This weekend I headed up to Mountain View, Ca. No, not to go skiing. Mountain View is the home of Googleland. Yes, it is seriously an enchanted land that takes care of their employees. Think heated toilet seats. But this is not why I was here. I was here for the NAREA conference (North American Reggio Emilia Alliance) to visit the environments of the 4 schools that Google has set up for the children of their employees and listen to the brilliant speakers Lella Gandini and Amelia Gambetti. Each school's name was derived by the environment surrounding the school: The Woods, The Fields, The Wetlands and The Orchards. The Fields is actually surrounded by sports fields- baseball; soccer. But sometimes you just have to go with what you have. (rather than calling the classrooms by type of sports they used animals that would be found in field). I wasn't able to take photos of the environments by I walked away with a multitude of ideas and a renewed motivation for teaching. I've been inspired by the Reggio approach since 2000 but I only began my journey 7 years ago or so. But going back to the conference, it was 2 intense days of listening. Pure listening and observing. Which also made me think about what was going on in the classroom. I realize I need to shut up and listen more that my voice in the classroom is over ruling. American teachers talk way too much. I'm serious, we need to sit back, watch, and listen. Show children that we believe in them. I realize I could go on about this topic but wanted to share some ideas, quotes and books from the last two days. Thinking about the words/stories that I've heard in the classroom, I'm excited for tomorrow to hear more from the children their thoughts, so I can better understand and learn from them. Stay tuned for more exciting news....
Lella Gandini (fourth) and Amelia Gambetti (second)
-When bringing out a new item have the children explore and discuss the properties of the item. For instance, a basket of cut tubes. This shows the child, 1) the item is important; 2)they can provide ideas on how or where to use it in the classroom. Also by collaborating with your children, you are listening and showing them that you value their ideas.
-In the block area provide fabric, pieces of plastic tubing in various sizes, or even corner frames.
-Invite parents in to play with an item, such as clay, before the start of school. Don't forget to take pictures.
-In the Spirit of the Studio
-The Black Book of Colors
-If You Find a Rock
(these books are for the children and you to use as a reference)
"Continue to educate and BE educated."
"Role of the teacher: We need to stop thinking of ourselves as the center of the classroom and give it back to the child."
"The more we limit children, the more we show we don't trust them."
I realize some of you may just be beginning your journey toward being inspired by Reggio. We're all at different points on the path but the main point is is that we are here together.