I’m reading a book called Working in the Reggio Way, about a lauded educational model from Reggio Emilia, Italy. In the introduction, author Julianne P. Wurm encourages teachers reading her book to ask questions about the classroom environment, routines, and curriculum planning. All of these aspects reflect our values and beliefs about children, teaching, learning, and society.
This idea resonates with me because this is the way I look at the broader world, too. The physical space around us, the ways we fill it, as well as the ways we act, all have meaning within a cultural system.
My ability to understand educational settings from that perspective is a huge part of why I like working for Head Start. For example, when I go into classrooms and see that materials are accessible and available to children, it’s clear to me that I’m in a space where children are considered capable of making choices and encouraged to explore different skills/modes of playing. That’s the type of space in which I want to teach.
One of the benefits of being a substitute teacher is the chance to see many other educators in practice. Head Start classes have two teachers, so I’m always with another adult. In new classrooms I make mental lists of habits and tricks I want to incorporate into my repertoire. My understanding of the values and purpose behind some of these preschool practices doesn’t come as intuitively to all adults, though. Occasionally I’ve been in classrooms where the absence of positive qualities from other locations flashes like a neon sign that only I can see.
Continue reading ‘Classroom Values: Encouraging confidence and competence’