Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Long Ago....

In what seems to be a long time ago, 2004, I took a trip to Italy, not to visit family, but to see the world renowned schools of Reggio Emilia. I joined an American Study Tour, Crossing Boundaries, knowing that my work as an Early Childhood Educator would be changed forever. Little did I know that the two weeks I spent immersed in this pedagogy would define me both as a woman and as a teacher.
I began my career in 1981 and have taught young children in several settings becoming a supervisor in 1989 and then eventually going on to be an owner of three schools.  I have always felt a tremendous affinity for children. For lack of words I will simply say that they are remarkable. What I came to realize and knew to some extent, as I began to study the Reggio Approach in 2000, is that we must commit as teachers to share the journey of learning and most importantly the walk of life with our students.

To that end, upon my return from my trip, a major upheaval began in the school where I was, at that time, the supervisor. 
Of course, as you can imagine, the first thing that I changed was the environment, although looking back to that time frame, I would think that the first change should have been the mindset of the teachers. Because it is there that this pedagogy must take root. The manner in which a teacher sees the world of children, education, citizenship, collaboration, and all the other components of what makes The Reggio Approach so powerful.
Almost 14 years have passed since I began this amazing journey. Many things have changed for me as an educator but most of all as a woman.
I am humbled by the small contribution that I make here in this blog and in the global community. These posts have allowed me to meet and share with educators from all over the world.
Social media has opened the doors for us all as we exchange our ideas and work. Where we once worked, for the most part in isolation, we now work in unison.
Each entry I post brings in fresh ideas and generates future work with the children.

If I could offer a teacher some advice I would say this,

Be mindful, arrest time and think and work deeply, do not make haste.
Commit to your craft. You will make a difference.
Honor your choice to be a teacher. You hold the key to a child's love for learning.
Be kind, wise, careful, and nurturing.
SHARE your work. If you isolate yourself then how will you grow and help others grow.
Be humble and know that others are doing great work as well.
Do not be daunted by people who fail to recognize your contributions. Rise above them and forge on remembering that what you do is for the children.

The greatest lesson for me in this remarkable quest is this.
You can never bring home a pedagogy such as The Reggio Approach. It belongs to the culture in which is was created. A place where piazza's are filled with hundreds of years of tradition, where people gather and share, drink coffee, and watch their children run through a flock of pigeons.
Unless you  live in Europe you don't walk to the local church and find a lion crafted from the hands of a sculpture who lived decades before our time.
What we have done, is taken the guiding principles of this approach and used them to form our own method of working with the children.
The journey has been incredible and everyday it is filled with extraordinary moments!

These are the photos from my second trip to Reggio Emilia in 2011.

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