Early childhood educators shifting their understanding of emergent curriculum: “It’s about transforming thought”

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Sampson, Matthew
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Mount Saint Vincent University
What shifts occur in an educator’s practice from knowing the parts of emergent curriculum to understanding the complexity of practicing emergent curriculum? This research study examines this question through the experiences of five early childhood educators who have identified shifts in their own understandings and practice related to emergent curriculum. Five early childhood educators in Halifax, Nova Scotia each participated in two interviews that used examples of their self-selected pedagogical documentation as catalysts for discussion about their past and current thinking and practices related to emergent curriculum. The data from these interviews were developed into individual chronological stories of shifting understanding and practice. An examination of the data from the interviews led to the identification of four common themes related to shifts in practice. Specifically, shifts were related to how educators communicated with children in the classroom; the educators’ levels of confidence; the ability of educators to move from a rules-based classroom to a more participatory culture negotiated between adults and children; and, finally, the use of documentation as a way to focus on children’s ways of thinking rather than a focus on what the children are doing. In their interviews, the participants used metaphors such as “You’re constantly putting one more track in front of the train” and philosophical statements such as “It’s about transforming thought” to explain their complex understanding of practicing emergent curriculum. The identification of these specific shifts in practice can inform new professional development opportunities for educators to benefit from each others’ experiences and can create a greater understanding of how documentation can be used as a tool of reflection when discussing the complexity of emergent curriculum.
Early childhood education , Research Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES::Social sciences::Education , Emergent curriculum , Reflective practice , Pedagogical documentation , Shifting practice , Research Subject Categories::INTERDISCIPLINARY RESEARCH AREAS::Children