Monday, 9 January 2017

The first session (Palestine 6)

It may have been a 3.5 hour session today... but really it was just too little time... especially when we need the time to translate.
BUT at the same time 3.5 hours is a LONG time to concentrate they way we were today. Lots of full on listening happening... and that is pretty exhausting.

I was honoured by the Director of Education, Department of Kindergartens, of Jenin, being present at my session today too. We had a meeting before hand to chat about the content of the course to ensure that it is aligning with the Jenin direction for kindergarten learning. She seemed happy with what I presented and told me about her recent visit to the city of Reggio Emilia to learn about their learning philosophy. This was like music to my ears, as this is an educational approach that sings to me... and I will be sharing some of "my" notes with the participants of the course so that they can create their own rhythm of learning.

We started of with introductions... because in learning we need to trust each other, we need to feel safe with each other...

We then shared memories of our own education... a bad one and a good one... with the intention of exploring what makes a good teacher.

it became very clear that THE TEACHER /The EDUCATOR is central to a child's learning and enjoyment at school. Most of the bad memories were connected to verbal and physical violence by the teachers, by the teachers not taking an interest in the students and not truly listening to them so that learning could happen. The classroom was seldom a safe place. Some teachers talked about been hit so they bled... of their children being afraid to write, even though they can, because they are afraid of what will happen if they get it wrong.
Being afraid of getting it wrong does not aid learning.
The stories about the good moments were centred on the teachers that cared, that was interested and that showed compassion and love. These were the subjects they enjoyed the most.
There was only one person that had nothing negative to say about their time in school. This person's education was in another country - and they talked about being empowered by the teachers to become the person she is today.

After a short coffee break (have I mentioned just how good the coffee is here... its not just the taste, with a hint of cardamom, but also the texture) we continued with a game/play/activity that I have done with my preschoolers... you can check it out here - Line dancing
This was a time to practice doing something where there is NO WRONG way to do it... the focus is about individual interpretation, of being inspired... of learning to take turns, of self regulating, of listening with eyes and not just ears...

I also did this -  a bit more extravagant... letting them know that I was inspired by the way my children had interpreted the line... this we discussed... that they had done it like adults, while I had done it like a child... some went back to retry again, having being freed from their adult way of listening to the line.

line dance... drawing the line together on the mirror... lots of ups and downs and some squiggles... no loops though!!
We then took it in turns to "dance" the line as we interpreted the line

Once we stopped laughing. listening and enjoying the process we sat down again and I went through my "Art of Listening" presentation... first of all talking about the teacher and how theory, practice and the person need to work together in a balance, and I compared these Circles with the stories they had mentioned earlier from their childhoods.
We explored why listening is important and then went onto practical ways of practising listening skills through art and play. They soon connected how listening was allowing the children to understand values and enabling their social play as well as their cognitive development.

I realise I am going to have to change the course a little bit more... some of the teachers work with much older children... so I will expand some of the activities and learning to include children up to 12 years old.


  1. Wonderful Suzanne. I always did this activity with my first year teacher trainee 18 year olds. Good memories focused around being chosen as mary or an angel in the nativity - bad memories - not being chosen or not being believed. Being accused of something unfairly. Amazing how the same things came up year after year. What a contrast with your teachers. I love the dance idea. I need to be braver!

    1. it was quite hard to listen to, the violence they had experienced at the hands of teachers... people who we need to trust and to feel safe with in order to learn.
      It makes these women so powerful, that they choose play as their path of learning, see the children.

  2. Learning in childhood is supposed to be for fun, and to learn life ..
    Few are the people who believe in the importance of play in a child's life ..
    When're visiting kindergarten scattered'll find it full of ideas but they need to re-organizing and arranging, planning, planning for how to be playing and learning how to be a way Reggio Emilia
    We learners promise to try to apply all what is appropriate for our children to grow up healthy, their thoughts, feelings and behavior

    sanabel ameen

    1. it is all we can ever do... try to be the best we can for the children we meet... try to listen to their needs... and make learning enjoyable.