The next part of the discussion I would like to address concerns provocations that turn to projects and the role of the teacher in a Reggio Emilia inspired early learning environment. My prior blogs revolve around provocations, challenges, and a few other things that relate to how children learn in developmentally appropriate ways. Once again I invite anyone who is involved in young children’s lives to please join the conversation and share your Reggio Emilia inspired teaching and learning journeys.
Provocations, as I ‘ve stated before, are invitations to learn, to challenge, to stretch children’s minds. Sometimes children will decide to engage in those provocations and other times he/ she may choose not to involve themselves at that time. When one or more children choose to engage in a provocation multiple layers of developmental understanding occurs. For some children, the provocation is a one time experience and they may only scratch the surface of the concepts before them. At the same time, there are children that will take that provocation and add other materials, ideas and enlist the help of classmates to further their learning. These children may create more of a challenge for themselves as they turn a provocation into a project.
I’ve stated before that projects can be for one child, two, three, a small group or the entire class. It really depends on the interest level of the children. When a provocation emerges into a project, multiple layers of learning begin to take place and what children learn depends on their developmental level, interest and how much they are willing to accept their peers’ influences. Remember that each child brings their own portfolio of knowledge with them as they enter the classroom. Children learn from children because each is a unique individual full of life experiences that enabled them to possess knowledge that is not exactly the same as each other. As a teacher my role is to support, bring more information to the table, keep their ideas fresh and remind them of what their goals are. And as I document the children’s journey through this project I am better able to assist them or challenge them along the way.
I’m reminded through the Reggio Emilia approach that my role as a teacher is not to directly tell the children what to do, but rather scaffold, to assist the children and further their understanding. I must be a constant support and not a hindrance to their learning journey through this project of theirs. It can be really hard as a teacher if you are not used to stepping back and allowing children the freedom to follow through with their own ideas. However, once you get the hang of it, stepping back enables you to be better at documenting each step of the project the children work on. Documentation allows me as a teacher to not only understand where each child is at developmentally, but it informs me of where I need to add my support and scaffold new information onto the base of knowledge that already exists. It allows me to also, find different ways to enable the children to challenge themselves and keep them on track with their plans. We must always remember that young children’s attention spans are long if they possess a strong interest in what they are engaged in. Younge children have shorter attention spans in general due to their minds still developing and the many detailed life experiences they are a part of every day. As a teacher, I can keep their ideas out in the open and help them continue with their project.
Documenting children’s learning journeys is a process that involves different mediums and a creative mind to see how to implement all the forms I want. I love taking pictures because the pictures can tell a wonderful story of how the children are learning. I also enjoy typing or writing down their words, their discussions, because the topics children talk about give me so much more insight into what they are thinking and planning and where each child is at with their development in terms of understanding the core aspects of the project that has emerged through their interest. Documenting enables me as a teacher to not only support children as learning emerges from their efforts, but it holds me accountable for the emergent curriculum that I implement based on the children’s interests and levels of development. Documentation is a form of assessment and it is a great tool to help me, the teacher learn and grow as an educator and at the same time supports each child as he/ she travels along this early learning journey.
*Tell me what types of provocations you’ve set out and whether they turned into projects too. What forms of documentation do you enjoy and which forms have you found more challenging to implement? Share this blog post and help continue this topic of discussion.
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