2012 Summer Conference

The Eighth NAREA Summer Conference

In collaboration with Reggio Children and Portland Children’s Museum

Dialogues for Quality in Education:
Giving Visibility to Creative Thinking and Collaboration in Our Schools and Communities

With “The Wonder of Learning—The Hundred Languages of Children”

June 21, 2012: Pre-Conference
June 22-24, 2012: Conference

Portland, Oregon

 


A 2012 NAREA Summer Conference participant gains inspiration from natural environment
in Washington Park during one of many ateliers focused on movement.

The NAREA Board so enjoyed meeting colleagues from North America and around the world at the 2012NAREA Summer Conference! Washington Park provided a beautiful backdrop for the conference sessions, which were located throughout the various venues – Oregon Zoo, Portland Children’s Museum and the World Forestry Center. Over the course of the week, there were more than 550 participants representing 31 states and 17 countries. NAREA was happy to award over 40 scholarships this year to both local and non-local volunteers involved in conference organization.
In addition to the plenary sessions, which we all enjoyed together at the Oregon Zoo, participants were given several optional experiences throughout the week from which to choose including the pre-conference, tours of “The Wonder of Learning – The Hundred Languages of Children” exhibit, small group discussions,ateliers focused on movement, and visits to Portland-area schools.
Day one was the NAREA Pre-Conference, “Mentoring Possibilities,” hosted by The Center for Children’s Learning of the Portland Children’s Museum. Over 300 participants sat in groups around tables where they watched videos, listened to presentations and panels, and collaborated in group provocations. Susan MacKay, Director of Education, and Judy Graves, Founder, Opal School and The Center for Children’s Learning, facilitated the pre-conference, which included contributions by several local educators as well.

Judy Graves, Founder, Opal School and The Center for Children’s Learning

For the next three days, we fell into a rhythm of listening to presentations by Vea Vecchi, Tiziana Filippini, Amelia Gambetti, Federica Parretti and Peter Byworth in the morning, then enjoying the various sessions in the afternoon. The plenary session presentations included:

  • “The Reggio Emilia Approach to Education:  Children and Their Extraordinary Potentials”
  • “Research for Innovation in Reggio Emilia:  Learning Experiences and Projects with Children, Teachers and Parents”
  • “The Wonder of Learning and the Hundred Languages of Children”
  • “The Body and Its Dance”

The following thoughtful comments capture the spirit and the richness of the morning sessions:

The presentations and speakers delightfully touched my heart and opened a world of beauty that I will always remember and cherish.

I enjoyed hearing and learning from the passions of the presenters. I continue to want more and more as I walk the journey with the children in my schools. The motto here: walk in wondering and walk out wondering! What a wonderful experience!

The values at the heart of what we are trying to live everyday in our Reggio-inspired public school rang clear, powerful and full of integrity in the presentations by Vea and Tiziana! I was awe-struck again and again by their wisdom, gusto and vigor.

It was wonderful to hear Vea speak. Her words were filled with such emotion and passion for her work. To hear her words, and watch her hands and body language as she spoke was art. It really was a joy to hear all the women from Reggio Emilia. It makes you realize what is possible.

Every presenter left me wanting more to run, not walk, back to our center. It made me want to give our children a bigger voice in what they do – to watch and learn from them, to see a way of learning through their eyes. I am so grateful that I work with children in a day when their voices are heard through their work. Thank you, Malaguzzi, for giving us a way to understand what it means to give children their voice in a profound and much needed way of learning. Thank you, Vea, Amelia, Tiziana, Federica and Peter. We will look to hearing more from you.

As is our practice, NAREA presented a free NAREA Summer Conference registration to the first person to register – this year, Alicia Karpick. We were so happy that last year’s winner, Lisa Curiel, could be with us in Portland this year! There was also a drawing of NAREA members in attendance for books and various other prizes. One of those prizes was a 30-minute Skype conversation with Amelia, won by Marley Joyce of St. John’s Episcopal Preschool in Washington, DC. Keep your eye out for an article in the August edition of theNAREA News about how she and her fellow educators made the most of this experience.

Vea Vecchi, 2012 NAREA Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient

Vea Vecchi was the winner of the 2012 NAREA Lifetime Achievement Award. During the ceremony honoring her, everyone enjoyed a 1992 video from the PBS series, “The Creative Spirit,” featuring Vea as a youngatelierista at Diana Municipal Preschool as well as Tiziana as a young pedagogista and mother. Tiziana and Amelia both shared experiences and reflections about their many years of working with Vea and the qualities that she has contributed to the educational project in Reggio Emilia. Finally, Margie Cooper and Barbara Acton, NAREA Board Co-Chairs, presented Vea with the award and gifts, followed by remarks from Vea.

 

 

Video of Tiziana Fillippini’s remarks during 2012 NAREA Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony

 

 

 

Video of Amelia Gambetti’s and Vea Vecchi’s remarks during 2012 NAREA Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony

 

 

NAREA Summer Conference attendees participate in various ateliers focused on movement.

The Pacific Northwest is known for its damp climate, so we all had our fingers crossed that the weather would allow us at least some time outside for the ateliers on the second afternoon of the conference – and it did!  Everyone headed out into the vast green space to experience movement, the focus of this year’sateliers. Following time spent outside responding to a particular provocation presented by atelier facilitators in varied sessions, participants worked with materials and media to further their understanding of their observations. During this time, one fortunate group of 70 participants joined dancers Federica Parretti and Peter Byworth for an atelier entitled, “The Body and Its Dance.”

(L) NAREA Summer Conference participants explore movement in atelier with dancers Federica Parretti and Peter Byworth. (R) NAREA Summer Conference participants share their work during another atelier on movement.

Participants reflected on the ateliers:

The experience with the ateliers was remarkable and really stretched my thinking.

I really like the movement and dance session. It made me realize that movement is a large part of teaching. The story, “The Dance of the Tree,” is so much like the things that I did as a child. I felt refreshed and connected to my childhood. I am hoping to help the children at my center to have like experience so they can express their creativity and have a sense of wonder they can pass on to other generations.
This year, each participant chose two of the following four schools to visit on Sunday afternoon: Opal School of the Portland Children’s Museum, Helen Gordon Child Development Center, Mentor Graphics Child Development Center and Clark College Child and Family Studies Program. Representatives of each school took a few minutes to introduce their school and share a bit about their educational context. School visits are always a highlight of our conferences as these comments confirm:
I would like to begin by thanking the child care centers for opening their doors and hearts to share with us. I know it took a lot of organization and planning to create such beautiful and meaningful spaces for us to be a part of. I was not merely impressed with the beauty; I fell deeply in LOVE with the tone, warmth and values of each center. I know teachers, families, and children deserve this kind of quality, so I applaud your courage in providing it!

The highlight of the conference was being able to visit Opal and the other two sites. They were all amazing, and I would have liked to spend a great deal more time in each location.
The NAREA Board and staff would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to Judy Graves and Susan MacKay of the Portland Children’s Museum, all of the members of the local hospitality committee as well as the atelier facilitators from around the country. Without their help, this professional development initiative would not have been possible. Of course, we would also like to thank all the educators of Opal School of the Portland Children’s Museum, Helen Gordon Child Development Center, Mentor Graphics Child Development Center and Clark College Child and Family Studies Program for welcoming us into their schools with open arms. Additionally, we would like to extend special thanks to our presenters, Vea Vecchi, Tiziana Filippini, Amelia Gambetti, Federica Parretti and Peter Byworth, for their inspirational and compelling contributions.

Marley Joyce (L), 2012 Winner of Skype with Amelia Gambetti,
meets with her colleagues to discuss focus of upcoming conversation.

Finally, thank you to everyone who came to Portland to take part in the 2012 NAREA Summer Conference! We appreciate your participation, dedication and feedback. It is our hope that you came away feeling inspired and energized, and we hope that you will join us for another conference in 2013. The next NAREA Winter Conference is in Tucson, AZ on January 25-25, 2013 and the next NAREA Summer Conference will coincide with the opening of “The Wonder of Learning – The Hundred Languages of Children” exhibit in Honolulu, Hawaii.

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