Do you still read blogs? An update + relaunch!

 



Well, it has certainly been a minute 

[insert embarrassed looking emoji]!


I have been meaning to reignite this blog for quite some time now with a splash of my research, new learning, lesson ideas, and overall thoughts on the topic of creativity in early childhood education!  


Do you still read blogs?


This is not an excuse, but the truth is, during the years of the pandemic I had been consulting virtually after full days teaching/leading staff at my studio and felt mentally drained.  Once I finished an online workshop or zoom meeting, I remember spending hours sorting through parent emails and reconfiguring the program schedule that had been interrupted with several lockdowns at TransformEd P.S. Inc.  Not to mention the countless safety measures and protocols we had to put into place and adapt to as a team, to ensure the wellbeing of our students and families.


This left me with little desire to be in front of a screen, unless it was absolutely necessary...





However, I continue to pray that that very difficult period of our lives is behind us... And it is so wonderful to finally be able to learn in person again and to collaborate in ways I guess I (perhaps we) had taken for granted!


I am excited to share my suggestions, writing, and documentation on the blog again with you.  It will need some modernization, as the template that I had had designed, dates back a few years now and is not as visually attractive as I'd like.   


Baby steps...






I feel as though I should give a little update on where I am at, and what I have been up to...  Especially since I have been multi-tasking quite a lot and juggling many different projects and learning adventures! 


I am recognizing this need to connect again with other educators and feel that the relaunch of my blog space could be a start in the right direction! 











1. TransformEd P.S. Inc. - TransformEd Creative Studio:
@transformedpsinc

As you know from my last post in Spring of 2022, we sold the Kleinburg home where I had been operating the TransformEd Creative Studio and Learning Centre.  This doesn't mean we have been closed, but rather are exploring some temporary options while we wait for our more permanent location and plaza spot to be built.  I did ultimately want to transition the business once it was ready and renovated, unfortunately the real estate market had other plans for us!!!






For the time being we have been operating as a fully mobile studio and travelling to schools, childcare centres, golf courses, event spaces, and hosting private children's programs or parties. 


In Fall of this year, I will be offering some workshop style classes in my new home studio.  It is just 5 minutes north from our former location with a lot more outdoor land for nature explorations! 

I am currently designing the indoor classroom for my own kids and have ample room for an outdoor classroom, as well.  We have decided to share this creative space with our community!


Having a weekly schedule of classes, will allow families flexibility to choose what works with their own calendar of events, while not having  a long term commitment. 


This will also allow me time to focus on my Phd research study and to continue to balance facilitating educator training at Lakehead University, York University and other colleges, schools, boards, or early childhood networks and conferences.









2. PhD in Early Childhood Education:

Now that my children are in full-time school, I have had more time to devote to myself and my studies.  Shortly after my daughter was born, I had placed my PhD research on hold.  This was an especially needed decision with the Covid lockdowns, which meant that we were all home together, making it difficult to focus.


I am still strongly inspired by the work that is happening in Reggio Emilia, Italy.  I travelled there for my 5th course in June of 2022.  My topic has shifted, however, to alternative education and approaches for educating young children.  I wonder why educators and families are leaving the publicly funded school systems and exploring options such as homeschooling, learning pods, private schools, etc.


My studio happens to be an alternative space for learning.  It's a place where I really feel like I thrive and belong as an educator, parent and individual.  I will be examining what these other alternative programs look like, how they teach children, their daily rhythm, and overall belief system.


I am sincerely curious and fascinated by my topic, which I know will help me get through the necessary steps to complete my dissertation.  Currently, I have written the first draft of my proposal and I am editing it before it gets sent to my professor for further revisions.


Fingers crossed, I will have my ethics approvals to begin the data collection in Spring 2024!






3. TransformEd Consulting Services Educator Training:

@transformedconsultingservices and @makemestudio

I am so thankful to have more time for my consulting this year! I feel as though it is a wonderful balance between my working with children/families in the studio, and inspiring others who work with them. 


I also appreciate the experiences that I have gained over the years from my Kindergarten classroom and believe that they have truly influenced my abilities to facilitate staff/educator training/learning.


For instance, I have 10+ years to draw from working in the public school board, 12+ years presenting to educators, and 8+ years operating my own studio space and preschool.  This has taught me what is required to design a school, renovate, hire, train and maintain an effective team, communication with parents, health/safety, etc.


But most importantly, I love to share my journey with others and help to inspire their thinking about Early Childhood Education!  My road here has not always been perfect (or easy), but the photographs document our transformation in practice and allow us to reflect on the future.  And there are so many possibilities to explore!

I was recently hired by Lakehead University to teach and facilitate Teacher Candidates (those learning to become educators) about the topic of Kindergarten!  I have 120 TC's in my classes this semester and have really enjoyed sharing all my understandings about the early years with real examples from my own time teaching Kindergarten in the classroom.  Please follow my Instagram to see video reels inside our learning experiences and as our weekly lectures unfold! 









In addition to this incredible opportunity, I was also hired by York University as a consultant to train over 270 Kindergarten teachers from China on the topic of Inquiry-Based Learning.  Our workshops were held fully online using the Zoom platform, and were very rich in discussion!  Even though we had a hands-on portion through our screens, it is always a more meaningful experience of course if I could be in the same room to facilitate the participants!  Fingers crossed we will have some face-to-face opportunities together soon!



Articles written about my virtual training:



Just wanted to say thank you @yorkueducation @yorkualumni @yorkufgs for my strong foundation in Education and the honour of having my work shared across their websites. 


Special thanks to Dr. Elena Caprioni, Program Director of the Asian Business and Management Program at York University for hiring and entrusting me with this opportunity.  I look forward to returning to Asia for in person training someday soon!!! 
















Looking for professional learning 

opportunities for your staff team?




Join the relaunch of my #CTInquiry network:


Coming Soon to @transformedconsultingservices!

Consider joining my creative network of outside the box Educators and Thinkers!  CTI stands for Connected Through Inquiry: A Curious Community of Learners.  In the past we used to meet once a month or seasonally to discuss professional resources (articles or book study), our inquiry projects (documentation study), and visited a classroom to experience their setups and proposals.  

I would like to suggest something similar, but this time would really like to emphasize having time set aside for the group to explore materials as children would in the atelier (art studio).

More details to follow in another blog post... 

If you feel that you are a like minded educator and my ideas over the years have aligned or resonated with you, please stay tuned!





Here are some options to consider for my consulting services:


1) In person - 1 hour workshop - Mix of Theory and one hands-on learning experience per table

2) In person - 2 hour workshop - Mix of Theory and Full mobile studio hands-on experience to promote project work (inquiry learning) and documentation

3) Online - 1 or 2 hour virtual workshops - Mix of Theory and one hands-on learning opportunity

4) In person - Make me a studio (*see below) - This is a chance to design/create a Reggio Emilia inspired atelier (studio) in your school or a classroom to promote project work in your program/centre (can also be a workshop)

5) Online or In-person-Curriculum writing and project planning - We can create your desired curriculum based on school’s belief system or I can support your existing inquiry project work and help move planning forward with/for the team using documentation collected

6) In person- Photography of School Learning and Marketing - Communicating the learning and documentation to parents to show program excellence (professional photo posts and edited video reels) *I can either do this documentation for your school or train one of your leaders/educators to do it for your team



I suggest the following popular workshops:


*please note we also have the option of designing one just for your staff on a topic of your choosing


1) Considerations for Providing a Quality Early Childhood Education Program:

With a focus on Inquiry Learning and Creative Planning for Schools and Childcare Settings


2) The Atelier: Creating a Studio in your School or Classroom and Laying the Foundation for Project W
3) Embracing Creativity in the Classroom: A hands-on Team Building Experience using Open-Ended Materials to Re-Inspire your Teaching Practice!


4) A Practical Lens on Documentation: How to Communicate Learning with Photographs and Videos of your Classroom Projects for Families and to Share on Social Media




All of our workshops can be 1 or 2 hours in length -- face-to-face or virtually.

The longer workshops are a full studio experience with creative materials. 










*New* Service: Make Me a Studio  

@makemeastudio

I would love to help you create an inspiring Atelier Space (Studio) in your school, childcare centre, or classroom!

  • Step 1 - Planning Phase: Conversations and visits to your existing space
  • Step 2 - Organizing Phase: the Space using Furniture and Materials you already have
  • Step 3 - Ordering Phase: any additional resources
  • Step 4 - Transforming Phase: Finalizing your creative learning space and revealing it to the children 








4. Artsy Party Supplies:

@artsypartysupplies

Our supplies over the years for the studio, my own teaching, and workshops are all from @artsypartysupplies.  My students/children and I have thoroughly enjoyed experimenting with the best quality materials from around the world.  


I have a team from my studio that assembles creative learning baskets for schools and homes.  They make for a wonderful gift and we do all of the thinking, planning, and shopping, so that the individual receiving it just has to put it out onto a table for children to explore! 


SERVICES AVAILABLE:

  • lootbags
  • educator gifts
  • classroom/school gifts
  • birthday baskets 
  • craft crates or carts
  • artist kits
  • inquiry kits
  • science experiments
  • sensory play
  • creative presents 
  • party stations 
  • custom canvases 
  • seasonal gifts
  • personalization 


Everything is developmentally appropriate and made by an experienced educator, who knows the safety needs and interests of children by age!







5. Photography by Joanne Babalis

@byjoannebabalis:

I have used my skills gained from documenting children's learning with photography and video to support others looking for marketing solutions or lasting family images to treasure for years to come!


PHOTOSHOOTS AVAILABLE:

  • family portraits
  • birthdays
  • holidays
  • products
  • services
  • headshots
  • branding for a business 
  • educator retirement 
  • classroom/school spaces
  • real-estate
  • construction 
  • interiors

Are you feeling extra proud of your classroom or school this year? Do you want to document how your space looks as part of your portfolio?

I would love to capture it for you! :)





If you got this far -- 


Thank you for being here!


In closing, I am not quite sure if educators, parents, and fellow artists even read blogs anymore....  Seems our attention span has decreased since Instagram reels and TikTok took over.


I am seriously considering recording my thoughts with video explanations or episodes, as well as potentially a podcast.  If you have any experience in recording a podcast to Spotify or Apple Music, please send me some suggestions!!!


I will be sharing MUCH shorter blog posts from now on with practical ideas, but don't forget to follow my initial account @joannebabalis on Instagram and @transformedpsinc on TikTok.  And for those interested in cooking, which is one of my hobbies I also share my favourite recipes with @joannebabalis on TikTok as well.


I hope that the blog can still be a space to share more comprehensive thoughts about Education.  And I guess if for nothing more, this can become a place for my own self-reflection and a time capsule of my personal journey.






The feelings belong to the children:

curiosity,

wonder,

enthusiasm 

for the unknown.


The courage necessary 

for this journey 

lies in the courage to choose, 

to make mistakes, 

and to be uncertain.


-Carlina Rinaldi 

Staff Development in Reggio Emilia

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