Friday, May 1, 2015

Teacher's & Loose Parts

Why do some groups of children work so proficiently with loose parts while others show no interest?
The environments are equally enriched with them, so what then is the problem?
The fault, for lack of better word, may be with the teachers, who are either intimidated by them or have no interest in expanding their thinking.
I have always supported the fact that teachers must be the first explorers of loose parts. 
They must be willing to engage, construct, and see the many possibilities they offer.
This does not mean they should do the work for the children. It does however lend itself to the thought that teachers, who are comfortable with loose parts, may then provide provocations for their use.
Just a thought....

The Awesome Big Blue Crystal Castle

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Sometimes a Voice is Added When the Work is Done

We often wonder what children think when they begin to assemble these types of "structures". I use that word for lack of a better one. I've come to know that children don't always have a plan and many, if not most times, things happen serendipitously. These types of experiences are full of leaning opportunities. As teachers we should always be observing, listening and when the moment is right, engaging. This clever group of three year old children began this structure with no particular design in mind. The teacher perhaps did have a thought in placing the materials in use close to the window. The sunlight was her accomplice!
As the light beamed through the window and through the translucent materials colorful shadows were cast onto the floor. 
The children noticed the colors and 
 dubbed their structure,  "The Rainbow Tower!"  

Alonso, "The sun made the rainbow."
Phoebe pointed to her tower, “This is a rainbow tower because it has lots of colors like the rainbow”.
Johnny responded, “There was a rainbow in my backyard and after it rained the rainbow came through the sky”.
The Teacher asked, "How many colors does the rainbow have?"
Johnny answered, "There are five. Look at my hand, I have five fingers so there are five colors in the rainbow. We can check on the internet." (a frequently used tool in the classroom)
After researching Johnny concluded that there are seven colors in a rainbow. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Did they Have a Plan?

When we look at this experience we can't help but wonder if these two boys had a plan before they began their work or did it just happen?
To suggest that the building of this system was intentional would imply a high level of thinking. Some would say that children this young do not have the ability to plan ahead.
What do you think?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

How Far Have We Come?

How Far Have We Come?

In recent years, due largely to the power of social media, many educators have joined the Reggio journey. Fueled by powerful images of extraordinary work, teacher's have been inspired to produce similar results. The question is, have they grasped the underlying support system that brings this phenomenal dialogue to light? I call it a dialogue because without the reciprocity between the protagonists (children, families and educators), the pedagogy of listening, the gift of time, the nurturing of relationships, the supportive environment, and mindfulness, nothing meaningful can happen. It is here, in this intricate system that learning happens.  

Over the last twenty years, teachers and tour groups have flooded our centre in hopes of finding inspiration to make changes to their traditional methods of working with children. The patterns are the same; one visit, a scramble to view the documentation, the frenzy to take the best pictures, pens scribbling notes, and a few select questions.  Then they are off to their own setting in hopes of reproducing what they have seen. I often wonder what happens in the aftermath of these visits. My twenty years of researching and struggling to find meaning, still leaves me conflicted. 

The greatest investment must come from a teacher's own desire to continue her journey of learning. No craft can be practiced without ongoing education and repeated experiences. What we do not know we can learn through the pursuit of knowledge. The world is at our fingertips.
I do I hold a Masters in Education.  Instead, I consider that after 33 years of working experience with young children and teachers, I have earned a Masters that comes from being on ground zero.  I have been fueled by a desire to know the new. 
Lack of a paper degree, cannot be a teacher's crutch.

A great man once told me, 'Anyone can be elevated to new levels of thinking, doing and being should they so desire."

In response to the repeated question, where do I begin, I say this;
There is no perfect answer.
Every journey will be different as each teacher is unique.

Examine your beliefs and practices.
 Look closely at your environment and the manner in which you engage your children each day. 
Make your new journey a mindful one.
Surround yourself with people of the same mindset.
Be patient, anticipate set backs and know that your will never "get there."
Each day brings challenges and change and that is the wonder of the journey. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Coco and Her Snowman!

Coco’s Snowman

 4 year-old Coco showed tremendous confidence while painting the last scene of “Sadie and the Snowman”. She discussed, with the teacher, what she wanted to paint and how she wanted it done. All the while, she learned to apply the delicate water color painting techniques she had learned, with precision. The end result is winter scenery come alive!

“We build snowmen in winter time. But they melt in summer time. I wanted to paint the snowman from the book. I drew the cat and the birds so the snowman won’t be lonely.”