Google+ bakers and astronauts: 10.09

28 October 2009

Briefly, from Reggio Emilia

I apologize for my lack of writing while here in Reggio Emilia. Between long, inspirational days of conversation and school visits, and an unfortunate lack of internet at the hotel, I'm a wee bit out of touch.

I am writing quite a bit, but none of it here yet. I'm looking forward to sharing next week.

For those of you who were here in the weeks before me, I am excited about reading your thoughts on the documentation experience, and the staff experience! Being here to learn about continuity has been fascinating, even though I am not a primary school teacher.

Much more to come!

22 October 2009


I had a dream last night that I was on a tour bus in Reggio Emilia, trying to secretly take photos out the window. And I got in trouble for it.

I leave tomorrow night for Reggio Emilia, and after a cheap flight and a few trains, I'll arrive on Saturday afternoon. I'm looking forward to listening, looking, writing, watching, and eating. I'm looking forward to being inspired by people and spaces.

I got my schedule today - We visit quite a few primary schools. How will that look? What is similar between preschool and primary school in Reggio Emilia? I know of the links and commonalities between the infant/toddler centers and the preschools...but then what happens? Is there a big transition, or jump, for the children to make? Do the primary schools work on an inquiry based system?

It was my biggest hope that I could have been in Reggio Emilia this week, for the week on documentation. It didn't work out - it's a big week here on campus and my director wasn't letting anyone out - not even for professional development. So my week is about "The Experience of The Preschools and Research Contexts and Continuity With Primary School" - quite a mouthful. Our preschool program here is play and inquiry-based; but when the children walk up the stairs to Kindergarten, they are in the world of math block, literacy block, and french class. There is time for free play, and time for the children to choose, but there is something about the first year you start having "Writer's Workshop". It sounds like serious business. And "Writer's Workshop" doesn't sound like something a child would call mandatory writing time.

This is mostly babbling - if you are still reading I'm surprised. The point is, I'm looking forward to learning about something I didn't know I wanted to learn about. I focus so much on young ones, that I forget that they become older ones. They need support even further on their journey, too.

19 October 2009

Sketchbooks Continue, 6 weeks in...

I feel like I am not sharing a lot about our sketchbook journey. I should make more regular reflections here, but I find that everything I've documented has stayed in the video camera, the mp3 recorder, and my memory card. It's time to get organized, I think.

When I think of this new part of the day, the first thing that comes to mind is success. It's going incredibly well. One of the biggest benefits, I think, is the fine motor activity. Some children do not choose fine motor activities at all because they are difficult, so they don't get the chance to hone those skills. Now they are. Children who never choose to draw or paint ask to continue working in their sketchbook when it is time to move on. Children who have never taken the cap off a marker are asking for their second sketchbook.

There are obviously things to think about. Do they always need a prompt? Can I expect it to start to last longer than it is now? How can we incorporate something besides 2 dimensional artwork? How can we be using it to support our inquiry?

It really is a wonderful part of the day, and I was so happy to share the books with parents last week during learning conferences. I'm glad we're sticking with it, and it's exciting to see it evolve. It feels very natural.

14 October 2009

Indie Rock Coloring Book

I just sent this link to my my brother.

Although we don't use coloring pages in school, I can see how one might prefer this kind of coloring book to the Disney kind that is exclusively pictures of princesses in poofy dresses. Let's make room for some new subject matter!

Plus, the Yellow Bird Project is about T-shirts designed by indie rock artists, with all profits going to their chosen charity. Another good reason for a new coloring book!

Self Portraits

We did some self portraits during the first few weeks of school this year. It is interesting to see how the children see themselves and represent that, and then to see what they do when presented with a mirror. Some children do an exercise in observational drawing; others ignore the mirror.

Do you do self portaits? How?

12 October 2009

"Problem Behavior"

I have really been thinking about this "problem behavior" that is the topic of so much conversation. I posted yesterday about it, and decided to delete it. Rereading it, I have been very closed minded about the behavior, the stereotypes, and the conceptions (and misconceptions) that people seem to have.

The only important thing to note from what I deleted was that I got a phone call from a parent last Friday saying that her daughter told her that Y choked her. Neither my assistant or I saw this, so I wasn't able to determine the circumstances or anything. I had to take her word. Because Y had been aggressive towards her in the past, I emailed Y's mom and told her about the situation.

Her reaction, on Monday morning, was to say that they talked about it over the weekend. She said that Y is a "good boy", he is not aggressive, but he can be impulsive. She said he probably did it out of frustration.

I did not get into a long conversation with her - we have a parent teacher conference on Thursday and there is more time then. I felt a little frustrated when she left this morning, but I felt myself observing Y with different eyes. Why do we hear something crash to the ground and immediately look for him? Why do we hear someone cry and immediately look for him? Because if you watch him work and play, he can be very engaged, kind to his friends, and careful with his body. If he wants something, he'll grab it, yes. But isn't that behavior that we all showed at some point in our early childhood?

There was a really nice post Leaves & Branches, Trunk & Roots in response to the first post I wrote about Y, after my director came to me about bullying behaviors.

I feel like this is evolving. I feel very invested in his well being (I should, I'm his teacher), but this particular situation is really capturing my attention. For the first time in my career, I am approaching the situation from a positive perspective rather than a negative one. It's not about solving problems, I don't think. It's about celebrating the positive, understanding the child, and figuring out what works and why. It's not about time outs and scolding and making him apologize.

09 October 2009

What a week! I have quite a small class this year, but they are definitely keeping me busy. I'm also getting ready for Reggio (2 weeks!) and spend time with my husband, and sleep.

There is a lot to do, but everything is wonderful. I basically listed all of the things I love to do -- so I guess I'm pretty lucky that my busy days are filled with wonderful busy things.

I haven't exactly been content heavy this week - next week looks more promising! But I would like to leave you with a sound experiment that O enaged himself with in the forest on Monday. If you speak Finnish, you may be able to enlighten me a bit!

Bon weekend à tout le monde!

07 October 2009

How does writing look right now?

Right now, we are getting comfortable enough to encourage mark-making and writing to send a message. As three-year-olds, the priority is making sure no one touches your things when you go off to do something else.

That is a big big part of our writing throughout the year - hourly, daily, and weekly. Signs, notes, postings.

02 October 2009

Turtlewings Common

Just a quick note today to mention what I got to do last night -- I spent my evening talking with some wonderful people in the Turtlewings Atelier here in Brussels.

They will be holding a monthly evening called "Turtlewings Common", and it is a time for talk, ideas, projects -- anything that the group wants, really. Besides early childhood professionals, there was also a woman from the European Commission there, and a woman who works as a retail consultant. Such interesting perspectives! As the months go along, it will be wonderful to meet more and more people who are interested in collaborating, especially people from different backgrounds.

If you're in Brussels, you should be there, too!

01 October 2009

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