Led by Western University and the Ontario Reggio Association and supported by many partners across the province, the Provincial Centre of Excellence for Early Years and Child Care is building an innovative model for professional learning across Ontario. Along with the Francophone and Indigenous Centres, the Provincial Centre is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Education in partnership with the Government of Canada through the Canada-Ontario Early Learning and Child Care initiative.
The Centre mobilizes the call for transformational change through the proven structure of a province-wide pedagogist network. The specialized role of pedagogist the Centre is introducing to Ontario is new in the province but akin to Reggio Emilia’s pedagogista, New Zealand’s critical friend, and Belgium’s pedagogic coordinator. In Canada, the role was piloted in British Columbia by the Investigating Quality Project (2008–2018), which called it pedagogical facilitator.
What is the Role of a Pedagogist?
There are two kinds of pedagogists being introduced. College pedagogists work within postsecondary early childhood programs to support students, educators in centres, and faculty. Community pedagogists work with educators, children, and families in community contexts. Through deep engagement with pedagogical documentation, the calls to action of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (2015) and the values of Ontario’s How Does Learning Happen? (2014), pedagogists lead pedagogical projects in individual programs and connect them to the social and cultural fabric of communities. With children, families, educators and others, pedagogists help to reimagine early childhood education as a plurality of spaces for democratic possibilities.
“…Pedagogists lead pedagogical projects in individual programs and connect them to the social and cultural fabric of communities.”
Rather than providing educators with one-time professional development (for example, in the form of workshops), a community pedagogist works closely with about 50 educators in their own early years and child care programs, responding to each program’s particularities. Pedagogists:
- work collaboratively and reflectively alongside educators to support their professional and pedagogical engagement by, for example, leading a pedagogical project with them, children and families
- work closely with educators to engage deeply in pedagogical documentation
- nurture pedagogies that promote critical thinking, engaging with and inspiring others, building community, and fostering creative and experimental spaces
- attend to the calls to action of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission and integrate them into pedagogical projects
- organize and lead team meetings, centre initiatives and professional learning opportunities in collaboration with regional coordinators and other pedagogists in individual regions and across the province
- network and learn alongside other pedagogists through the Provincial Centre of Excellence
The Provincial Centre takes a responsive approach to creating professional learning opportunities, as outlined in Research-Informed Brief #1.
Who Becomes a Pedagogist?
Each pedagogist is an intellectually curious individual who is already in a pedagogical leadership position in their organization or community, or is immersed in early years and child care programs and highly motivated to study educational theory and curriculum.
Pedagogists are comfortable with uncertainty and complexity.
Please see Research-Informed Brief #3 for details on the approach to pedagogy, learning and curriculum that the Provincial Centre invites.
How Does One Become a Pedagogist?
Pedagogists are not employees of the Provincial Centre of Excellence, but are supported by their existing organizations/communities to pursue this role.
There are two components to becoming a pedagogist.
- First, candidates participate in a 12-week orientation with the Centre of Excellence (about 8 to 10 hours/week including a 2-hour synchronous online gathering and time to read, view videos, and post responses in an online learning management system).
- Second, following these 12 weeks, they are eligible to enter an immersion phase where they become active participants in the Provincial Centre’s network of pedagogists, eventually working alongside approximately 50 educators, sharing pedagogical documentation, meeting regularly with the Provincial Centre and engaging in related regional activities. In the immersion phase, becoming-pedagogists continue to meet regularly with Provincial Centre regional coordinators, and working in their own communities, they lead pedagogical projects to enrich and enliven the ways educators take up How Does Learning Happen? (2014).
Growing the Network
To reach all communities in Ontario, the Provincial Centre is taking a data-driven, systematic and equitable approach to creating and growing the pedagogist network. The intention is that ultimately every educator in Ontario will be connected and supported locally by a pedagogist.
The network map shows the location of pedagogists who are immersed in current pedagogical projects.
For a detailed understanding of the Provincial Centre’s vision for growing the network, please see Research-Informed Brief #2.
The following documents detail the how and why of the pedagogist network, as informed by provincial data and scholarly literature.
How does the Provincial Centre of Excellence for Early Years and Child Care create professional learning opportunities that respond to educators’ current training and experience?
How many pedagogists will the Provincial Centre of Excellence for Early Years and Child Care support?
What approaches to pedagogy, learning, and curriculum does the Provincial Centre of Excellence for Early Years and Child Care invite?