On Display: A story about friends, discovering something wonderful together

Friday, September 20, 2013


How lucky am I/we to have colleagues like Laurel Fynes (@KinderFynes  this kindergarten life ) and Julie Metcalfe (@MissJules1010)who are willing to share their summer learning with me/us through this "On Display" feature?  

I met Laurel and Julie via Social Media about a year ago.  With similar interests in Early Childhood Education, Technology, Inquiry-Based Learning, and Reggio-inspired practices, we were brought together on several Face2Face occasions at workshops and conferences.  Over the summer, I asked these passionate educators to document their professional learning reflections from "The Introduction to Reggio Inspired Practice Summer Intensive," that I was unable to attend.  

They have kindly included their thoughts, photographs, and even Vine clips for your viewing!  I hope that you enjoy their professional dialogue, and learn as much as I have from it.  I look forward to sharing more of their work, and inspiring classrooms soon.

Richland Academy,
Day 2: Marble Maze Challenge




Richland Academy, 
Day 2: Marble Maze Challenge




Richland Academy, 
Day 2: Marble Maze Challenge




Richland Academy, 
Day 2: Marble Maze Challenge



A story about friends, discovering something wonderful together.

Co-written by: Laurel Fynes and Julie Metcalfe


Julie Metcalfe and I became friends in an unusual way. I was moving south into my new Mississauga school after spending my whole teaching career in Kindergarten in a school in north Brampton. I was excited to meet Julie, my new pod-partner, because I had so many hopes and dreams about working with someone who embraced the FDK ideals even though we weren’t yet an FDK school. Julie, however, was like me, trying to find a way to shorten a terribly long commute, and a month after meeting and deciding I was the luckiest teacher ever, I heard the news that she was leaving and I was to take over her class.

I was not going to let this opportunity to work together go, and as such we became co-planners through email. I had told Julie about the wonderful ETFO Kindergarten AQ instructors I had for part two, and convinced her to join me for her the part three “Specialist” AQ at the face-to-face winter course. Later she joined the “We Can See” blog as well, and her former JK students were delighted to see their teacher’s new class on our shared space.

As was described above, Laurel Fynes and I met in the Spring of 2012 when she was hired to teach at Thornwood PS in Mississauga, where I had been working for 6 years. With the news of a new teacher moving into the K Pod, I had a bit of hesitation as to who this person would be and how we would share the space. Knowing the direction our Team was moving, I knew that the person hired would follow a play-based program and I hoped that we would be able to work together without my new interest in a Reggio-inspired philosophy. Upon meeting Laurel, I knew right away that we would make a great team and that she would add a fresh new perspective to our Kindergarten Team. However, it wasn’t until Laurel came to help out with Welcome to Kindergarten that I told her I was rushing off to a job interview, which later became the school I moved to in order to be closer to home.

Laurel and I stayed in touch throughout the school year and it was such a great experience both personally and professionally. Upon leaving Thornwood, Laurel moved into my classroom, which meant she would be teaching my previous class. Through Email, letters from the students, Twitter and her Blog, it was fascinating to me see how my Butterflies (SKs) had developed and then to see how the Caterpillars (JKs) were fitting in (many of whom were younger siblings of my previous students). Having the connection to my ‘home school’, made my transition to a new place that much simpler. When the opportunity to take part in the “Reggio Inspired Practice Summer Intensive” came up, it only seemed natural for us to take it together.

Julie added twitter to her professional toolkit in February, and that was it. We were PD buddies on a journey to enrich our teaching and learning together. When we learned about the inaugural “Reggio Inspired Practice Summer Intensive” hosted by two people we both followed and admired, we knew we had to clear our schedule and make it work.

Joining the week-long intensive with a friend meant I had someone with which to reflect on each day’s learning, as I find I learn better when I organize my thoughts by discussing new ideas with others. There is something invaluable about sharing an experience so large, so intense as this week was, with someone who is equally hungry for inspiration. That said, by the end of the week I felt like I had a roomful of close friends. We played together, we talked through deep-seated fears and worked through our stumbling blocks surrounding the adoption of an emergent curriculum. We taught each other how to tweet, to vine, to document with various tools, and to share our ideas in a multitude of ways.

Unlike most courses or workshops that I’d attended, Diane and Louise set up a structure whereby there was not a formal instruction component. Rather than talking to us about the Principles of Reggio, we learned about the approach through opportunities to mess about with materials. From the very first morning, Diane and Louise set the premise for learning by giving us the opportunity to socialize and explore. It was through this that an immediate friendship occurred amongst the group. The hierarchy of teacher/student was not presented and we were on the same level to explore and ‘mess about’ with the provocations. Diane and Louise were playing and learning alongside us, questioning, wondering and testing theories, just as we do with our own students.

Each day we were presented with provocations that would foster our learning in new ways. Our first experience was going on a nature walk with the students from Acorn School whereby we collected natural objects. Laurel and I gave one of our bags to the Acorn students so that they could collect our own objects, which lead begin our collect materials together. These objects were later used to create works of art, or in our case a mandala. A key principle of the Reggio approach is to represent your thinking using the One Hundred Languages, so after creating our mandala with our found materials, we sketched our creations. Other provocations included building marble runs, experimenting with light and reflection, and ‘building down’ whereby we decorated broken umbrellas with beautiful stuff.

As alluded to before, collaboration was a huge component of this workshop, which essentially lead to the participants teaching each other. We had many opportunities to chat about technology, and even introduced some colleagues to Vine, Twitter and Pic Collage. Out of our discussion we coined the term #ReggioPLC to communicate with our online PLN. Although it has been over a month since we learned and played together, our friendships continue to grow due to the use of technology and sharing of ideas now that we’re back in our classrooms. What a wonderful summer experience that although was geared towards improving our teaching practices, became a personal life-altering experience.

Acorn School, 
Day 3: Exploring Light and Colour with the OHP



Acorn School, 
Day 3: Exploring Light and Colour with the OHP


Acorn School, 
Day 3: Exploring Light and Colour with the OHP

Acorn School, 
Day 3: Exploring Light and Colour with the OHP

Acorn School, 
Day 3: Exploring Light and Colour with the OHP

Richland Academy, 
Day 4: Building Down: Playing with Gravity
and Exploring Materials

More photographs and reflections have been thoughtfully shared through Laurel's Blog:

saving traces of a most incredible week
reflections on learning in the Reggio PLC
a sensory walk with the Reggio PLC
in the atelier: expressing ourselves in our many languages

Acorn School,
Playing with light and shadow in the yard.
Acorn School, 
Playing with light and shadow in the yard.

Acorn School, 
Playing with light and shadow in the yard.

Richland Academy,
Playing with light, reflection,
and colour in the yard.

Richland Academy,
The wonderful banging wall.
Acorn School,
Campers at play in the mud kitchen.



Richland Academy, 
Kindergarten Yard Musical Play

Richland Academy,
Day 1 in the atelier
Richland Academy, the school yard
taking a picture of the inaugural class of the
Reggio PLC!
The rest of their Vine clips can be found here!

Thank you Laurel and Julie!  Words cannot describe how grateful I am to feature your Reggio Reflections and story of learning via the blog today. Your professional dialogue, made me feel as though I was with you on this inspiring journey!  Hope to see you both again really soon.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this Joanne! Thanks Laurel and Julie for an insightful and inspiring collection of photos and videos. You truly captured the beauty of reggio inspired practice and I think the structure of the workshop (not teacher centred) speaks volumes about the presenters!

    ReplyDelete