In this chapter you will:
1. characterise the role of the ‘intentional’ teacher within the Australian context, and the process of planning for learning to ensure the effectiveness of children's learning programs
2. identify evidence-based teaching strategies and interventions that are known to advance young children's learning and higher-order thinking
3. consider the balance, purpose and intent of adult-led and child-led learning in play-based educational programs.
To make a positive difference to each child's learning and development is the core work of teachers, at once posing unique challenges and delivering great reward. Teaching children from birth to eight years of age affords real opportunity to ensure that ‘none of the talents which are hidden like buried treasure in every person [are] left untapped’ (International Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Century, 1996, p. 23). Delors and colleagues set four key pillars underlying education and life: ‘learning to know’, ‘learning to do’, ‘learning to be’ and ‘learning to live together’ (International Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Century), and each of these pillars affects the processes that teachers deploy to assess, plan for and promote children's learning. No matter whether teachers work with infants, toddlers, young children or children in their first years of schooling, the quality of planning to support children's learning, and the pedagogical strategies selected, will be strongly influenced by each teacher's knowledge and understandings of children and their development, interests and culture, and the learning theories and strategies available to support learning (see also Chapter 1).
In this chapter, the role of teachers in promoting children's learning and development is explored. Emphasis is placed of the role of the intentional teacher and the importance of the planning cycle, including documentation. Research has highlighted that what teachers know and do has the power to heighten children's motivation to learn and their love of learning, while also strengthening children's capacity to engage progressively in higher-order thinking (Hamre et al., 2013; Siraj & Asani, 2015). A core skill of teachers is to make children's learning visible to the children themselves and to others, including families who are acknowledged as the child's first teachers.