Pedagogical Values and Commitments

Pedagogical Values and Commitments

At Seneca ECE Lab School we co-create and live within strong pedagogical values and commitments. While they are grounded in a solid foundation, we view them as fluid, evolving and ever changing as we respond to our context in today’s world and the worlds of tomorrow.

We are committed to and value…

  •  working towards and with the calls to actions of the TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada)
  • the creation of diverse and inclusive spaces
  • responsive relationships at the core of all we do. This connects to our Image of the child, educator, family, environment and the more-than-human world.
  • a strong image of the child as a person with rights
  • a strong image of the educator as a co-learner and researcher
  • a strong image of the family as a collaborator in our community
  • a strong image of the environment as a third teacher
  • pedagogical documentation as a place and process for noticing, researching, storytelling, sharing and reflective practice.
  • our role in mentorship and support for ECE students in collaboration with faculty.
  • collaborative partnerships in research and professional development, based in reciprocity with the larger ECE community throughout Ontario, Canada and the world.

Commitments to the TRC

We acknowledge and recognize the land on which the Lab School is built as the traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and that we are guests upon this land. We work to uphold our shared obligation to protect the land in the spirit of peace, friendship and respect.

In relationship with the FirstPeoples@Seneca, children, educators, students and families are introduced to Indigenous knowledges through participating in various traditional ceremonies and teachings. 

Inclusion and Diversity

At Seneca ECE Lab School we take an anti-bias approach to creating inclusive spaces. An anti-bias  approach  is an active/activist approach to challenging prejudice, stereotyping, bias and the “isms”. Educators openly acknowledge differences, model and provide information about people (past and present) who have worked to change unfair rules or practices. This approach is especially important for children and families of colour, indigenous communities and those belonging to the LGBTQ+ community or any minority because it validates their lives and experiences.

The anti-bias environment provides opportunities for exploring identities including but  not  limited  to  gender, age, cultural backgrounds, language or dialect spoken, race, sexual orientation, marital status, family status or disabilities.

Responsive Relationships

Seneca ECE Lab School is committed to building, facilitating and encouraging healthy, positive and responsive relationships within our community. This includes children, educators, families, student teachers, faculty, outside agencies and professional learning communities. We believe that these relationships begin with respect and communication. Each person at the Seneca ECE Lab School is valued and considered part of the community. Educators commit to developing a relationship with each child and to understand each child’s unique way of expressing, communicating and learning. We value and actively take part in building relationships through ongoing communication. We believe in the value of listening to the hundred languages of children. 

Image of the Child

We hold a strong image of the child; complex, powerful and full of potential. Seneca ECE Lab School honours the holistic development of each child; creating a foundation where children are citizens and always in relation with others, materials, the environment and the land. Educators support discussion, guide and encourage children to listen to each other’s verbal and non-verbal language and expression, to approach others with care, concern and empathy. This pedagogical practice of in relation with others fosters various forms of engagement, expression, well-being and belonging. Children prove to be resourceful, creative, competent and true problem solvers. They are natural explorers, inquisitive; and through play, exploration and relationships learn and live well together.

We see children as citizens with rights. They are free to express their own ideas and desires through all of their hundred languages. We believe in children’s capabilities to guide the learning process.

Image of the Educator

We hold a strong image of the educator, complex, powerful and full of potential, a co-learner, and guide with others. Our image of the educator moves away from a traditional role of information provider, expert or rule keeper to one of co-creator/learner/researcher with children.

More than a facilitator, educators listen in a hundred ways and respond in a hundred, hundred more. Embracing a passion of lifelong learning, we engage in daily reflective practice with self and others.

“Children are most likely to engage in long, complex episodes of play and demonstrate interest in learning when educators value their ideas and contributions to the curriculum. Children’s engagement and learning are enhanced when educators are co-learners” (HDLH .p37).

Part of the educator’s role is to co-create the conditions for an environment cohesive to learning and living well together. Working alongside children, with mutual respect, as partners and co-creators in a process of discovery, inquiry and learning for all.

Image of the Family

We hold a strong image of the family as a contributing member of our community; the first and most important educator of the child; complex, powerful and full of potential. A co-learner and partner, sharing in the process and journey of learning. Families offer knowledge and a unique perspective of their child. We embrace working collaboratively with and supporting families as equal members in our community. Educators encourage families’ presence, participation and engagement within our community in many ways. 

“Fostering good relationships with children and their families is the single most important priority for educators in early year’s programs” (HDLH, P.24.)

Our community would not be complete if families did not share a sense of belonging. We continuously  develop authentic relationships with families through the celebration of each of our unique stories.

Through dialogue and documentation, we truly value the connection created in sharing the moments we have the honour of experiencing with their children.

Environment as the Third Teacher

We view the environment as complex and full of potential with clear choices as a reflection of our values. This is relevant in both our indoor and outdoor learning environments; one not more important than the other.

Educators design and organize these environments with the view of these spaces as the third teacher. We believe space speaks, and the care and purposefulness we place on creating an authentic and beautiful space in the classroom silently conveys the message that this is an important and meaningful place to people who encounter it. However, the environment is more than just beautiful aesthetics; it is an expression of our philosophical and pedagogical choices and values.

We are committed to creating spaces based in being in relation to the world around us. We place a focus on building relationship with materials, space, time, each other and the more-than-human beings in our world. Connecting with the natural world, of which we are a part, is embedded throughout our environments both indoors and outdoors, seeking to cultivate relationships between all beings based in care, empathy and love.  

Pedagogical Documentation

We believe in the power of Pedagogical documentation as a place for educators to engage in reflective practice and critical thinking as well as to reflect on children’s learning which supports future curriculum. Through the process of creating documentation and the reflection process, our views, pedagogy and core foundations grow and change.

Student Mentorship

Seneca ECE Lab School educators mentor ECE students completing their field placement practicums. We strive to make students feel welcome and part of the team, developing a personal connection, while challenging them to explore other perspectives. 

The College of Early Childhood Educators (CECE) defines mentorship as:

 “A reciprocal relationships-based and process oriented professional learning experience between two individuals (a mentor and a mentee) in the early learning and care sector. The purpose of the relationship is to learn and improve professional practice through reflective practice, self-directed learning and collaboration.” 

In this role, we translate and share our philosophy, values and beliefs and engage in dialogue; provoking critical and reflective thinking. We seek to help make visible how  pedagogies students are studying live within practice. Students in turn bring their own lens into our community, providing new insights for educators to continue learning in reciprocity. Educators value students as a part of our early learning team.

Partnerships in Research and Professional Development

Seneca ECE Lab School is established as a leader in the field and has demonstrated an on-going commitment to extending professional learning opportunities. We have engaged in dialogues with others to support the emergence of the evolution of their own pedagogical thinking and practices. Seneca ECE Lab School has been established as a community consultant in helping to strengthen the philosophical values at various early learning centres as they seek to explore change and move towards a play based, emergent curriculum and holistic model.

Seneca ECE Lab School values its relationships with other educators; both locally and internationally. We are committed to establishing communities of practice to further promote growth, learning and a sense of community both in person and online. Through a variety of professional development offerings, including workshops, webinars, blog posts and facilitated dialogues, we hope to further our own pedagogical thinking as well as inspire and connect with others.