Friday, November 22, 2019

Never Quit and Greatness becomes Inevitable

I often find myself reflecting on children's abilities to tackle new tasks, solve problems and meet  challenges with undaunted determination.
In their first year of life alone they learn to lift their heads, roll over, crawl, walk, eat on their own, babble, talk, dance...The list is endless.
Children are an unstoppable force.
If we could harness that ability and carry it with us throughout our lives we would all achieve such greatness.
I'm not referring to the stuff that legends or heroes are made of, I mean the greatness that comes from doing and being the best version of ourselves; applying ourselves to the work we choose, the relationships we have and simply the way we respond to whatever life throws at us.

There are a handful of women who have been part of my life story who live and lived this way. The unsung heroes who set examples for others and in their own way make a huge impact.

I keep them in my heart and in my mind as I plunge ahead and greet each new day.


































Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Lost in the Noise


If you are a baby boomer you will remember a childhood filled with adventure; days playing hide and seek, street hockey, family picnics at conservation parks, hop scotch, dodge ball, tag. Our parents left us to our own devices-often not hollering for us to come inside until the sun had set.
We skipped stones in rivers, fished, dug for worms and lost ourselves in the art of play.
We had little in the way of toys and certainly no electronics.
We made our own. We were imaginative and intuitive.

That was the childhood of yesterday.
It's no wonder the baby boomer generation will be remembered as one of the most successful in history.
Our children, the millennial's saw some of this as well. 

Much has changed in the last 40 years since I became an educator and a mother.

Today a barren landscape sits before us.
For the most part parks are empty, the roads are devoid of warriors playing ball hockey or tag. 

Where have all the children gone?
Are they sitting in front of computers, tablets, wrapped in video games and the never ending droning of baby shark songs?

Is this what childhood has become?

Parents running from one organized activity to another, thinking more is better, with little time for their children to erect block towers, splash around in rain water and dig for worms.

Children are handed tablets in infancy and people think its magnificent that an infant knows how to swipe.
Trust me its not.

This is a generation with their noses buried in cell phones-concerned with who has the most likes and followers, all the while the beauty what makes a good relationships escapes them.

Let's face it, technology will only become more sophisticated. It is here to stay.

However as a society we must find a way to return to many of the things valued by the childhood of yesterday.

Our children deserve it and we must demand it!



Monday, June 24, 2019

Find Inspiration in Experiences from the Past

It can be challenging to be at your best all the time. Being a teacher is exhilarating but it is also physically, emotionally and intellectually exhausting.
So, it's perfectly okay to turn to your past experiences with children and use them to prompt new work and discussions around a project or topic. You don't always have to reinvent the wheel so to speak.
In fact, make it a habit to find ways to preserve work so you, like the children, can scaffold your learning journey.
In this instance, I used a book that I made to prompt the children.






Thursday, May 30, 2019

There is Always time to Marvel

It's hard to believe that at times you may feel that you are at a loss as to what to explore with your students. In these moments just turn to Nature for inspiration, especially in the Spring when life begins anew.

All our children have been quite busy with all manner of bugs, birds, animals, trees, flowers and so much more.

With loose parts, we like to think big!






Friday, March 22, 2019

The Liminal Space-The Great In Between



What is the Liminal Space?
"The Latin word for threshold. A time between the what was and the what's next. A place of transition, waiting and not knowing. That moment right before you are about to take the plunge, next step and make a decision. It is an important space filled with choice and great power
www.jothi.ca

It is where all transformation takes place.

This is where children exist, in the Liminal Space as they are in a state of constant transformation; between the familiar and the unknown, a place where old beliefs are challenged and new ones are formed.

A space where there is no fear to move forward. As adults, fear is our greatest inhibitor. It holds us back because we have a need to know all outcomes.
Children do not have these limitations because their life experiences have not left them jaded and afraid. They have no need to control outcome so they plunge in new directions without fear and limitations imposed by fear of choice.

Childhood is a time of great joy and discovery.
By their very nature, children are inquisitive, eager to know more, they test their limits and seek answers. They are constantly making choices.

 The only way to move forward and break boundaries is to exist in the Liminal Space. 

Children are constantly making connections, most times subconsciously between what was, what happened and where to go next. I'm not referring to the choices they make knowing what consequences will follow, such as acceptable behavious.

 Instead I'm referring to the plunge into exploring, delving, seeking, questing and adventuring.









Saturday, October 13, 2018

Let us Wonder Together

This week I found myself redesiging the JK-Sk classroom. While I was in the room, I kept my ears on the children's conversations and my eyes on their experiences. As I often do, I was listening for possiblities to move in new directions.
I glanced over at few children who were erecting a structure in front of the projection screen. There was no conversation between them as they were focused on their task. I couldn't help but marvel at the shadows that were being cast. In fact, even Oliver's glasses were distinguishable on the screen.
I made my way over to them.
"Your shadows are amazing!"
The children looked at me as if to say, "Would they be anything short of amazing?"
Then, I posed a question.
"Do your shadows do the same work as you?"
They did not respond to my question. Instead they turned to the screen to reflect on their shadows.
They moved their arms up and down and jumped.
Oliver turned to me and said,
"They do the same as we do!"
I questioned him about the size of his shadow in comparison to his actual size.
He looked at the shadow and thought about my question.
However, he did not respond.
I knew this would be a point to return to once I prepared the documentation.  I would address the question when he could reflect on the photo.
The next day, I printed a poster sized print of this picture and presented it to the class.
I told the children why I'd taken the photo and I also mentioned the intial question I had asked Oliver and his classmates.
"Do our shadows do the same work as we do?"
The children assured me that they do.
I then asked a few other questions.

"Do our shadows wait for us when we wake up in the morning?
Are they always with us?
Can we always see them and if not are they still there?

Once the group dispersed, I asked Oliver to reflect on the photo to see if he could answer my previous question.
"Why does your shadow seem larger than you?"
He looked at me with a question in his eyes.

And so we begin a new journey of wondering together.


Monday, September 3, 2018

Expectations and Reality



It’s been a busy and exciting summer at Reggio Kids.  We hosted educators from abroad and home and supported schools in their journey toward being Reggio inspired!
We thank them for placing their faith in our abilities to assist them along the way as they transform their thinking around working with children and their environments.

Change, is both a daunting and rewarding process that takes time and commitment to begin and sustain.

As I answer questions about our work, I am constantly led back to my most important piece of advice.  There will be a great divide between your expectations and reality. Defined expectations will leave you disappointed. Instead think of it as path that appears to have an end yet when you get there it veers right and then left, it goes upward toward a mountain peak and then down toward the river bank. This is a Reggio inspired journey.
There is no end that you are working toward. Instead, it as a great adventure with no final destination. It is all about the ride. Just when you believe you are a master, the children will make you the student. Therein lays the magnificence of transformation!
Yes, our schools have rich environments, a loose part studio, beautiful playgrounds, walls lined with the echoes of students both past and present but do not let that fool you. We also have great struggles that an inherent in the everyday life of running daycares.
Stay focused, take heart in knowing you are working toward a better way of being with children!
As you fall into September:), set a few goals for yourself and see where you land!









Make you own music and buckle up and enjoy the ride!

Friday, August 3, 2018

The Outdoor Classroom


The Outdoor Classroom

There is much to be considered when we look at the possibilities of what can happen when the classroom is brought outside and loose parts are provided.
Beyond the traditional structures that limit children to climbing and sliding, loose parts can spur children to new levels of thinking and engaging.
Instead of accepting what is being offered by stagnant structures, children are prompted to create their own structures, contraptions, and expressions of creativity.
Given the span of a child’s imagination the possibilities are endless.
The teacher’s role is to facilitate and lend support when materials are offered.
Preparing provocations is always a good idea.
The outdoor classroom is directly linked to continued experiences and projects that take place indoors.

In the hands of young children,
a set of tubes become a vehicle, tree cookies transform into a train, while another child uses them to make her family.

Combined materials transform into school buses, cars and lemonade stands.

Children discourse, argue design, negotiate possibilities and support one another.












Sunday, July 29, 2018

Leave Behind the Best Part of Yourself




I’m often conflicted about finding the best way to “train” teachers or at best to inspire them. I use the word train loosely because after all can someone be trained to think in a Reggio inspired mindset?
 When teachers are surrounded by rich environments full of loose parts, endless art supplies, STEM materials, ramping equipment and past work for reflection, yet still find nothing to do, then I concede that the cause is lost!
At the end of the day, inspiration, motivation and a desire to leave your students and school the best part of yourself has to be intrinsic. No one can inspire an unmotivated person, no matter how much they are prodded or pushed. This is not a teacher skill but a life skill; to push to new levels, to maximise talents and dispositons, to want to be the best version of who you can be.
The teachers who master this are the ones that are remembered by their students long after the facts fade: the teachers who make everyday worthwhile, who are as much learners as they are educators.