The Bear Park culture
Key to any successful learning environment is a sense of partnership.
That holds true for parents and teachers, and also for teachers and children.
Often overlooked, however, are the equally-vital partnerships among teaching staff.
Bear Park preschools are committed to creating meaningful bonds between their kaiako (teachers) that foster a culture of collaboration, professional development, wellness, and a desire to thrive.
“The work culture at Bear Park is one of partnership, where everyone works alongside each other to create and offer the best learning outcomes for children”, says current teacher Katie.
“I value the respect that we are given as a teacher within a teaching team, and the way that Bear Park embraces and celebrates diversity,” she adds.
Bear Park is a leading network of early childhood education centres, founded in 1986, which now has 11 sites throughout Auckland and Dunedin.
The centres truly value their teaching staff, manifest by the exceptional professional development opportunities and an unwavering focus on promoting wellness.
“We encourage our teachers to become the best teacher they can be,” says founder and director Sue Stevely-Cole.
Key to that is the provision of professional and leadership development programmes.
Following the Reggio Emilia philosophy devised in Italy around 70 years ago, Bear Park centres offer inspiring professional development opportunities.
They allow teachers to explore, understand and adopt new research and practices aimed at enhancing children’s learning.
These include hosting international and local speakers as well as external visits within New Zealand and abroad.
“To support my career as a teacher, Bear Park has paid for me to attend several training courses that have been invaluable to me for my continued growth as a teacher,” says current Bear Park teacher Clare.
Every week, Bear Park teams come together for planning meetings – a rich exchange that takes place during working hours and is aimed at generating new ideas, practices and approaches to learning.
Current teacher Lyn says the collaborative approach is held in high regard.
“Our three dedicated hours together as a team has lead to many amazing investigation pathways and experiences planned for the children within our centres,” she says.
Fellow teacher Palmoa says taking the time out to plan together is invaluable, and feels she can voice her opinion “without feeling rushed”.
“The dedicated paid non-contact time I get at Bear Park allows my personal time to be my own,” she adds.
None of this would be possible without ensuring teachers are able to care for themselves and their own health.
Teachers’ well-being is paramount to Bear Park, and a Wellness Programme is offered throughout the year.
It encourages teachers to reach their own health goals with the help of the seven natural and scientific principles of wellbeing and physical health, namely movement, nutrition, hydration, community, thoughts, sleep, and breathing.