New Organic Approach to Professional Learning/Training as a Process - Studio Experiences Engaging in Emergent Curriculum Paired with Educational Photography



Something new 
for the New Year!


Improve your photography with children —
an important part of your daily research into learning
and gain insights about the Reggio Emilia approach from Italy.


I had a lightbulb teacher moment last week πŸ‘©‍🏫 — I feel like your mind needs to relax on vacation before the πŸ’‘ ideas πŸ’‘ really flow out of you... I love instructing the Kindergarten Course at York University to educators, as well as facilitating professional learning and training sessions to various school boards and childcare centres. There is always this magic in the air when like minded and inspired people enter the room with the same goal to better their practice. I too need these opportunities to deepen my own thinking/personal inquiry. But the trouble for me has often been that people complete my three part Additional Qualification courses or workshop series and once it’s done they still have questions and crave more... So, I decided to design my educational photography workshops as a process, rather than a one time course/session. They will run over six or twelve week intervals throughout the school year depending on your preferred length or available time to commit...








I will offer educators a full studio experience (in my space - The TransformEd Creative Studio and Learning Centre - West Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada) where we will explore new combinations of materials and languages for learning each week. Within the hour (Tuesday’s 5:30-6:30 p.m.) I will cover Reggio Emilia theory from my trips in Italy for twenty minutes in relation to emergent curriculum and pedagogical documentation. We will gain strategies for photography to try in the studio following a common learning thread to take back to your classroom/home with your children. And finally there will be time to share your own documentation and plan the relaunch of your students’ research projects. 


Forming a professional "working group" inspired by the Educators in Reggio Emilia, Italy, and engaging in an emergent curriculum experience with an emphasis on improving the photographs in our documentation process.

Six classes will cost $40/each.
Twelve classes will cost $35/each. 


This learning experience is intended for educators/parents of infants all the way to twelve year olds (Grade 6 students) who value the research process, where children are involved as active participants.  It will be available in face-to-face, blended, and fully online options.  You are welcome to register for one part in isolation, or all in a sequence depending on your interests and our availability.

The classes will begin the last week of January 2020 and will be a small private group in order for us to spend time in dialogue and even potentially making our own documentation panels with a focus on the photography and graphic design elements. Educators, parents, artists are all welcome and online options will be made available too. If you can only attend a single class (if space allows) you can choose from topics such as how to capture better photographs, how to select from the many you take, editing your images, and conveying the learning to your audience.





Below is our tentative plan - however, it will emerge with the questions, interests, and needs of the group organically:

Tuesdays from 5:30-6:30 p.m.
Winter - Spring 2020

Class 1 - January 28th - Intro. “Educational photography: Giving voice to the creative thinking and learning of every child” and forming a "working group"


Class 2 - February 4th - Being involved in an emergent curriculum process, beginning to document your studio experiences and finding our common learning thread 

Class 3 - February 11th -The Everlasting Photo: How to capture and preserve the beauty of a learning moment 
-moving beyond the point and shoot method to really focusing your lens on learning
-samples of my photo journey and what inspires my images (e.g., the learning environment, materials) 
-hands-on experience exploring photography skills with your mobile device, tablet, digital camera, etc.

Class 4 - February 18th - Applying our photography techniques to the classroom and our collaborative research project 

Class 5 - February 25th The art of selecting photographs that represent research, communicate meaning, and inspire interpretation
-learning ways to organize the numerous photos gathered
-selecting that rare photograph that becomes a piece of timeless documentation
-hands-on experience going through your own camera roll to determine which photos demonstrate deeper learning and studying the images to inform your planning 

Class 6 - March 3rd - Beginning to draft up some documentation (panel, blog post, newsletter, bulletin board, etc.).

- March Break -

Class 7 - March 24th - Editing 101: The importance of enhancing your carefully collected images to evoke emotion and reflection 
-strategies for editing using photography apps such as Lightroom and Facetune (improving the lighting, cropping out unnecessary content, straightening the photo, sharpening the details, adding presets, etc.)
-samples of before and after images in my photo library 
-hands-on experience editing your own photographs with the apps suggested 

Class 8 - March 31st - Applying new editing strategies to photographs captured in the classroom

Class 9 - April 7th - Conveying the learning process: Ways to share your photographs with students, families, and the community  
-celebrating your learning on social media, portfolios, newsletters, classroom walls, slideshows, and more
-sharing samples of my own project work 
-hands-on experience taking your images and working through new skills of graphic design

Class 10 - April 14th - Pedagogical Documentation, Studying Documentation, Planning your Relaunch  

April 21st -No class-

Class 11 - April 28th - Finalizing your graphic design process

Class 12 - May 5th - Documentation Sharing Gallery Walk, Closing thoughts




Photographed in REmida Bologna, Italy.







Photographed at Loris Malaguzzi International Centre, Reggio Emilia, Italy.









I am so thrilled to be able to offer this new organic approach to educator training that was inspired by my time in Reggio Emilia, Italy, as well as from instructing the Kindergarten AQ course for York University.  The Italian educators see one another as resources, and they gather together in similar "working groups" to research new materials (languages of learning) in an atelier atmosphere (studio space), study/discuss documentation, draw out learning threads in emergent curriculum, plan their relaunches for the children, share insights from theory, and design their panels.

If this professional learning opportunity sounds like something you, your team, or staff might be interested in, please email joannemariebabalis@gmail.com to begin planning your emergent curriculum process.  You can choose from 6 or 12 week options, and if space allows also attend single classes that interest you.  The complete details will be emailed, including payment methods.  

I am also available to bring this experience to your childcare centre, school board, or professional network.

The online sessions will run in a similar format, but at a different day/time.

I hope that you will find this helpful, as it has been something that I have been craving to support and inspire my own work with young children.

Photographed at Loris Malaguzzi International Centre, Reggio Emilia, Italy.

Did you know that photographs have the power to teach us in all educational contexts and across grades?  They truly convey the culture of our classrooms, our beliefs, as well as the depth of our students’ engagement in their own learning processes. It is without a doubt that photographs are increasingly being used to document major milestones and academic achievement, however, they are often limiting in their view of the child.  There is a growing pressure and an expectation that educators/parents take photographs to make learning visible or to prove what their child is capable of, and yet we have never been trained with how these photographs can really impact our practice or further enrich our children’s lives.

Let us move beyond the Instagrammable post, or perfectly posable shot for display, all which lack in authenticity.  Together, we can learn more about how to improve our photographs, and as a result, give voice to children who are communicating beyond verbal or paper pencil tasks.  Join me in celebrating the creative thinking and learning of Infants/Toddlers, English Languages Learners, Children with Learning Exceptionalities, those who are shy/quiet (selective mute), and ALL our students who represent their discoveries in unique ways.

Every child has something to say and a picture is worth a thousand words!  

-Joanne Marie Babalis, 2019




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