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Great Start

Making the best environments for learning
Posted on 09/04/2018
Tara Bissonnette

(Windsor, Ontario, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018) – Helping our earliest learners get off to a great start takes a great deal of thought and planning, and now there’s a point person who will coordinate all of the best ideas to make sure our kindergarten classrooms are the best environments for students to begin their education.

“We really want to develop our learning environments so that we create a culture of inquiry,” said Tara Bissonnette, who was recently named the WECDSB’s new Early Years lead teacher.

Bissonnette’s primary purpose will be to work alongside educators to make sure their classrooms are set up to make them conducive to promote inquiry-based learning as well as helping students learn about self-regulation.

“It’s not just the physical space, but the resources that are in the room too,” she added. “It’s all about play-based learning, but it’s purposeful. Inquiry is embedded into the curriculum.”

Sharing best practices that help children learn to self-regulate will be a huge benefit for educators, especially in terms of classroom management, she said. If children are able to self regulate, there’s a lower likelihood of disciplinary problems.

 “Children need to learn about turn-taking, sharing and listening,” she said. “They need to learn how to regulate their emotions. If kids can’t self-regulate, it interferes with their learning at all ages. We have strategies and tools they need to help with this so they’lle be ready and able to continue learning as they get older.”

Bissonnette said she can’t wait to get started in her new role.

“I love this age group and I love this program,” said the mother of two young children, ages four and six. “There’s so much growth happening at this level. You even see it happening on a day-to-day basis.”

Bissonnette’s extensive knowledge and experience in the kindergarten program have beautifully prepared her for her new role, according to Superintendent Melissa Farrand, whose portfolio includes early years education.

“Tara truly believes in the rich potential of children, and the importance of play and inquiry within the learning environment,” she said. “She is very approachable and has a natural ability to motivate and inspire others. I’m confident that her fellow educators will welcome her as a supportive team member in their quest to enhance the experience of our youngest learners.”

After 15 years with the board – seven of them at the early years level – she appreciates that there will be teachers out there with far more experience than her. With that in mind, she sees her role more as a facilitator of best practices.

“I’m excited to learn from my colleagues as well,” she said. “I want to take what they’ve learned and what I’ve learned and share it with other educators.”

Bissonnette stressed the importance of kindergarten teachers and early childhood educators taking a team approach to advancing learning in their classrooms.

“They’ve been trained differently,” she said, “so they have to respect each other’s strengths and contributions.”

How those people view children plays a critical role in the educational success of their students, Bissonnette said.

“You need to look at the child through an ‘asset lens,’” she said. “You have to be able to see what the child is capable of. When you view the child through that lens, there’s so much that’s possible.”

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