Back in the mid 90’s shortly after I completed my Master’s degree in PreK – 8 Elementary Education at Fordham University, I learned about the Reggio Emilia Approach in a brochure from Bank Street College in New York.
It sounded a bit like Montessori but had some differences. They called it the 100 Languages of children. I was so intrigued by this idea of 100 languages and wondered what this could mean.
Without delay, I registered for a long weekend institute at Bank Street. There were no more than twelve educators, and we were all so curious to learn more. By the end of the weekend we built four gorgeous carousels made of all sorts of materials. No two looked alike. We had exemplars, ideas, tools and curiosity. We worked together and shared ideas, posed questions and worked through the challenges with determination and mental effort.
Were we demonstrating grit? Our teacher documented our conversations through anecdotal note-taking, audio recordings and polaroid photographs. Don’t forget its 1997, no iPhone with built-in cameras and video capabilities. It was one of my favorite learning opportunities ever. I recall going to the Bank Street Bookstore and purchasing the 100 Languages of Children- A Reggio Emilia Approach soft covered book. The book was written in Italian. Luckily, I am fluent in Italian and understood what was penned in between the pages of photos of children working, playing, co-constructing and teachers documenting learning, expressive language and creations of their students’ work.
From that weekend, I pursued visiting schools in Westchester, New York, and Connecticut. Back then if there were a handful of schools in the US that utilized this method, that was enough. I remember visiting an ambassador’s school in Washington, DC and a school in New Rochelle that had the same concepts, layout and framework as the schools in Italy. I respected this work and knew that someday this work would present itself to me again.
Well, the time has come. Much attention has been devoted to Pre-K and K programs over the past few years, and Reggio Emilia has grown incredibly across our 50 states since the mid 90’s.
With a focus on project-based learning, Visible Learning (the work of John Hattie), a constructivist approach, scaffolding, documentation and expressive language, I have embarked on an intensive US Study to where it all began- Reggio Emilia.
Follow me over from March 30- April 6th, when I engage with teachers, altelieristas, students, and other like-minded people who honor and understand that these early years of school are about tapping into our children’s curiosity, wonderment and allowing them to explore, discover and co-create with their peers and themselves.
I will be blogging everyday and sending pictures and videos of my visible learning. My goals and aspirations are to promote Reggio-inspired approaches to teachers and students in all of our schools.
Ciao and ci sentiamo!