Can we engage in intentional teaching while still being child focused?
Yes we can! It’s right there in Quality Area 1: Educational program and practice, and in Element 1.2.2 Educators respond to children’s ideas and play and use intentional teaching to scaffold and extend each child’s learning. And if you are still not convinced, intentional teaching is one of the pedagogical practices identified in the Early Years Learning Framework.
I wonder if the reluctance by some of us to embrace intentional teaching is that we associate it with a rigid view of child development, and the expectation that all children will arrive at the same place at the same time. Some of us may also associate intentional teaching with being totally driven by checklists.
Jenni Connor challenges these ideas in her article entitled ‘Being Intentional’ in the NQS PLP e-Newsletter (No 72, 2014). She explores the notion of intentional teaching as being responsive rather than rigid.
Connor points out that we should have specific objectives for each child. For example, if a child finds the separation from their family difficult when they arrive at the place of learning, we might have the objective of developing ‘their sense of belonging and resilience’ (Outcome 1). We would include in our Program strategies to support the child in developing a sense of belonging in the learning setting, thus reducing the anxiety of being separated from family (intentional teaching!). It could easily be argued then, that intentional teaching can indeed be responsive, and therefore child focused.
Okay, so it is clear that intentional teaching is not a rigid, one size fits all approach. As Educators, we know that learning occurs in social contexts, and by carefully noticing the ideas, interests and strengths of the children in those play based contexts, we can make deliberate decisions to support and extend the learning we observe.
Using EarlyWorks, Educators can easily add educator initiated, intentional teaching moments to the Program. When a ‘next experience’ is added to the Program, Educators can choose to identify that Experience as Educator initiated, intentional teaching.