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This chapter provides an overview of how the Handbook contributes to a deeper understanding of teaching and learning interactions in early childhood education. To begin, we highlight the skillful work of teachers in their interactions with young children and the centrality of these interactions to learning and development. We then explain how research in conversation analysis serves as a professional learning resource for early childhood teachers, given the transparency and accessibility of the method and the illustrations of practice provided by transcripts of interactions in early learning environments. We also provide a brief overview of the wealth of studies in conversation analysis in early childhood and consider what this body of research contributes to our understanding of pedagogy. Finally, an overview of each chapter in this Handbook shows how recordings of teachers talking with children can reveal the distinct mechanisms of high-quality interactions and how these elements can be incorporated into everyday pedagogical practice in early childhood environments.
Early years teaching programs at undergraduate level introduce student teachers to sociocultural theorists such as Vygotsky, Bruner and Rogoff. Situating teaching techniques within these theoretical perspectives encourages student teachers to work with children within the metaphor of a ‘zone of proximal development’ (Vygotsky) to ‘scaffold’ (Bruner) children from one level of knowledge to the next through ‘guided participation’ (Rogoff). Understanding pedagogical interaction as a social and collaborative event between teacher and child is fundamental, but these metaphors can be challenging – particularly for pre-service teachers – in the practical implementation of early years curricula frameworks. Excerpts of real-life everyday interactions between teachers and young children explored using conversation analysis can demonstrate what the role of the early years teacher might look like when participating in a ‘zone of proximal development’ with children. The skilful ways in which teachers ‘scaffold’ learning with children through ‘guided participation’ in verbal and non-verbal turn taking will then be demonstrated. Through this exploration, the chapter brings together contemporary socio-cultural approaches to early years teaching and ethnomethodology’s concern with the practical achievement of participation to explain how participation frameworks provide a useful lens for understanding pedagogical interaction between children and teachers.
Research evidence in early childhood education and care underscores the importance of high-quality interactions between children and educators – be they teachers, childcare workers, parents or family members – for improving children’s outcomes. We know that rich conversations can support and extend children’s interests through language and attuned feedback, essential for children’s learning and development. The introductory chapter explained that while the importance of high-quality interactions is widely acknowledged in early childhood education, how this can be achieved deserves more attention. Every chapter in this book details particular types of talk between children, their peers and educators, where all authors use conversation analysis to achieve this goal. The aim of this chapter is to introduce and explain the fundamentals of the methodology of conversation analysis and how conversation analysis is ‘done’ so that readers can engage with the analysis and findings in the chapters that follow. We also draw attention to the usefulness of a conversation analysis approach in ECEC research and practice.
Early childhood teachers know that the quality of child-teacher interactions has an impact on children's social and educational outcomes. Talking with children is central to early learning, but the significant details of high quality conversations in early childhood settings are not always obvious. This Handbook brings together experts from across the globe to share evidence of teachers talking with children in early learning environments. It applies the methodology of conversation analysis to questions about early childhood education, and shows why this method of studying discourse can be a valuable resource for professional development in early childhood. Each chapter of this Handbook includes an up-to-date literature review; shows how interactional pedagogy can be achieved in everyday interactions; and demonstrates how to apply this learning in practice. It offers unique insights into real-life early childhood education practices, based on robust research findings, and provides practical advice for teaching and talking with children.
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