We are so pleased to highlight another wonderful educator in our Reggio community! This month we are featuring Cheryl Briggs from St. John's-Ravenscourt School.
I am currently a Kindergarten teacher with over 23 years of teaching experience. The majority of my teaching has taken place in independent schools. I have tried several different early years grades; including a development of a nursery program, a Junior Kindergarten/Senior Kindergarten split grade and Kindergarten through Grade 2.
With all my years of experience I continue to return to Kindergarten as this is my passion. I love the age of the students and their eagerness to learn along with their questions and reasoning. They are like little sponges soaking up as much knowledge and learning that they can!
How and when did I become interested in RE?
It was about 7 years ago when our Junior School began our journey with the Reggio Inspired philosophies and exploration into how well it would fit our Junior School. After being introduced to the newer thinking it was like a lightbulb went off as I realized that this fit perfectly with my own beliefs and how I hoped to plan and implement programming and the environment for my students.
I felt comfortable implementing many of the practises and the environment as the third teacher. It just felt right!
What are my favourite aspects of the philosophy?
I have so many but just a few of the most significant aspects for me are:
· -Children are innately curious and Reggio lends itself to allowing this to happen in the classroom
· -The philosophy values the child as capable and with interests that can lead and drive many wonderful inquiries
· -Communication and group work are other ways to discover things, asking those “thicker” questions. I value the collaborative process.
· -Teachers are the facilitators of the childrens’ learning. They provide the opportunities for exploration and learning alongside the student
· -The environment allows the children to explore, learn and discover
· -Documentation of their learning is a valuable tool for both the student and the teacher. The children are able to reflect on their own learning and there is evidence of this learning for the teacher as well
· -The documentation also allows the students to demonstrate their learning in many different ways. “The Hundred Languages of Children”
What books/resources would I recommend?
What do I find challenging?
I suppose the most challenging component would be that we of course still have a curriculum for a province which drives much of programming and being able to develop a program that incorporates the best of the Reggio approach with the curriculum to provide a valuable educational experience for all students.
How has my teaching changed since I began learning about RE?
I have felt much better with some gentle guidance letting the children being involved in their own learning and trust that they can certainly be a part of this. I have let their questions and inquiry lead us down some interesting roads to some deeper thinking and understanding of concepts and ideas. My classroom reflects the shift to it being their place of learning and understanding with me learning alongside them. It is a wonderful and rewarding way to teach and learn. I have been able to have the students document more of their own learning in various ways which is so valuable for the students and myself.
In May 2015, I had the privilege, along with other educators from Winnipeg, to join a Canadian Study Group through the Ontario Reggio Association to visit the Loris Malaguzzi Centre and some schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy. This was truly the best professional development I have experienced in all my years of teaching. I learned so much from the educators at the schools, as well as many of the teachers from across Canada that were present from the study group. I came home even further inspired to have my classroom be a place where the students are a part of their own learning!