Storyteller, November 2011
Daniela Lanzi, pedagogista at Ernesto Balducci Preschool, on professional development:
“The process asks you to get involved as teachers and to learn together with children and families. Professional development starts in our daily life with the children. Work with families is also professional development—as is work with colleagues and with documentation.”
“The pedagogista is ‘in relationship’ with all members of the school network, continually nurturing their professional development with a greater vision in mind.”
- Elena, pedagogista at Bellelli Infant Toddler Center, Reggio Emilia
Dear Families and Friends,
Atelierista, Valeria Vacchi, and I had an exciting and inspiring week of study in Reggio Emilia—October 15-22. We so appreciated the opportunity to attend presentations given by the Italian educators, to meet other North American teachers on the tour, visit some of the beautiful preschools and infant toddler centers, and spend time in the lovely historic city of Reggio Emilia.
During some of our visits to the RE schools, we were joined by a study group from Sweden. One of the highlights of our trip was meeting Gunilla Dahlberg, the leader of the Swedish study group. She is an internationally recognized scholar on the definition of quality in early childhood education and began her relationship with the educators in Reggio Emilia many years ago. It was a privilege to speak with her and share part of our study tour with her and the Swedish graduate students.
Daniela Lanzi, quoted above, played a significant leadership role in this first Learning Tour to take place in RE during the 2011-2012 school year. Daniela has worked as a pedagogista in the Reggio Emilia municipal school system for the past fifteen years—and she was an interesting, passionate and inspiring speaker. She and Elena, from Bellelli Nido, are part of a twelve member pedagogical team, working with about four schools each—two preschools and two infant toddler centers. This organizational strategy allows them to work with children ages infant through six years old.
The pedagogista looks with the teachers and the atelierista at documentation in order to help make choices about what observations to develop and how to construct research projects with the children, including the selection of materials and the shaping of research questions. She collaborates with teachers and the atelierista in the creation of documentation. The pedagogista’s role includes coordinating family involvement at the schools and it is her job to interpret professional development projects envisioned at the network level at each of her schools. (This means that she guides the creation of declarations of intent at the school and classroom level.) The pedagogista is also the person who interfaces with health and social service agencies for her schools.
She is not, however, in the public preschool system in Reggio Emilia, an administrator who is in charge of the finances of the school. While she may be responsible for the ordering of materials and equipment, she is not responsible for the school budget. The municipal school system has a central office for financial matters and for human resources.
In my own role in our PPS context, I am involved in both the pedagogical and administrative aspects of our school life. As a private, independent, nonprofit organization, there is no central office taking care of budget, payroll, health insurance, etc. –I am fortunate to work with a supportive Board of Trustees and I am very grateful to have Karen’s partnership in the administrative responsibilities at our site so that I can participate in the pedagogical elements that are such an important part of our work—and the part of my work that I most enjoy.
One of my personal learning goals for the trip was to understand more about the role of the pedagogista and with this intention in mind, I listened and asked questions related to this topic. The definition of the role became clearer to me throughout the week and I realized that my own interpretation of the pedagogical role is fairly similar to that of the Italian pedagogista. –And, much of what I learned during the week in RE about many aspects of our educational approach will help me do a better job of supporting the work of children and teachers at Palisades Preschool.
I was especially interested in the Italian educators’ definition of professional development. We have already demonstrated our sensitivity to this type of interpretation by renaming our “staff meetings” as “professional development meetings.” Nevertheless, as Daniela described last week at one of our first encounters, many of our endeavors at PPS can be considered as part of our professional development. We are always learning.
As a result of our trip to RE, Valeria and I developed the following list of possibilities for further exploration at PPS:
- An expanded and renewed image of the child within the context of teaching and learning
- Roles of the adult (“a wave calling another wave” –”a conductor, film director”)
- What does it mean to be a co-researcher?—specific strategies for our context
- Progettazione—review this definition/interpretation
- Re-shaping our documentation– the continuum of styles and formats—also video
- Professional development opportunities at team meetings—strategies and expectations
- Re-shaping our environments (the hallway and yard entryway as piazzas)
- The mini-atelier
- Children’s drawing
- Composizione and microlandscapes
- The role of the atelierista—collaborator (support person, but also Guide)
- How can children’s involvement in set-up support their participation in clean-up?
- How can learning and outside experts in a variety of fields enhance our work? –the role of parents within this initiative
- Declarations of Intent—further development
- Atelier of Sound as a new research project
- List of equipment and materials to add to our environments
- Atelier of Taste—ideas for Lunch and Friday Snack
- Making PPS and young children visible in the neighborhood
Valeria and I engaged in an amazing professional development experience in Italy and we are looking forward to sharing our learning with the rest of the community during these next weeks, months– and beyond. We have collaborated to create a slide show presentation of our experience–that we shared with our PPS colleagues on Friday of last week–to initiate dialogue.
We invite parents to join us for further discussion on Tuesday, Nov. 8 at 9:00 a.m. in the Library. We will view the slides together, share some examples of documentation we brought back with us from Reggio Emilia and answer questions. (Please RSVP to Karen if you are planning to attend. If we have more than 15 people, we will plan to meet in the Parish Hall.)
We thank all members of our learning community for your support of the ongoing professional development initiatives at our school.
Our teachers and children would like to thank the parents who volunteered to make the Halloween celebrations so special in each classroom. We appreciated your efforts to collaborate with teachers regarding food allergies, party timing and appropriateness of activities. The parties were wonderful!
Susan Stone, MFT, will join us in the Library on Wed., Nov. 2nd from 9:15 to 10:45 a.m. to offer advice on the subjects of eating and toileting. Susan has shared her expertise with our community for a number of years and we look forward to her informative, practical and sensitive suggestions.
This year’s Silent Auction is shaping up to be both a wonderful party and a successful fundraising event! Many thanks go to our Co-Chairs, Judy Tyler, Marika Spielman and Lisa Fitzgerald for their behind-the-scenes efforts on behalf of our organization. “Thank you” to the Klein Family for sponsoring the live music for the event. “Thank you” to the Rocca Family for donating the non-alcoholic beverages for the evening. Our Room Parents are organizing fantastic themed baskets representing each of our four classes–and the auction items (2 per family) are currently being submitted to Karen so that she can include them all in the Auction Program—to be distributed via email to all families in advance of the Nov. 18th Silent Auction. Have you responded to the evite? Have you made arrangements for childcare?
This year’s fundraiser will include a Live Auction!
Please plan to have all items to Karen by Thursday, Nov. 10th. Please be sure you have purchased your auction tickets by Nov. 10th as well. Thank you!!
A meeting is planned for Friday, Nov. 4th at 9:00 a.m. in the Library. Previous initiatives have included a Food Drive for the Westside Food Bank and a Toy Drive for Connections for Children. We generally begin the initiative in mid-November and continue through mid-December. We look forward to hearing any new ideas.
We will meet in early December to share ideas for the enhancement of Music at PPS.
Please look for an email message about the date and time for our meeting. Meanwhile, if you would like to make an appointment with the teachers in your child’s class to visit and share your talent, please do!
Emergency Prep. Committee
We will meet in early Jan. after our Winter Break to take stock of the items in our emergency bins. (I checked recently and am replacing a couple of items that are expiring, but the rest can wait until Jan. Thank you! -ns)
We would like to form this new committee to help research/collect/purchase materials for the children’s explorations and projects. Please see Nancy or Karen if you would like to participate. This new group will meet in January.
A Few Words about Safety
Our Crossing Guard, Jim, has asked parents and children to please wait for him to escort you as you cross the street from the parking lot to the school. Recently, there was a fatal pedestrian accident at the corner of Lincoln Blvd. and Santa Monica Blvd. and Jim feels strongly that he should accompany all families into the intersection in front of our school. Thank you.
Also, we are noticing that children are still playing at the side of the church and in front of the house next to the school. St. Paul’s is very serious in their request that children not play in unfenced areas on the property. Thank you for your cooperation.
Please remember not to pack a lunch for your child on Tuesday, Nov. 22nd. Volunteers from each class have signed up to organize a simple lunch for each group in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday. Children will be dismissed at their regular times that day, but there will be no Stay & Play or after-school classes.
The preschool will be closed on Friday, Nov. 11th (Veteran’s Day)
PPS Educator’s Tour
On Tuesday, Nov. 29th, we will welcome a group of child development students from Pierce College to visit our environments and to meet with teachers and with Nancy. This event represents a professional development opportunity for both our visitors and our faculty. –The preschool will be open as usual.
Preschool Mission Statement
Our mission is to serve our community by offering a preschool experience for children and families that celebrates diversity, creativity and kindness. These values are embedded within a rich child-centered curriculum that provides individuals and groups with opportunities to investigate, explore and express themselves through meaningful play.
Pictures from School Events