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Supporting the Collaboration and Communication of the Kindergarten Educator Team

Leah Kearney

ETFO is pleased to announce the publication of Building and Enriching Partnerships in Kindergarten, developed to serve the professional learning needs of members and available through shopETFO.

ETFO represents both partners in many of Ontario’s Kindergarten classrooms: the teacher and the Designated Early Childhood Educator (DECE). Teachers and DECEs work together to support children’s learning. Implementing a carefully planned playbased program that is engaging and geared to each child’s level of development takes collaboration, communication and, above all, flexibility. By working as a team, educators support the overall development and learning of all children and enhance each other’s skills and experiences.

The importance of the teacher and DECE relationship cannot be underestimated as it is foundational to the overall success of the Kindergarten program. The purpose of this resource is to support that growing relationship. Kindergarten team members have complementary skills that allow them to create and foster welcoming and dynamic learning environments. These relationships invite educators to engage in deep conversations, explore new ways of thinking, learn alongside one another, encourage a sense of belonging and recognize the competence of both team members.

Building and Enriching Partnerships in Kindergarten has been produced to help new and existing Kindergarten teams build their partnerships. Featuring the voices and firsthand experiences of elementary teachers and DECEs, readers are provided with strategies, tools and ideas for building an effective team. The resource will support the ongoing professional learning of members involved in Kindergarten through its use of partnership anecdotes, stories from the field, research connections and reflection questions. The writing team included a teacher and a DECE, who shared their story and described the evolution of their partnership. This resource also offers the history of ETFO’s advocacy for the early years, provides approaches to support teamwork, strategies for building trust and supporting communication and gives advice from Professional Relations Services (PRS). While this resource is designed to be used by teams working collaboratively, it can also be used by individuals who are developing their identity as educators. Teams and individuals alike will find helpful information in the resource to support their development.

There are four recurring features throughout the resource that enrich the reader experience:

  • Our Partnership Story provides anecdotes from authors Tracy Sims and Cheryl Yoworski as they share examples of what supported their growth as a team and took them from a struggling partnership to a highly effective and positive one.
  • Stories from the Field contain stories from educators about how they learned and grew from their day-to-day experiences.
  • Questions to Consider are shared throughout the resource to provide starting points for thinking and discussion.
  • Research Connections were written by Dr. Kimberly Bezaire, Early Childhood Educator and researcher, Faculty at Seneca College and appear throughout Building and Enriching Partnerships in Kindergarten to give connections between theory and practice.

Our Kindergarten classrooms are thoughtfully designed to foster, provoke and enhance learning. Within these dynamic spaces, educator teams work together to provide a range of learning experiences that foster and extend learning. These educator teams differ and reflect the uniqueness of both members, but optimal Kindergarten teams have relationships in which they have mutual respect for one another, appreciate one another’s strengths and offer mutual support. ETFO is confident that Building and Enriching Partnerships in Kindergarten will support educators in developing their relationships. It is available for purchase through shopETFO. A video series available on (in the Building and Enriching Partnerships section) compliments the resource and includes keynote speakers as well as some of the Kindergarten teams featured in this resource.

Leah Kearney is a member of the ETFO executive staff.