The Provincial Centre of Excellence is thrilled to be able to share some of the stories and experiences of our pedagogists. This month, we are pleased to introduce Olga Rossovska.
Olga Rossovska, RECE, Med is a Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellness at Humber College. Before becoming a college professor, she spent a decade as a toddler and preschool educator at Humber’s Child Development Centre, leading environmental inquiry with children and colleagues; her work alongside her colleagues’ was recently recognized by the Edward Burtynsky Award. Olga’s work and research focus on pedagogical documentation, quality in education, common worlds, outdoor play, and young children’s experiences and relationships with the land. You can connect with Olga on Twitter at @Olga_RECE.
In thinking about my professional learning journey of becoming a pedagogist with the Provincial Centre of Excellence, it is important that I think about where questions began to emerge for me in practice. I have been exploring the Reggio Emilia’s approach to education for a few years. In 2018, an opportunity came up to visit Reggio schools and learn with pedagogistas, atelieristas, children and international professionals in the ECEC sector. This experience completely shook me up and encouraged me to (re)think my own pedagogical practices, and the way I was socialized to be as an educator. I wondered about what meanings lay behind the term ‘quality of education’ – who sets the standards for quality, what are they based on? How do we document quality? I began to explore the work done in the Canadian context to reinforce my expanding lens on viewing documentation as a multi-layered form for pedagogical thinking in action, a basis for dialogue rather than a form of display of quality.
My colleagues, who noticed my interest in leading pedagogical change in the sector, encouraged me to participate in the series of engagements for becoming a pedagogist by the Provincial Centre of Excellence. I began with Cohort 2 the journey of (Dis)Orientation, (Re)Orienting and Immersion, which involved rigorous reading and intense conversations, sometimes a sense of frustration for not understanding the discourses. The ideas and ways of thinking that I might have previously overlooked because of the lack of knowledge and exposure began to surface. The conversations among the Cohort of becoming-pedagogists and the authors of readings encouraged me to look beyond the ‘what I know’ and to be cautious of being satisfied with affirmation of my thinking. Rather, the Centre’s exposures urged to de-familiarize myself from the routine actions, to interrupt the idea of meeting the status quo and to think pedagogically about the work that we do as educators. This important ‘A-ha’ moment changed the frame of my question from ‘what is quality?’ to ‘what ethical and political actions live within familiar terms such as quality in early childhood?’.
I think at this point it is important for me to say that this change in thinking does not happen fast and easy. This work is hard and slow, but it is not impossible. The true transformation happens collectively, in diffraction of our ways of thinking and being, in pedagogical documentation. With our community of pedagogists, regional coordinators, RECEs, college professors and students, children and families, we are thinking together, having conversations, and documenting our pedagogical thinking. Some of the questions we are holding on to include, but are not limited to: who are we thinking with in our classrooms, what are our pedagogical (in)tensions, what stories and ideas do we choose to linger with and which ones do we take no notice of or disregard? These are important and difficult pedagogical questions that we intentionally choose to engage with. They bring a sense of disequilibrium to our practice, which helps us take notice of what Adichie (2009) calls “the danger of a single story”, the meaning we hold behind terms of ‘quality’. These questions encourage us to contest the static routine, to be alive and to be in wonder.
For me, being a pedagogist does not mean being an expert of any particular subject or teaching others a technical skill, like how to complete a task or to do their job. Being a pedagogist means always being in question and trying to think through things in relation to ethical and political dispositions to lead pedagogical projects, which bring change in the ECEC sector.
Adichie, C.N. (2009, July). The danger of a single story [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_ngozi_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story?language=en