September 10, 2022

Pedagogy of Play Teacher Education Resources

Megina Baker

Have you heard the saying “teachers teach the way they were taught”? Our Pedagogy of Play team has found, over the course of our research in four countries around the globe, that playful learning begins with playful teaching. Yet many teachers didn’t experience playful learning as children themselves, and need opportunities to shift their thinking about teaching practices in order to foster playful learning for the students in their classrooms. That’s why my colleague Ben Mardell and I have spent the past few years developing a set of Pedagogy of Play Teacher Education Resources, designed to be used by teacher educators as they prepare pre-service teachers at teaching colleges and universities. In this post we’ll share how the resources were developed, what they include, and how you can find and access them - for free!

How were the Resources developed?

When we started this project, I was teaching full-time in the teacher education program at Boston University. I had the great pleasure of teaching a course on learning through play to undergraduate and graduate students. In that course, we piloted materials for the PoP Teacher Education Resources, starting with the findings from our research, as well as research on play and playful learning we have reviewed and built upon over the course of the PoP project. We built a draft of a 14-week course, designed around three core questions:

Why do we need a pedagogy of play?
What does learning through play look like and feel like in different cultural contexts?
How can we promote a pedagogy of play?

Over the next two years, Ben and I worked in collaboration with a global network of amazing teacher educators to test, iterate, and adapt the course materials. Meeting regularly via Zoom, we were able to bring together over 30 teacher educators from more than 12 countries (click on the pins in the link above to learn more about our collaborators).

The variety of the contexts and cultures in which we all teach enriched the Resources, and created a network of playful teacher educators that will continue to meet regularly to share ideas and experiences as we prepare the next generation of playful classroom teachers. Here are a few snapshots from our most recent gathering:

What do the Teacher Education Resources include?

All of the teacher education resources are available for free at this link. When you visit that website here’s what you’ll see:

The resources include:

An instructor guide with detailed information about each course session
A course syllabus that can be shared with teacher candidates
PowerPoint slides for each course session
Activity Cards and Assignments that supplement information in the instructor guide
Suggested readings
A library of classroom videos from a range of age groups and geographies that can promote discussions of playful learning

If you’re a teacher educator, coach, or someone who leads teacher professional learning, we hope you will explore, adapt, and hack the materials as you see fit, using all or some of the course sessions. The materials are designed primarily with pre-service teachers in mind, but can also be adapted to use with in-service educators to promote their professional learning.

As we wrote in the Instructor Guide, take this “License to Hack” card -- use it well as you explore and hack the Teacher Education Resources, making them your own and using them to promote playful teaching, and playful learning, wherever you are.