2003 Annual Meeting

Annual Meeting Roundtable Discussions

An Opportunity to Reflect and Respond

NAREA is an organization that began with an idea. This idea that forms the foundation of NAREA is that individuals and groups of individuals throughout North America, inspired by the schools for young children in Reggio Emilia, desire and deserve to form connections and to communicate with other individuals and groups of individuals studying the schools in Reggio.

The fundamental issues that form the experience of the schools in Reggio Emilia cannot be imitated as they belong to the culture of the city in which they reside. However, we think that the philosophy and pedagogy that is part of the daily lives in these schools can provide a basis for understanding what is possible in other contexts.

The understand that emanates from the study of the Reggio Emilia Approach to Early Childhood Education can evolve through reflection and dialogue around shared experiences. In the spring of 2003, a survey of members included the following question:

We are planning NAREA’s first annual meeting during the NAEYC conference in Chicago in November 2003. What ideas do you have for the format and content of this meeting to ensure the meeting is a significant and relevant experience for you?

In response to this question, many members suggested work in small groups that would be shared with the larger group. The annual Meeting of NAREA members held in Chicago on November 7 provided an opportunity for members to engage in regional roundtable discussions facilitated by members of the NAREA board.

Discussions revolved around 3 questions:

  1. What were your first encounters with the Reggio Approach?
  2. How has your thinking evolved?
  3. How do you envision the future of your work as an individual and as a member of NAREA?

Notes from member roundtable conversations that follow can serve as a point of initiation for ongoing reflection and response amoung our entire membership. Please take some time to read through the categorized notes, reflect on the thoughts articulated thus far by our membership, and respond to the three questions as they relate to your experiences.

Email responses to reflect@reggioalliance.org and watch the Members-Only section of the website for an update of our collective responses compiled over the next month. Your ideas will be incorporated into the March 18-20, 2004 NAREA board meeting an future organizational work. Thank you for your ongoing participation.

Responses from the NAREA Annual Meeting, November 7

  1. What were your first encounters with the Reggio Approach?Members articulated several ways they first encountered the Reggio Approach including:
    • viewing the CNN tape
    • 100 Languages of Children Exhibit
    • university/college coursework
    • Young Children journal articles
    • NAEYC Annual conference sessions
    • visits to schools in Reggio Emilia and throughout the United States
  2. How has your thinking evolved? “To teach” has transformed into “to learn”:
    • my thinking hasn’t changed as much as my actions and behaviors
    • always thinking: why, why, why?
    • it has completely remapped my brain and my life; it’s changed the way we live
    • every time I think I know something, I find out more than I don’t know
    • deeper and more complex, like a spiral, scaffold, reinventing, reconstructing, not copying, not transferring
    • be humble
  3. How do you envision the future of your work as an individual and as a member of NAREA?

    Networking

    • being able to network and share with people where we are at and what we are doing
    • membership directory
    • help members figure out where things are in terms of programs, conferences, and experiences in similar contexts
    • hope that people will be put in touch with each other, make connections
    • networking amoung teachers; platform for teachers to share their work
    • smaller focus groups within the organization around particular interests; pedagogy, studio/materials, teacher education/academia
    • build relationships: materials, community, families, children
    • NAREA lounge at NAEYC for networking
    • mentoring, buddy systems, local chapters
    • looking forward to more opportunities to share experiences, see other schools and to talk of successes and struggles
    • find ways to reflect our own cultures

    Increasing participation, professional development and teacher education

    • make workshops and school visits affordable; consider scholarships
    • consider a NAREA-sponsored two-day Reggio track at NAEYC versus embedding Reggio sessions in the large NAEYC converence
    • a conference hosted by NAREA, with participants bringing work to share and to dialogue with each other would be brilliant! It could change locations every year and be very meaningful
    • strategies to make NAREA more accessible to all
    • clarify what the board does; what membership in NAREA offers, how funds are utilized
    • board decisions could be collaborative based on input from all members
    • committee work
    • provide a list of universities and colleges that teach teachers in this way
    • volunteer opportunities for students such as envelope stuffing

    Advocacy and connections outside of the field

    • members can promote NAREA
    • speak with people who are making policy
    • public school context
    • clearly articulate the fundamentals of the approach so that it is understandable to many; articulate the role of the teacher in early learning
    • NAREA needs to support research-based best practices for young children and promote this to the colleges, universities, administrators and the public
    • parents being excited and sharing with other parents, parents as advocates
    • work to form connections with museums, arts, politicians
    • articulate what children are learning as they’re engaged in investigations

    Web-based possibilites

    • show teacher-child interaction on the web
    • membership directory
    • directory of schools offering professional development
    • job postings
    • a way to share work
    • consultants and guest speakers
    • “letters to editor” to reflect on Innovations articles
    • online dialogues about articles
    • email/web dialogues for sharing practices, research questions, and for offering/getting support
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