families and the greater community.I believe that it is a teacher’s responsibility to promote healthy living. Therefore I will include health and physical education in my planning. It will incorporate gardening, cooking, games and sports, as well as learning about our bodies.

I believe that the diversity of our world makes it a richer place to be. Therefore I will be inclusive of all needs, cultures and abilities through knowing the children, their families and by educating myself through research when required.

I believe that the curriculum should be based on the children’s interests, strengths, developmental needs and learning frameworks. Therefore I will include child-initiated, teacher-initiated and spontaneous experiences. I will use learning stories, anecdotal records, photos and reflections to plan for the group and individual children.

I believe that as a teacher I am always learning. Therefore I will continually reflect on my practice, be open to feedback and keep myself informed of new methodology in early childhood education. I also believe that I am an advocate for children. Therefore I will use my position and knowledge to support the rights of children.
Geisel, T 1954, Horton Hears a Who, Random House, New York.
Petrash, J 2002, Understanding Waldorf Education, Gryphon House, Beltsville, Maryland.
Vygotsky, L 1934, Thought and Language, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.
Case: A 4-year-old child (O) was playing outside during the afternoon and damaged the cubby house by ripping strips of wood off the door. The teacher (R) responded to this by expressing her disappointment that O was not respecting school property and questioned him about it. R documented a discussion with O to establish why he behaved this way. She later shared this with O’s mother. When O couldn’t give R a good reason, R told O he must sit out of the activities for the rest of the afternoon as a consequence. My response to this was to respect R’s decision to deal with O’s behaviour in this way.
Commentary: I found that this challenged me in terms of my behaviour management experience. I felt sympathy for O when this occurred but I now realise that R’s approach was fair and appropriate. She has many years experience as teacher and a background in psychology. She also knows the child, his behaviours and his background. I believe it is important to follow through with consequences when a child displays negative behaviour but I believe it is important not to disrespect the child or hurt them emotionally. In my research I have found that R attempted to use the social and emotional learning approach (SEL) to encourage O to reflect on his behaviour and regulate his emotions (Calderalla et al. 2012). When O didn’t respond to this approach, he engaged in avoidance behaviour. R’s response to this was to take stimulus away from O’s environment, a form of negative reinforcement (O’Donohue & Ferguson 2001). Taking into consideration that O’s mother is very near the end of her pregnancy, this behaviour could be caused by a change to the family structure (Calderalla et al. 2012). It has been interesting to document this case and my research as my opinion of the R’s practice changed over the course of my placement. Her firm and consistent approach with the children has proven to be effective in managing the classroom. I feel that although my style is not as firm as R’s, it is important for me to follow through with consequences. I would like to find a balance between having a warm, gentle approach and providing a clear and consistent style of behaviour management.
Calderalla, P Page, N & Gunter, L 2012, ‘Early Childhood Educators’ Perceptions of Conscious Discipline’, Education, vol. 132, no. 3, pp. 589-599.
O’Donohue, W & Ferguson, K 2001, The Psychology of B.F. Skinner, Thousand Oaks, California, pp. 90-92.
The socio economic area of the nursery school meant that it wasn't very diverse in terms of society, culture or religion. Therefore I ensured that I treated each child and family respectfully and equitably. I did this through getting to know each and every one of them, greeting them all in the morning and interacting with them with their needs in mind.
G3.1 Teachers are aware of the social, cultural, and religious backgrounds of the children they teach, and treat children equitably.
Two children, a 4-year-old boy (G) and a 3 and a half-year-old girl (E) like to spend the majority of time in the nursery school playing with one another. Recently, G has been having difficulties regulating his emotions in relation to his mother. My mentor teacher (O) informed me that G and E’s mothers attended the same mothers group and the two families have become close. We began to question, is it ok for kindergarten children to only play with one other child? Should we somehow encourage them to play with others? Is this affecting G’s social and emotional development? My response was to research these questions.
I have found that there are two opinions to this issue and I feel very strongly about them both. Firstly, we know must be able to develop friendships from a young age to have a healthy social life in adulthood. Secondly, brain research and the attachment theory tell us that these relationships in the early years are extremely important. As teachers, we know that it is important to support the children’s friendships and their social and emotional development. I believe this is particularly important in kindergarten, but at what age would it be ok to separate the friends to help G learn to build friendships with others? According to Hazen and Brownell (1999), “years of research have established that children who are unable to interact successfully with peers and to establish and maintain friendships are at risk for developing a variety of mental health and behaviour problems later in life”. The VEYLDF (DEECD 2011, p. 19) encourages teachers to develop a ‘strong sense of identity’ in the children, by learning ‘to relate to others with care, empathy and respect’. The indicators relating to G that need to be focused on are for him to ‘show interest in other children and being part of a group’ and ‘engage in and contribute to shared play experiences’. The best way to address this situation would be to bring up my concerns with G’s parents and see if they have any insight into their son’s behaviour and development. Then we could create an individual plan that would focus on these areas. We would maintain G’s friendship with E, but subtly encourage him to build friendships with others through his interests. We would have to be extremely sensitive when discussing this with parents as we want them to know we have G’s best interests at heart and would not want to change any of the relationships the families have built, as these are also important.
Case: My mentor teacher (O) and the other teacher (R) invited me to a meeting after the session concerning a program they were working on. It involved developing a version of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programmme (PYP) in the nursery school. O shared her knowledge with me about the program as she had studied it in her Master’s Degree. O was also teaching R about the program and together they worked on a plan, focusing on the garden of the nursery school. O’s introduction of the IB lead me to be very interested in the concept and my response to this was to do research to consider if this may be knowledge I would like to incorporate into my practice. I also wondered if it linked with my philosophy and teaching identity.
Commentary: During my research of the IB I discovered it values ‘active global citizenship, critical enquiry and intercultural understanding with a strong tradition in the study of languages’ (Hayden and Wong, cited in Doherty 2009, p. 76). These values align very well with my philosophy. When the IB was developed in Geneva in the 1960’s, it was more common in private schools, however ‘today over half of all IB world schools are state schools’ (International Baccalaureate Organisation 2013). Some early learning centres also use the program (these are usually attached to schools). Considering that my philosophy values social justice and equity, I was pleased to discover that this was becoming more accessible to all students. The fact that it is becoming more common in public schools means that it would be something I would be interested in learning more about. I believe that public schools can sometimes be more focused on “streamed specialisation and disciplinarity” rather than being “balanced”, “integrated” and [having a] “holistic” approach to education’ (Australian Council for Educational Research, cited in Doherty 2009, p. 76). I also have plans to teach overseas and believe that understanding this program could be extremely beneficial to me. I could become employed in an IB school or early learning centre or I could do further study. Depending on what opportunities present themselves to me, I wish to learn more about the IB program. It was through the sharing of knowledge and collaboration with my colleagues that I was able to discover the program. Through my own interest in contemporary issues I researched further, with the hope to improve my future professional practice. It was also wonderful to observe the teachers trying to incorporate a primary school program into a kindergarten setting.
Note the links to my philosophy:
Geisel (1954)
Shonkoff (2008)
This individual learning plan was for a child who has autism. I identified his strengths and interests to plan experiences to engage him and support his learning. This demonstrates my ability to use inclusive practice as it was planned for A and for the whole group. Unfortunately I do not have any photos of the experiences but I implemented them all and they became a display on the wall.
Note my ability to:
Plan for different learning styles (Gardner)
Support additional needs by including the group
I planned this experience based on the children's interest in bugs and insects. This experience integrated various types of learning such as
fine motor development
problem solving
team work
science and nature
Note the link to my philosophy:
Petrash (2002)
Vygotsky (1934)
Interest based learning
Integrated curriculum
I planned this animal and sand experience as an indoor experience. One child engaged with it indoors but it did not grab their interest. Outdoors, I observed the children discussing animals, dinosaurs and volcanoes so I placed the sand tray in the sandpit near the children. They incorporated it into their play, which encouraged so much learning.
Note my ability to:
Reflect on my own teaching approaches and adapt this to support children's learning
Note the link to my philosophy:
Reflective practice
To extend on the children's interest in volcanoes, we did the volcano experiment with vinegar and baking soda. I placed a pipe in the sandpit and together we built a mountain of sand around it. During the experiment we discussed the elements of a real volcano and what causes it to explode. After the experiment we looked at this non-fiction book that I borrowed from the school's library. It was about volcanoes to further explore the children's knowledge of volcanoes.
Note the links to my philosophy:
Co-learning and collaborating
Interest based learning
On the left is seed planting experience and on the right is our collection from our nature walk. Both required me to manage materials and ensure the safety of the children.
Note the link to my philosophy:
Including nature and the outdoors in the program
Learning by doing (constructivism)
This was a motor development session I planned using various materials. I took into consideration my observations of the children's gross motor skills so that the activities were appropriate to the children's stage of development.
Note my ability to:
Create a positive environment for success
Support children when they experience challenges
Note the link to my philosophy:
Active learning (Vygotsky)
Health and physical education program
This is the school cake stall that I volunteered at on the last two Friday's. That is me on the right in the grey. I worked together with one of the mother's to set up and run the stall.
This demonstrates my ability to establish positive relationships with the school community and respect their individuality.
Note the link to my philosophy:
Building strong partnerships with families and the community
This was my contribution to the daily reflection book that is also shared on the school's blog. I documented the children's photos and responses during the cake stall cooking experience to share with the families.
Note the link to my philosophy:
Health education (cooking)
This demonstrates my ability to communicate effectively using the reflection book. I also took part in daily discussions with parents during in drop off and pick up times.
This was a cooking experience I planned to encourage a link for the children between the cake stall fundraiser and their own learning. I took the class in two groups to the kitchen and with my help they made honeyjoys to sell at the cake stall.
This demonstrates my ability to contribute to the community and support the wellbeing of the children and teachers.
Note the link to my philosophy:
Active participation
Health education (cooking)
Partnerships with families
Here my mentor teacher's comments demonstrate how my practice was respectful of confidentiality and followed correct legal procedures.
Note the links to my philosophy:
As teachers we are advocates for the early childhood education and must act as professionals at all times to ensure the integrity of the field of early childhood education.
Hazen, N & Brownell, C 1999, Peer Relationships in Early Childhood: Currents Trends and Future Direction, Early Education & Development, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 233-240.
DEECD, 2011, Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework, Melbourne.
Doherty, C 2009, ‘The appeal of the International Baccalaureate in Australia's educational market: a curriculum of choice for mobile futures’, Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, vol. 30, no.1, pp. 73-89.
International Baccalaureate Organisation 2013, History, viewed 1 June 2013, <http://www.ibo.org/history/>.
Case: As a new teacher in the nursery school, my first job was to build relationships with the children. But I also had to develop my own systems for observing, documenting and planning. I asked my mentor teacher to show me some examples of the style of planning, theorists and formats she uses in her work. She sent me a variety of learning stories linking with the VEYLDF, reflections and monthly plans with a mixture of children’s interests and teacher initated planning. As I would only be at the nursery school for a short time and I have my own ideas of how planning can be done, I decided to develop my own ways of performing organisational and administrative tasks.
Commentary: Firstly I created a list of all the children in the group. It included their date of birth and attendance days so that I could use the information in my planning. Next I developed my own plan for individual experiences. I made sure to include the VEYLDF, materials, reflection and all the other elements in the template (an example is featured in Graduate Standard 5). This was shared with my university colleagues on a social networking site and received very positive feedback from them. I also developed an individual learning plan for a child with additional needs. The experiences in the plan were to be used as inclusive experiences with the whole group (an example is featured in Graduate Standard 10). I also developed my own weekly plan, which allowed me to structure each day of the week, taking into consideration the specialist timetable. The weekly plan included different experiences, links to the VEYLDF and links to the graduate standards. There is an example of this plan in this standard. I believe that developing my own ways of organising and documenting makes my practice more meaningful to me and specific to my philosophy. I also believe that this is why it is important to gain further knowledge and attend professional development. This way we can collaborate with other teachers and learn from teachers who have been in the field for longer. My system for organizing and planning worked for this setting, but it may not work for others. Therefore I will be prepared to modify my planning style depending on the setting I am working in, just as I did in this setting.
From my mentor teacher
What a wonderful experience!
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