3.2 : Interview with Nikki Hume
Tell me a little about you: your teaching career in a nutshell, where you teach, and what kind of theory/curriculum your setting follows.
I have taught in Reggio Inspired, Early Childhood environments for 16 years! I hold a Masters degree in Curriculum & Instruction with a specialization in Early Childhood Education. As an educator, I feel most passionate about building community in the classroom, conflict resolution and diversity studies, storytelling with children, but most importantly- sustaining the joy of learning. I am currently teaching in the role of atelierista for the Kindergarten learners at the International School of Prague. Our Elementary School is an inquiry based program following the inquiry cycle under the professional development of Kath Murdoch and our Early Childhood Center has been on a five year journey in studying and implementing the Reggio Emilia Philosophy of learning.
What does "reflective practice" mean to you?
To me, being reflective is mostly about thinking, sifting and processing in order to move forward.
How do you find the time for reflective writing?
I have a free/planning period everyday for the last 40 minutes of the school day. I often use this time to specifically write in my notebook. If that time is needed for something else then I try to find time in the 15 minutes after the last bell rings and pick up is finished. Sometimes during the day, I write things on sticky notes and go back to them when I sit to write. ( A suggestion from the Summer 2016 Reflective Writing for Teachers online course)
How do you write? At a computer, with a notebook? Do you have a routine?
I mostly use a notebook. I write my thoughts and ideas from the current teaching day. Quotes and moments of learning I remember or that stand out, my thoughts on a child's work, the general flow of the day, both frustrating or good - depending on the context, my mood, the day, depends on what is written at the end of that day. Sometimes I go back and re-read this, looking for info to help me move a child and their project work or learning forward.
When did you begin a reflective writing practice?
I have always used some type of observational note taking which included my own thoughts and interpretations, while working with children in the classroom. However, I have switched this time and focus to be more of a "dump" of the thoughts, feelings, thinking, wondering, etc from the day. I have re-vamped my reflective writing process just this school year, 2016-17, and as a result of my own learning after participating in the Summer 2016 Reflective Writing for Teachers course.
What is some advice you have for educators who are new to a reflective writing practice?
Try something! Just do it... sticky notes, writing in a notebook or typing on the computer, use a note taking/sharing app on your iphone or ipad. Chose one thing and try it and stick to it for 30 days. Then re-evaluate how this is working for you and any adjustments you need to make. Do the same for choosing a time... of course, allow yourself to be flexible, but try to build this in as routine part of your teaching day/practice.
How has reflective writing informed your documentation and/or planning?
I use my writing (especially my sticky notes or observational notes) consistently to document the experiences in my studio/classroom. But I have learned to also look back at my writing and connect the thoughts, feelings, thinking and wondering to a learning snapshot that I am sharing with kids, teachers or parents. For example, I post these learning stories on my blog and often, I include something from a previous writing excerpt in this blog as supporting evidence of learning.
When I make a sticky note, I often do this because I think there might be something to come back to the next day. I stick the notes either in my notebook, on my computer, or in a place in the classroom where I thought the note makes sense. Then I refer to them the next morning and observe for these same things... sometimes this helps me "weed" through what is more or less significant and how to best document the work happening in the studio.
What is a challenge that comes with a reflective writing practice?
Sticking to it when you feel busy or when other things feel more important! ECC teachers are busy and often multi-tasking and juggling many projects. Sometimes this threatens to get in the way of my reflective writing. I try to persevere as much as possible and keep writing... but I will say that at times you have to be flexible but not let yourself get too off routine.
At other times, the challenge is finding something to write about... this happens for me when I have either had a VERY busy day without children and don't feel like writing. These are the days I have to force myself to just dump my feelings on paper. Purging always feels good. I never have a problem finding something to write about on the days I work with kids... and I don't limit myself either. I just try to find more time to write when I have more thoughts, feelings, thinking and wondering about their projects/learning, or I make a sticky note.
What else would you like to tell passionate Early Educators about reflection?
Try it! Do it! Enjoy it... I have learned a lot about myself not only as an educator but also as a human, and I have grown because of it!