Wednesday, 7 March 2018

The Reggio Emilia Approach... facebook group

About seven or eight years ago I became a member of the Reggio Emilia Approach facebook group - it was a small group back then... with a few active members... in fact Leigh Ann Yuen, Rachel Waxman and Naomi Yalkowsky Foster and myself were like a core group... we seemed to meet most nights online and chat about pedagogy and challenge our way of seeing learning, the children and our roles as educators... these three amazing people/educators will always have a special place in my heart.
Not all places I have worked at have been the quality that I have hoped for... and this group became my sanctuary to explore the pedagogy that I should have been exploring together with my real life colleagues (but they just weren't interested... or there was never the time)

The group has got bigger and bigger over the years... and I have had the great joy to meet and exchange ideas with more incredibly inspirational people... and I would love to write them all down here... but really this post is not about shout outs... it is about how do we create a group in the spirit of  the Reggio Emilia Approach when there are well over 33,000 people from ALL over the world?
How do you create a group that can discuss and inspire when there are so many different levels of knowledge and understanding?
How do we create a group that stays true to the spirit of the Reggio Emilia Approach when there are images posted that are more about showcasing than actual sharing reflections and knowledge... and what happens when images are shared that have nothing to do with the Reggio Emilia Approach, or practices that do not seem to tally with the approach? What responsibility do we, as a community of learners, have for those just starting out on their journey and seeing these images and seeing these strategies and are then under the belief that this is what "being Reggio" is? They are getting to learn the wrong approach!!

If you want to read a short account of what the approach is please read this post - I have many  many posts about the Reggio Emilia Approach... in many different ways... this will be my 180th post that I will put under the heading of the Reggio Emilia Approach. (The post I have linked here has further links to posts about the REA if you have the time to read more)

Finding out that there are those within the "inner circle" of the Reggio Emilia Approach that criticise groups like this for allowing non "Reggio" approach inspiration to be spread under the name of  Reggio Emilia  has saddened me but this is also understandable.
For me this approach has always been about collegial support and dialogue... of challenging ideas, but also about listening to know how to appropriately challenge - so that we grow rather than shrivel.
So for me to hear that there are those who feel the standard is not high enough, and yet do not take the time to drop by and write a comment to guide, or share something that will help others understand are therefore contributing to the fact that the group cannot truly grow. If EVERYONE with great knowledge and experience about REA shared one thing a week or even a month... or reacted to one post in the group a week - with advice, challenge and inspiration I truly believe that this would make a massive difference for everyone... and also help keep the group closer to its true intentions (group description and rules are included at the end of this post)

As educators (and others) that have enjoyed and embraced the Reggio Approach for a long time, and have gained experience and knowledge I therefore ask you to PLEASE PLEASE take the time to share your thinking... not just an activity, but the thinking, the process and how this links with your interpretation with the Reggio Emilia Approach.

If you are new to the approach, please ask questions... by answering questions we can also learn... I wrote a whole post yesterday based on the questions asked to me within the group... the questions got me thinking and rethinking, even to the point that I started to doubt what I believed in... i started to research and read and learn and then found greater clarity in how to answer, and that what I believed still held true... just now richer.
Doubt is not a bad thing if you take it as a springboard to learn and research and explore

If you are posting in the group... ask yourself first.. why am I posting this? what is the purpose... is it to share some good practice, is it to seek advice, is it because I feel proud of what I have just learned/experienced and want to share?
Then ask ... how does this help others to understand the Reggio Emilia Approach?  it might be that your question and search for advice will be useful to others as well, that the practice/activity/documentation/experience showed an interesting element of the approach... maybe how to better observe, or what you learned, or how moving a piece of furniture impacted the play etc etc etc
then ask yourself Do I have the time to spend a few minutes writing about my reflections? and Do I have the time to respond to people's questions and comments? Because if you don't, what is the purpose of sharing... be honest now?
Importantly you need to ask yourself Am I prepared for others to criticise what I have shared? Because if you are not then please wait until you feel ready. Criticism should be BOTH respectful and constructive... with the sole purpose to help others learn.

A few years ago... maybe more than a few now... there used to be the most horrible dialogues about the Reggio Emilia Approach versus Montessori in this group... where sometimes is got quite nasty... enough in fact that I had to step in and ban all talk about the Montessori method and Montessori inspired - recommending other groups that were specifically for these kinds of dialogues or just about Montessori (I provided links to those groups back then too)... I felt it was sad to need to do that... but it was taking unnecessary energy and creating a negative vibe in the group.

Then two years ago I started writing regular reminders about being respectful... as there were some members that would disrespectfully say to others that they were not being "Reggio" - and yet the "Reggio" they were sharing was not how I saw Reggio... it was more product than process - you had to have loose parts, you had to have nature, you had to have mirrors and a light table... it was about having the right things rather than having the "right" approach and the "right" view of the child.

I wrote posts in the group saying No photos without texts about the process where I got bombarded with negative comments about how a photo speaks more than words... but I was continuously seeing people misinterpret photos. I spent time reminding people to write and explain their process... I asked questions to stimulate thought... the VAST majority got ignored. I still think it is reasonable to ask that photos that are shared also require a thought process with them - this will not only benefit others in the group... but is also a great tool for you sharing to practice reflection - it can be seen as part of your work as an educator. If you do not have the time to write a few sentences then wait until you do have.

If your mother tongue is not English do not worry... ALL languages are welcome... this is not exclusively an English speaking group.. it is a group for all... to celebrate all languages - not just one... this is after all The Reggio Emilia Approach and 100 hundred languages is a pretty famous part of that... although I understand that this was not entirely what was in mind when the poem was written by Malaguzzi. ;-)
We can all help out with translating - please do not think that you can not join the dialogue because your English is not strong enough... take the time to communicate in the language you ARE strong in. The great part of it being international is that we should be seeing how the approach has evolved in all of these different places... how the culture and context has impacted... what will unite us is our view of the child, how we strive to create spaces of equality, participation and creation etc....

If you are answering or commenting then please always be respectful... listen to where the person is on their journey and how you can support them with advice, inspiration, appropriate challenge.
Never just say that is not Reggio without explaining why you think that or give examples of how it could be more "Reggio"... otherwise we are just criticising and we are not giving constructive criticism that others can build on.

Also when pressing the like or love button to a comment or answer... think that this means you are giving this statement power... if a person has ONLY given criticism and not constructive criticism, then you are also doing the same.. unless you go on to give examples or support, or ask questions to find out more... as maybe it was your misinterpretation... by asking we learn more about the process... often it is hard to share the process as a photo will look very product like...

This is not easy.
It is not easy to take critique from others. I blame schools for that with their tests and right and wrong answers. But I think that if we all strive to follow these rules then we will be able to create a fabulous group dedicated to exploring the Reggio Emilia Approach.
it is not easy to get things "wrong" to make mistakes... but this group should be a place we strive to make safe... so that mistakes are only seen as part of the learning curve.

This blogpost will become a part of the new pinned post at the top of the group. so that it is easy to find in case you need reminding of the rules or vision of the group..
 new members... and long time members should confirm that they have read this post, please do this by saying agree in the comments of the facebook group. ALL MEMBERS should do this. It is also a good way to see how active the group is.... and also to ensure that all have read the vision and the rules.
if you have any comment about how to improve the group then please write a comment in this blogpost... so that it can be easily read by those interested.

here is the information from the current pinned post...

Please, once you have joined this group take the time to read the description and the rules... so that you can like it or comment that you agree with it... as the group gets bigger and bigger, we need to have some kind of structure to ensure that this remains a group that is supportive, that we challenge each other's thinking respectfully, we enter dialogues with an open mind, willing to learn new things and to have our perspectives broadened.
A group where we share our processes... as this IS an approach that is about the process rather than the product.
All members are encouraged to do this... so even member who have been with us for MANY years, please take the time to read and agree...

PLEASE if you share images of inspiration make sure that you give credit to the owner of each photo! Many photos get shared on an individual basis... so it is important that each photo is given the right credit... not only so that we can give recognition to the intellectual property but also so that if others want to find out more about the source of inspiration we can take the time to look it up.

PLEASE also observe there are two sibling groups...
The Reggio Emilia Approach - product group share - where you can share products and find ideas about products - if sharing please write something small about why you think the product will suit the Reggio Emilia Approach. This is the perfect space to explore the third teacher.
The Reggio Emilia Approach - courses and book share where you can share book tips, and course tips both online and in real life so that others can find them...
By using the sibling groups we can keep THIS group as a place of dialogue
many thanks.
There is also a new group for jobs... if you are looking for a job or have a post you are wishing to fill... the link is in the pinned post in the group.

The guidelines/rules for the group are... (and the problem with this is that you are not given enough words to write what you want) - I have just updated the description - so here on the 22nd July 2018 I have updated this post too. Also in the about section of the group you will see 8 rules of the group - they are, hopefully, clear guidelines for the group


A platform to promote DIALOGUE between Reggio Emilia Inspired educators all over the world. ****** TO JOIN THE GROUP It will help us a great deal if your work or education experience is in your public profile. If not, please answer the questions in the joining process. Thanks! This is to keep out spammers ****** PURPOSE OF THE GROUP The main purpose of this group is as a learning platform... a place to start learning about the Reggio Emilia Approach, but also a group that will allow you to enter dialogues to help expand your understanding of the Reggio Emilia Approach. This means that when you post in this group you must be prepared to answer questions, to be in a position where you use those questions to think critically about your own post so that you can gain a better understanding of your own work as an educator (school, ECE or as a parent). This is not a group where we just pat each other on the back and say good job (although that is a good thing too) - but a group where we dig deeper to explore what lead us to these amazing decisions... so that others can learn from our experiences. This means you must be prepared to accept constructive criticism Ask questions so that we can learn from each other, but ask those questions in a respectful way, so that everyone feels that we can post. If you do happen to receive constructive criticism for something you post or a comment you make - please do not take this as a personal insult or attack... please take it as an opportunity to learn a new perspective... we do not HAVE to agree with each other, but we should all be open to each other's perspectives in this learning journey we are taking together as a group. All ideas and theories are welcome. Since we come from many different parts of the world, with our own unique context, we can support each other in our development as educators in applying this philosophy in our classrooms. Please come to this group to listen, share, learn, and challenge our own perceptions as Reggio Emilia Inspired Educators. KEYWORDS - LISTEN - REFLECT - EVOLVE GROUP RULES - Posts on thoughts and experiences on education only - Receive critique as an opportunity to learn. - Be honest, but be respectful and sensitive to others - As we say to parents: seek first to understand, then to be understood (in regards to miscommunication on posts) - No offensive language/articles/pics/no gifs! - NO quotes/images - unless posed to start a DIALOGUE Breaking these rules may result in having your post erased or being blocked from the group In the pinned post there are links to other groups for books, course, products and jobs... use THIS group for dialogue... use the other groups for those needs. THE REGGIO EMILIA APPROACH

So now you have had plenty to read about the rules, the guidelines and also the vision for this group... not just another group about pedagogy... but a group to really learn about the Reggio Emilia Approach...

here to end are a few quotes to inspire (in no specific order)... and hopefully over time... people will comment and add their reflections to this post too... so check after the quotes.

the reason why Interaction is the first word of my blog name...

1 comment:

  1. I wanted to share my thoughts about the last photo & words from Vea Vecchi. I have the opportunity and honour to consult, support & coach & work with teachers & the Junior Head of School at a large Independent School. I wanted to share a story about my first visit to the Kindergarten room. I immersed myself in the play & learning spaces as the children invited me to engage with them. After the session, I met with the K teachers and shared these words. “I want you to know that I wrote nothing down in my journal, but I have much to tell. I want to show you what I heard and observed from the children ‘s work in these beautiful photographs.” I proceeded to show the teachers the learning stories that I had captured in the photos. The experiences, the moments of learning & the images spoke to us all. Like Vecchi shares, when taking photos, one is working on documentation the learning. It is a “careful, attentive way of requires empathy...empathy with the child and the surroundings, to capture the essence of an experience in a photograph.” Each series of photographs spoke of the child, shared the experiences & the rich & powerful imagines. Reggio has inspired me to embed this form of documentation into my practice.