Pedagogist Profile: November 2019

The Provincial Centre of Excellence is thrilled to be able to share some of the stories and experiences of our pedagogists. In this first profile, we are pleased to introduce Barbara Pytka and Terry Kelly.

Photograph of Terry Kelly and Barbara Pytka
Barbara and Terry

Barbara Pytka is a Professor at the School of Early Childhood Education at Seneca College. Her work experience and educational endeavours are closely related to the field of early childhood education, especially pedagogy, curriculum and policy. Barbara also has more than 20 years of experience in various positions related to early childhood education. She served as director of two early childhood education centres, where she sharpened her leadership and collaboration skills in the co-ordination, planning and delivery of various children’s programs. Barbara organized a number of professional networking and international initiatives, including study tours to New Zealand, Denmark, Sweden and Norway to explore forest schools and nature education. Barbara’s current interests include the relationship between mentoring practices and educators’ professional growth. She is interested in examining the pedagogy, practices and conditions connected to the use of mentoring in early childhood education that improve pedagogical practices.

Terry Kelly is reflecting and renewing her work as a long-time ECE, faculty/trainer and nascent pedagogist. She currently works in the School of Early Childhood Education at Seneca College. Terry has benefitted from rich international ECE work/study experiences and knowledge exchanges in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. Terry’s passion is in empowering Early Childhood Educators to honour their voices and hearts, challenge the status quo, and to be mindful of connections to Land and Spirit. Terry is a board member of the Family Support Institute of Ontario, Registered Yoga Teacher, and a mother. You can connect with Terry on Twitter at @tecekelly.

Critical reflection is a way of reflecting that requires RECEs to consider and challenge the beliefs, assumptions, and understandings that frame how they view and respond to children and that shape learning experiences they make available for them. Critical reflection involves the active process of engaging with difficult concepts, tensions and uncertainties and changing practice as a result (Pacini-Ketchabaw et al, 2015 as cited in Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, 2017). 

Joining the pedagogists’ learning community within the Provincial Centre of Excellence nurtured our capacity for thinking, collaborating, reflecting, creating, organizing, making choices and taking responsibility.     

As early childhood educators, we always valued collaborative engagement in critical and pedagogical reflections. However, the invigorating study and challenging work of becoming pedagogists has made us realize that we were not engaging with our profession as meaningfully as we could be. Our ongoing and enthusiastic professional learning was often fairly predictable, following the current “trends” in ECE. Having the huge benefit of becoming pedagogists has offered us the opportunity to engage with thought-provoking readings, challenging discussions with each other and peers from across the province. Often, for hours at a time, we considered concepts and ideas that are in tension with the “meaning-making process”.  

This collaborative adventure in the context of our current political, environmental, decolonizing, interdisciplinary, post-modern time has truly re-energized our practice in the field, our work with ECE students, our work with partners, and our research. We see ourselves, our colleagues, the families with whom we work, and our society at large with a new perspective. The learning and discovering continues daily through reading, reflecting, acting, wondering, feeling, listening, reading some more, thinking some more, writing, observing, challenging assumptions, talking, and watching.  

This work continues to transform us intellectually. It sets the foundation for the way we aim to motivate ourselves and others to shape a new identity for our profession. We acknowledge that the pedagogist’s work holds great responsibility because we realize that our thinking holds real-life implications. Therefore, we are still making our choices and as Jean-Paul Sartre described: “I can always choose, but I ought to know that if I do not choose, I am still choosing.”