Kei Tua o te Pae

Kei Tua o te Pae/Assessment for Learning: Early Childhood Exemplars is a best-practice guide that will help teachers continue to improve the quality of their teaching.

The exemplars are a series of books that will help teachers to understand and strengthen children's learning. It also shows how children, parents and whānau can contribute to this assessment and ongoing learning.

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Everyday contexts

The exemplars in these books are about assessments carried out in everyday contexts. A major purpose of documentation is that it will inform everyday, undocumented, interactive teaching and spontaneous feedback, making children’s interactions richer and more reciprocal. The curriculum is at its best when activities and conversations are sited in meaningful contexts.

The following is an example of a typical everyday episode in a childcare centre, which happened to be recorded by a visiting researcher.

Where’s Kirsty?

Teacher with two children

There are 2 teachers named Kirsty at this childcare centre. One of them is away. The interaction began with Zena asking Margaret (the visiting researcher) a question. Jade and Kirsty are teachers.

Zena: [To Margaret] Where’s Kirsty?

Margaret: Where’s Kirsty?

Zena: Yeah.

Margaret: I don’t know.

Zena: [Calling to Jade, a teacher] Where’s Kirsty? Um, Jade, where’s Kirsty?

Jade: [From across the room] Who, sorry?

Zena: Kirsty at my daycare.

Jade: Kirsty Smith?

Zena: No. Kirsty.

Jade: Can I ask you which Kirsty you mean? Can you come and have a look at the board and show me? [They go together to look at a photo board of all the teachers.]

Zena [Points] That.

Jade: Oh, she’s not here today.

Zena: Why?

Jade: She’s got Friday off. She’ll be at home.

Zena: Sick?

Jade: No, she’s not sick. She’s just having a day at home doing some jobs. Are you missing her?

Zena: Yeah.

Jade: She’ll be in next week on Monday, though, when you come on Monday. 

This episode was part of everyday life in Zena’s childcare centre and illustrated the following features:

  • Zena initiated an interaction by asking a question, and the teacher listened to her carefully. 
  • the teacher recognised that the way to clarify this question was to call Zena’s attention to something she could “read” – the photo display of staff. 
  • the teacher continued the conversation, and Zena persisted with questions. “Why was Kirsty away?” “Was she sick?” 
  • the teacher responded to each of these questions and invited Zena to reflect further: “Are you missing her?”

In providing feedback to Zena, the teacher:

  • indicated that she respected Zena’s interest
  • encouraged a discussion about belonging as a member of this community (as Zena noticed who was not here and asked why, Zena having already had a discussion with the researcher about what she, the researcher, was doing here) 
  • gave credit to Zena for a meaningful question as she made sense of the array of teachers and adults in the centre that day
  • provided Zena with a mode of “reading” that assisted the verbal exchange and ensured a 2-way discussion between herself and Zena.

We can see that there were elements of wellbeing, belonging, exploration, communication, and collaboration in an interaction that took just 1 minute and 12 seconds.