Today I had the very great pleasure of presenting at the first NetworkEd conference. Thank you to Nancy Gedge for asking me. She built a conference, and lots of people came. It was lovely to be able to say ‘yes’ to something that was for a friend, and that was also close to home. It was also great to be able to put more faces to some Twitter people I really get on with, to listen to Simon Knight talk about differentiation, Rob Webster discuss how to maximise TAs, and Martin Robinson wax lyrical about the soul. And as a bonus I got to hear about Zombie Day again from Ben Davey. (My kid would so love a Zombie Day.) My theme was early years, which is both a subject close to my heart and also a phase that maybe doesn’t get talked about as much as it should. I shared “eight big lessons” I have learned from working with little learners. I hope you enjoy them and thanks #NeD16.
1. Ofsted. Who they?
Don’t do anything ‘for Ofsted’, do it for the children, the staff and the parents. Use a process of constant self evaluation and reflection as the bedrock for improvement.
2. Behaviour is communication.
If you figure out what children need you can help them learn to self-regulate. Rather than viewing behaviour as a problem to be solved, see it as a question to be answered.
3. If you build it, they will come.
If you want to make something happen, then go ahead and make it happen. Here is the story of our preschool garden.
4. Anything can be everything.
There is learning all around us and in everything, so part of your job as an educator is to enhance the environment and then draw the learning out of it.
5. Start a secret forest club.
Sticks, fire, mud, trees, weather and nature are a potent combination. Buy a portable toilet.
6. Community is powerful.
With the community, by the community, for the community. As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child.
7. Start with the child, but don’t forget the grown-ups.
Don’t spend time writing things down that you don’t need to. You don’t help the child by over complicating things for the adults.
8. Play is the way.
“A child loves her play not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard.” Benjamin Spock