For me teaching is an art, and I long to get as close to perfection as I can with that art. I know – quite an ambitious goal.
In teaching I am always looking at how best to achieve nirvana. The answer for me has been to adopt some of my teaching practice after the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education that originated in the town of Reggio Emilia, Italy.
Reggio Emilia teachers believe that children are strong competent learners who have the right to the best education possible. Nothing short of that will suffice.
Teachers in Reggio Emilia believe that to achieve the best education experience for children a team effort is absolutely necessary. Reggio inspired teaching can’t happen in a vacuum – dialogue and communication are imperative. Parents, teachers, and the environment make up the team needed to have a successful learning experience.
Reggio inspired teachers believe that students learn and communicate through using many different languages. As teachers we are responsible for providing children with these experiences. A rather in-depth reading “The Hundred Languages” speaks to this very idea. Reggio leaders believe so strongly in the 100 languages that they provide an “atelier” (work space, art studio) and “atelierista” (art expert) to every infant and toddler center and to every pre school.
Reggio inspired teachers co-construct knowledge with the children as they focus on short and long-term projects driven by student interest. They see themselves as researchers in understanding how children learn best and implementing those practices.
Seeing myself as a researcher has given new meaning and importance to my role as a teacher. The depth of teaching 4 year-old students becomes deeper and deeper, enriching the learning experiences for both my children and myself. Reggio inspired teachers view themselves as learners and they are always in dialogue with their peers.
Open-ended projects are met with excitement. More important is the journey than the end result.
It is imperative that learning be documented in Reggio Emilia inspired schools. It’s taken seriously. Many hours go into documenting projects and learning as it is happening. Documentation tells the story of the learning as it happens through text, pictures, videos, and concrete projects. Documentation is re-visited by parents, teachers, and children, always hopeful that the learning will go deeper. Documentation is often ground to piggy-back onto new learning.