Bishop Strachan School
DAY ONE (1)
Today we begin the journey… with Mary Jane Miller & Ellen Brown
Many housekeeping details have come up and then a history of Reggio as I have never heard it been told…. The push mostly by women to build an educational environment that would foster the critical thinking that could rebuff fascism in the future; in a place dominated by communist politics; aligned with the women’s movement; situated in an agricultural hub;
Then some of the principles of Reggio that make if different from emergent curriculum:
- differences valued
- conceptions of beauty
- role of relationships
Collecting information that is different from our North American traditions~ are there grandparents to support, for example?
School as a living organism >> it grows, it moves, any change affects all of its parts. Yet the Ontario curriculum disassociates aesthetics, emotions, etc. Pedagogical documentation for meaning making not for the “North American Question” : assessment and evaluation.
Today the reading was Emergent Curriculum by Carol Anne Wien. We discussed it very briefly. The parts that resonated for me are quoted here:
The intent of emergent curriculum is to slow down and deepen positive relationships among children, teachers, families and their environment.
Emergent curriculum then is also the teacher’s inquiry into what children know and understand and how that understanding can be stretched and deepened. This inquiry goes beyond the early childhood classroom to encounter the landscape and community that surrounds children in their child care centre. How can the teachers help the children participate in the life of their community as interested citizens, and how can that community be invited t take its youngest citizens into the midst so they and their educators are not isolated from its life?
Wien then goes through the possible stages in teacher development in Emergent Curriculum:
- the challenged teachers
- the novice
- the practicing teacher
- the master teacher
Wien also talks about building ‘layers’ into an effective program. These layers include
- serious conversation to find out what children think
- many modes of expression,
- generous expanses of time (and doing things many times)
- rich resources,
- parent involvement,
- carefully prepared activities,
- collaborative sharing,
- teacher study
I found myself sub-consciously using this as a checklist against my own program structure. In some respects I win, sometimes I lose! Wien also uses an expression that I found myself using verbatim – to a new colleague coming to the Early Learning Program: …it is not for the faint of heart.
We viewed and discussed La Storia d’ombra from Reggio as well.
DAY TWO (2)
Today we were assigned a translation of a Loris Malaguzzi article, ‘Your Image of the Child: Where Teaching Begins”
Best line so far?…. Clearly this one:
“This theory within you pushes you to behave in certain ways”
He writes, “we are always contaminated with the experiences that we bring with us.”…. School can never be always predictable. We ned to be open to what takes place and able to change our plans and go with what might grow at the very moment both inside the child and inside ourselves…. Life has to be somewhat agitated and upset, a bit restless, somewhat unknown… we need to be comfortable with the restless nature of life.”
He describes the role of the adult as the creator of relationships, and not as a transmitter.
I was especially struck with the section entitled, “Forging Alliances with Families” where Malaguzzi writes:
We need to make a big impression on parents, amaze them, convince them that what we are doing is something extremely important for their children and for them, that we are producing and working with children to understand their intelligence and their intelligences.
We also were assigned a drawing activity that forced us to make visible what we could hear. We were to share our meaning making; to think about lines representing time, and the reasons for what we drew.
We watched a slide show from Portland Oregon and the Opal School where the research question was about how to grow empathy. They examined good guys vs bad guys.
We were then assigned random quotes from Rinaldi’s In Dialogue with Reggio Emilia and we had to consider the quotes and how it translates in the project we were examining.
Day THREE (3)
The reading today was an article about the evolution of pedagogical documentation by Carol Anne Wien. See link below:
We discussed how the educator is ‘lending consciousness” when demonstrating how to use new equipment or materials. See Project Zero p. 58 A Day at School or p. 49 math example, The Right Price.
We presented our ideas about the quotes.
We used the language of wire to translate our meaning making in sound. We tried to do an off the cuff documentation of each other.
We were visited by Lana O’Reilly from Pape Avenue Public School TDSB who shared some documentation about alphabet work. We rushed to follow her on Twitter and on Instagram @shimmerteach . She was that impressive….
Day FOUR (4)
Finally the tour of Heather’s classroom at Bishop Strachan.
My observations in short:
- Centre Decoration explains each centre in large graphic panels to all visitors but is not documentation.
- art material mixed and beautifully organized by colour.
- popcorn words are out
- many student made mobiles
- use of ten frame for attendance (pictures at first, then names only)
- math based on Cathy Fosnot (I immediately ordered this from OCT library!)
- MISSING centres include: HOUSE; WATER; SAND; DINING TABLES
- tracking of use of centres every week – a log is used by the teachers
- Lucy Cawkins Writer’s Workshop used for literacy
We chatted and debriefed about this opportunity to observe the classroom and went on to examine more pedagogical documentation from Reggio Emilia to try and discern the “theory” of the educator who created it. Our group had an interesting conversation about translation. For example, the word ‘lovely’ was used. BT argued it meant beauty. I argued the children were implying ‘full of love’. The whole conversation left me thinking more deeply about translation in general, and the assumptions made by any translator.