Earlier this week, I read a fantastic blog post by a fellow Kindergarten teacher, Anamaria Ralph. In her post, she discusses the flow of the day, with some very detailed explanations behind the different components. Anamaria references a resource, Working In The Reggio Way, that asks important questions to help with determining the daily routine.
I decided to make Wurm’s book my first professional read of the summer, and I’m so glad that I did. This book has made me do a lot of thinking and develop many talking points to explore with my partner before September.
When I look back over the notes that I made and the questions that I asked, one important word came to mind: observation. Before worrying about what we say or do, we need to sit back, watch, and listen. I used to think that I did both, but now I’m not so sure.
- I watched students, but did I already assume how they would behave, and were my opinions clouded by my assumptions?
- I listened to students, but did I only listen with a single expectation in mind? Did I listen closely to everything else that they shared — or didn’t share — and did I use this information to think ahead for programming options?
My first a-ha moment came when the author discussed the use of a bathroom as a learning space. She mentioned ideas that I had never really thought about before, but made so much sense. The classroom teachers in this Reggio environment even developed their own professional inquiry based on the use of this bathroom space. Amazing! How did they get to this point? They watched and listened to students. They saw the social interaction that happens in a washroom, and they decided to re-think the possible use of this space. (Now our classroom bathroom is just one small room with a toilet and a sink, so what these teachers did may not work for us, but I still can’t help but wonder what may.) The quality observation that happened in this case, and in so many other cases in the book, made me think about the time needed to observe.
I am left wondering …
- How much time is spent watching children versus how much time is spent talking and working with children?
- How many children were in these classrooms? Do numbers play a role in how we observe and what we observe?
- With a large number of students that have English as their second language, how can we scaffold the language for them and still spend the quality time watching their interactions?
- When do we act on our observations? Wurm’s book discusses the importance of “wait time” and wait time that is much longer than what we may be accustomed to (stretching on for even days, weeks, or months at a time). With this wait time in mind, how do we know when to act and when to just continue observing?
Wurm really emphasizes the importance of small changes. She thinks it’s valuable to make one or two changes, observe what happens, and make other changes based on these observations. This will be hard for me. I’m comfortable with change, and I tend to make changes regularly and quickly. I’m going to need to slow down. But how slow do we go? In a school and Board environment where “meeting benchmarks” is important, how do we take the time needed to make positive changes, while still helping our students get to where they need (or maybe it’s where we want them) to be? I think that this summer read will lead to many interesting conversations in the coming months. I’d love to hear more about your thoughts and experiences as I continue to consider the Reggio way.