In November 2013 at Vanier’s Open House, Axel Mews, a teacher from OSZ Barnim College, Germany, approached the Early Childhood Education (ECE) department with the idea of partnering with Vanier. Both Colleges have three year programs in ECE and the ages of the students are similar. The following months of discussion with Judy Macdonald, and Vanier’s and Barnim’s ECE departments resulted in the application for, and the receipt of, a teacher mobility grant from CEGEP International.
In May 2013, Charlotte Marcella traveled to Barnim. The purpose of the trip was three-fold: to foster a cultural exchange, to discuss and implement active learning strategies in the ECE college classroom and to explore the possibility of a student exchange between the two colleges. During her two week stay, Charlotte audited ECE classes and implemented active learning strategies. She also had numerous opportunities to visit ECE stage placements in and around Bernau. Students are offered a wide variety of experiences working with children under the age of twelve. Placements can be with preschool children (under the age of six in Germany) school age children (six –twelve) and children with special needs or those living in group homes. First and third year students are encouraged to work together to plan and implement special projects in their placements. These visits stimulated discussion about stage placements, learning outcomes and faculty supervisory techniques.
We look forward to welcoming Angela Lehrman vor Ort (the coordinator of the ECE program in Barnim College) and Axel Mews to Montreal and Vanier in October 2014. We would like to continue our discussions of pedagogical strategies and they will see our Nursery lab school in action as well as attend classes and stage. During their visit we hope to finalize the details and terms of the ECE student exchange which hopefully will come to fruition within the next academic year.