Monday, December 2, 2013
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
“Children take joy in their work and sometimes as adults we forget that's something we should continue doing.” ― Ashley Ormon Our annual GRCDC celebrations are one way we are able as a community to take joy not only in our work, but also in the work and learning of our students. As we approach the first of many holidays on the traditional calendar, the first of which is Halloween, the staff felt it important to share with our families the rationale and meaning behind what, our celebrations at the Grand Rapids Child Discovery Center. Our primary objective in any school celebration is an opportunity to come together as a community, share experiences with our children, and above all enjoy the play and learning of one another. Many years ago, the school made an intentional decision to celebrate the seasons rather holidays to be inclusive and sensitive to our community’s diverse beliefs and needs. Celebrations include traditions of families, theories of children and teachers’ knowledge of children, and seasonal food and activity. They are organized in community between staff and families with the intent to build relationships among all participants, and deepen each member’s knowledge and understanding of the Reggio Approach. The Fall Celebration is especially connected to our current learning this year through the parallel to our Summer Provocation connecting the inside to the outside. For a few years, the school travelled to a farm west of the city for this experience. Two years ago, when we first moved to our current building, I asked the staff to think about how we could use our current site for all of our celebrations. The staff enthusiastically began discussing with children and as a staff “what Fall means”. From that collaborative experience emerged many common connections, such as food, family, storytelling, nature and friends. These five concepts will be the basis for planning relevant activities that pay tribute to the fall season.
Sunday, July 28, 2013
It was wonderful being able to experience the summer conference with our pedagogista, Sarah Cooper. More than once, we tapped each other on the elbow or shared a smile at something stated or referenced during the lectures. Feeling validation for what we do and the decisions we make is a very valuable part of these experiences. The theme of one talk gave me encouragement in our current discussion of the role of the Studio [altelier] and Studio Coordinator [atelierista] as it exists in our school. As I have stated many times, and as we discover each time we engage with members of the larger Reggio community, the Grand Rapids Child Discovery is very different from most other Reggio-inspired schools in the United States. Many educators, upon meeting us, and learning about our school are intrigued and eager to learn more about who we are and how we manage to run a successful K-5 public Reggio-inspired school. When asked this question I always respond with two words - flexibility and innovation. Our status as a stand-alone district allows us the freedom and flexibility to make changes quickly and efficiently based upon the needs of our community, and the willingness and expertise of our staff to respond creatively to challenges and unique situations are the foundational elements of our success. Listening to the perspective and philosophy of the atelier and atelierista further validated our current goal of re-defining this central aspect of the Approach and learning process of our school. What we heard at NAREA: "...The atelier is for richer and more complete knowledge....for new cultural visions....creative thinking, teamwork, and research are necessary conditions for cultural and economic development - all require CONTEXT for practice and evolution....the atelier and atelierista role grew out of this belief...that ongoing attention to RESEARCH and INNOVATION....a search for CONSTANT INNOVATION...bring the artistic background." ">>>educational philosophy ...where the aesthetic dimension and the search for beauty have been welcomed are important aspects of our species' life, and consequently into our schools and learning...the adult who constructs environment and supports children's research helps to make it more rich and interesting." We need to think in terms of SENSORY PERCEPTION and AESTHETIC VIBRATION as learning activators...."Children as protagonists of their own learning..." "The IMPERTINENT ATELIER..as guarantor of knowledge and learning...CULTURAL EXCITEMENT as generative....works and investigations that move and advance of their own processes...""...children always without timidity break down divisions between disciplines...this is analogous to brain function....children build knowledge and learn with whole body and all senses with BEAUTIFUL BIOLOGICAL UNITY....this is MYSTERIOUS, and we need to work NOT TO BETRAY."
As we learned at the NAREA conference earlier this month, the intention behind establishing the Reggio-Emilia Foundation was to insure the destiny of our children, beginning with education. The concept of the school as a "learning community", in which all members participate in work, play and co-construction of learning was something very innovative at the time the Approach was being developed and remains something rare in traditional education. Some of the other new ideas generated by Reggio-Emilia include: environment as teacher, or the notion that there must exist a dialogue between pedagogy and architecture of the learning spaces. Urban Ecosystem, that not only our rural areas need protection, but our cities in which we spend so much of our lives need to be healthy and sustainable as well.
Saturday, July 27, 2013
Dear Readers, First, my apologies for the delay in this posting. I was completely unprepared for the effects of jet lag upon returning from my trip. The 9 hour flight, combined with the six hour time change put my internal clock through quite a change. This, in addition to all of the items on my "to do list". Now that I have all of my excuses out of the way, I will move on to the the conference. First of all, I want to thank all of the faculty and staff at the Mid-Pacific Institute and the University of Hawaii. They have every right to be proud of their beautiful facility and tremendous hospitality. Their most gracious, hospitable and moving welcome and closing were memorable and moving. The NAREA staff, especially Judy Kaminsky and Margie Cooper, along with all of the altelier facilitators, insured an organized, well-planned, and very productive and valuable experience. I took many notes during the lectures and would like to include them, as I wrote them, along with images from the conference. There is no particular design, just the comments and reflections I found most salient, along with a few of my personal connections to what was presented. I hope the following provide each of you with inspiration, validation, or provocation. Please feel free to comment, question or challenge any of what you see here:
Friday, July 19, 2013
Grand Rapids Child Discovery Center Part-Time Studio Coordinator Job Description The GRCDC is seeking an individual to serve as *part-time Studio Coordinator, responsible for the following: - Collaborate and coordinate activities of Studio with classroom curriculum - Conduct classes utilizing art materials and various media to support and enrich content area learning and various student-led projects - Connect studio work to state standards - Reports to Pedagogista and School Principal [approx. 25 hours per week September through May] The desired candidate will possess the following credentials, experience, dispositions and knowledge: - The Reggio-Emilia Approach to learning - Art materials - Art techniques - Child Development - physical, social, emotional, academic - Learning process - Foundations of learning theory - Working with and managing children in educative settings - Strong written and oral communication skills - Belief that every child can succeed - Proof of successful work history - BA in Fine Arts and/or Education All those interested in applying please send resume and cover letter to email@example.com
Sunday, July 7, 2013
5/3 Junior Run - Paraeducator Kelli Belanger led a daily all-school "Running Club" to encourage wellness and an active lifestyle. The experience culminated in student, staff and parent participation in this children-only event, part of the 5/3 River Bank 25K Run held later that week.