Our Pedagogical Approach to Professional Learning

By: Diane Kashin, Ed.D, RECE.  I have been teaching adults in the college classroom and beyond for many, many memorable years. Professional collaboration has resulted in the provision of personally transformative professional learning experiences that have gifted me with opportunities to engage with inspiring educators from all over the world in real and virtual time. My practice has evolved and has gained momentum over the last decade in part due to the theories of David Hawkins. Instead of being the “sage on the stage” or the experts in front of the room, we invite learners to mess about – whether it be with ideas, languages, technology, or materials. Recently I shared a memorable evening with 30 others engaged in the three phases of the theory of “Messing About.”

The diagram below illustrates the process we followed in this two-hour experience.


The theory of “Messing About” provides a framework for professional learning and I have embraced the theory in my classrooms as well in facilitated workshop experiences that I provide together. On November 21st, I have the honour to work with a former student, Stephanie Ritchi, a toddler teacher at the Acorn School (the toddlers look out of the window as Acorn School in the photo below) when we facilitate a professional learning experience at the conference: “Embracing the Early Years: Enhancing our Knowledge of Early Years Care 0 to 3” in Hamilton, Ontario on November 23rd, 2013. Through the sharing of images and ideas about Reggio-inspired practice with infants and toddlers, Stephanie and I will, together with others, mess about, explore possibilities, and reflect.

Toddlers at Acorn School

In my collaborations with others  I see myself as a teacher, learner and researcher. I look forward to many more collaborations with the Acorn School as I value, respect and learn from their inspiring practice with children. I continually look for opportunities to share and learn with others. I invite you to follow my blog as I post more invitations for professional learning. I invite you to consider customizing with me professional learning experiences that I can bring to your contexts, complete with materials for messing about. Please contact me at: diane.kashin@gmail.com


Carlina Rinaldi speaks at length about the concept of “teacher as researcher.” Being “open towards others and towards everything that is produced by the encounter with others” attests to the teacher as researcher and the school as a place of research (Rinaldi, 2003, p. 3). I am grateful to Rosalba Bortolotti for realizing and sustaining the Acorn School as a site for research. Rinaldi (2013) suggests that the teacher who sees his or herself as a learner and researcher requires endless effort but together with our children, we can “understand and live learning as an act of love” (p. 61). For more inspiration on teacher as researcher, please see the links below.






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