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Reggio Emilia Training at School of the Nations with Dr. Linda Henke

Our teachers in Early Childhood engaged in a three-day training session on the Reggio Emilia educational approach from July 25–28. Reggio Emilia is the city in Italy where, at the end of World War II, the Reggio Emilia approach was developed. It has evolved over the years, becoming renowned for child-centered, holistic pedagogy. School of the Nations is not a ‘Reggio School’; however, we are adapting Reggio-inspired aspects that are harmonious with our School philosophy.

The School invited Educational Consultant, Dr. Linda Henke, to guide our exploration and implementation of this approach in our Early Childhood program.

Dr. Henke has served as the Executive Director of The Santa Fe Center for Transformational School Leadership for the past four years. She retired in 2012 as an award-winning superintendent of Maplewood Richmond Heights, a St. Louis Missouri suburban district that for years had been plagued with the same problems found in many urban environments. In the twelve years Linda led the district, it moved from being labeled one of the worst schools in Missouri and on the watch list for state takeover, to one of the most dynamic and innovative districts in Missouri.

We are in the first stages of studying methods inspired by Reggio Emilia. The founder of the Reggio approach said that:

“What children learn does not follow as an automatic result from what is taught, but rather, it is in large part due to the children’s own doing, as a consequence of their activities and our resources.”

Loris Malaguzzi - The Hundred Languages of Children

Linda Henke’s workshop introduced the following aspects, which we will continue to study this year.

Image of the Child: A review of the history, theory, and key principles of Reggio Emilia’s program for young children.

“…. Children need to know that we are their friends, that they can depend on us for the things they desire, that we can support them in the things that they have, but also in the things that they dream about, that they desire. Children have the right to imagine. We need to give them full rights of citizenship in life and in society. It’s necessary that we believe that the child is very intelligent, that the child is strong and beautiful and has very ambitious desires and requests. This is the image of the child that we need to hold. Those who have the image of the child as fragile, incomplete, weak, made of glass gain something from this belief only for themselves. We don’t need that as an image of children. Instead of always giving children protection, we need to give them the recognition of their rights and of their strengths.”

Loris Malaguzzi

The Environment as the Third Teacher: An exploration of how Reggio-inspired teachers shape their environment to support student independence, collaboration, inquiry, and expression.

Teachers reflect thoughtfully and explore their own environments to rethink how to engage and develop student learning with the environment.

Emergent Curriculum: How do teachers involve students’ questions and evolving understandings in negotiating curricula? How do we blend our curriculum with student interest?

Students’ interest and their learning pace drives emergent curriculum. This requires teachers to observe students carefully and to work with them in their process of inquiry and discovery. One of the actions teachers take is to provide what Reggio practitioners call provocations. These are elements or situations in the classroom that provoke students’ curiosity and eagerness to question and to learn. Teachers follow the framework of our curriculum, but at the same time, they allow space for students to explore and to follow their own interests and passions. The teacher continually gives students tasks to guide their learning and allows them to practice essential skills. Teachers continue to teach age-appropriate content, but with more emphasis on fostering the inquisitive aspects that bring life to students’ learning. Whether it be in large or small groups or of individual interest, learning reflects student choice as well as the benchmarks and outcomes of the curriculum.

We are not transitioning to or away from any given method. We are adding to our current teaching practices to improve pedagogy. We continue to be inspired by best practices of teaching and learning and to integrate them into our programs.

Nós, da equipe da Educação Infantil da Escola das Nações, estamos adicionando às práticas de ensino aspectos que sempre garantam mais qualidade. Continuamos inspirados por nossas melhores práticas pedagógicas e procurando enriquecê-las.

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