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#6 A Ray of Light

Yesterday, one of the educators made a comment that stuck with me. As I started my day today, I began looking at my experiences through her lens.

"There's learning that happens every day, and every day we must be ready to see it."

How does this statement affect an educator's planning for every day? How do we make the work more impactful and consistent to engage our youngest learners? These were two of the questions that I was wondering about as I participated in today's Group exercise.

Part of the first floor of the International Center houses city ateliers for study groups, school groups, and community members to experience. After a morning lecture on ‘The Culture of the Atelier,’ we had the opportunity to work with an atelierista on an existing city atelier. I chose the ‘Ray of Light’.

Immediately after entering this part of the building, I was in awe. The resources and design of materials included in the atelier were breathtaking! I found myself taking photo after photo, as I was trying to capture the beauty in each of the smaller areas.

As a large group, we walked through each area and were given a bit of history regarding the project. Soon after, we were instructed to break off into smaller groups and ‘play’ with the resources. I chose to start with an area where there was a light box containing radiometers. I have never seen a radiometer, so I was intrigued to see what it could do. There was a light, at the front of the light box, which could be moved forward and backward on a rail. There were also colored filters that could be placed in front of the light and used to alter the light as it went into the box. Inside the box were radiometers that spun, depending on what you did to the light. I kept thinking that if I was this engaged in this experience, how would students react? I smiled at the thought of some of the possible questions that they might ask.

Next, I moved to an area where light and photosensitive paper were paired together. The results were amazing! Our group was able to make some beautiful artwork. As soon as I return to work, I will be inquiring about using photosensitive paper!

The last project I chose to explore was set up with glasses half filled with water (the glasses were different sizes). I had two amazing partners join me. The two of them were familiar with the experience and were pros in no time. One colleague came prepared and pulled out two finger flashlights (the kind that can be bought at Dollarama). Talk about being prepared! The colors of the lights made it easy to see the vibrations. Today was a rainy and overcast day and I wondered if the sun was shining through the giant window beside the table of glasses, would the rays of light have added some new ideas/questions to our experience? This moment reminded me of the many lessons which often do not go as planned. As every teacher knows, one needs to have at least two plans … a plan where everything works and a plan which can immediately go into effect, when a disruption or mishap sends a class in a different direction.

It was truly an amazing experience! I am hoping that some of the photos spark your ideas of how to shine a bit of light into your program.

*Remember … Intention is key – it is not recommended to take an idea that was created by someone else, with a different context in mind, at a different time, and for different children. An experience should be planned and aligned with your children’s interests and needs. It should not be something that you improvise or throw together to see how your students react.

After lunch, we listened to Paola Strozzi, a pedagogista from Scuole e Nidi d’infanzia Istituzione del Comune di Reggio Emilia, speak on the topic of ‘thinking by design.’ It was an informative and thought-provoking lecture that addressed the differences between programming and ‘one-off’ projects. The ideas presented are important and relevant to the work that early years educators do.

I am ending tonight’s post with the same quote I began it with:

“There’s learning that happens every day, and every day we must be ready to see it.”

Teaching is a demanding profession. It is also one where teachers often do not feel appreciated enough. Teachers make a difference in a child’s life every day. Remember to make it a memorable one for everyone.

P.S. Good news…Tonight, I finally found an authentic Italian restaurant to have dinner at … bad news did not serve pizza. The ‘great pizza hunt’ continues tomorrow.

Buona Sera (Good Evening),


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