Welcome to the Innovative Teacher Project (ITP). Like the citizens of Reggio Emilia, Italy, ITP strives to create a culture of dialogue and research in Northern California that promotes the pleasure of inquiry among children and adults. The cornerstone of the Reggio philosophy is an image of the child as competent, strong, inventive and full of potential – subjects with rights instead of needs. At ITP we offer opportunities for others interested in supporting the potential in children to collaborate, formulate personal interpretations, hypotheses and ideas about teaching, learning and living.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Children's Rights in Early Childhood Education: A Conversation with Ellen Hall

Teacher Reflection
By: Petra Fraties, Cow Hollow School

Attending the ITP Roundtable hosted by Geokids on April 12 - Children's Rights in Early Childhood Education: A Conversation with Ellen Hall - was a refreshing and thought provoking experience. There was a lot I took away from Ellen Hall's talk, the discussions with our small groups, and the visit to the GeoKids site. It was wonderful listening to such concrete examples of how educators at Boulder Journey School value and respect children's rights. 

My biggest take-away from the event was thinking about children in the context of civic participation. The story from Boulder Journey School of how children worked with the city of Boulder to influence the plan for new elements in a public space that was being redesigned was thought provoking on many levels. Seeing examples of why children can, and should, be involved in what most people would assumer are "adult" conversations made me think about how I can support the children I work to be active in their communities. As participants in their communities they have the right to take part in conversations that affect them. 

The right to participation and action was also evident in the more local example of designing and building a platform space to see over the fence on the school campus. These stories got me thinking about the opportunities we have to involve children in decision making that impacts them - both in larger community events in the Presidio (where our school is located) or immediate examples from our school environment. 

Questions for my own practice
Heading into a new school year in a few weeks has me thinking about ways in which my teaching team can explore children's rights with our classes. There are some aspects of our outdoor environment that will be changing, and there are opportunities for children to be decision makers and creators in the change that is taking place. 

I wonder...
- How can we involve the children in the decision making and planning process around school changes?
- What Presidio events might the children be able to be involved in and have their voices heard?
- How can we engage the children in dialogue about their rights, and how might that look different depending on the age of the class? What definitions will they have about rights? 
- How do the parents in our community view children's rights, and what can we do to bring them into dialogue about it with us?  

Thank you to Ellen Hall, the faculty from GeoKids, and the other educators and ECE professionals who were present and inspiring! I can't wait to bring these questions into our new school year!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

ITP Roundtable Kickoff Hosted by JCCSF - 1.25.14

The kickoff for the Innovative Teacher Project Roundtable Series on Saturday, January 25th was hosted by the Early Childhood Education Department (ECE) of the JCCSF.   The focus for the  roundtables this year is on Global Citizenship and Social Justice as Values in Reggio Inspired Schools. Although the roundtable took place in the main JCCSF and the Helen Diller Family Preschool, it was a collaborative hosting by all three of our preschools (Brotherhood Way Preschool and Rosenberg Preschool). Teachers from Brotherhood Way, Diller, and Rosenberg gave presentations, engaged in dialogue and exchange, and facilitated a tour of the preschool.

 Parent volunteers facilitating registration

 Pam Schneider, JCCSF ECE Director and Heather Morado, ITP Executive Director welcoming attendees

Along with a few of my colleagues, I was a roving photographer during the presentations so was able to hear a bit of each talk. These were the topics and presenters:

 "Embracing the Rights of Children through a Multicultural Lens" - Linda Blum and Kelsey Gilberg; Diller Preschool 

"The presenters did a great job of sharing the educators lens on Children’s Rights."
"The presenters linked the expansive threads of the Native American project to the Global Bill of Rights.  The break out group offered us more time to reflect on the topic."


 "The Right to Identity: Strengthening Community and Culture through Home/School Connections" - Anica Leon-Weil and Mari Galarza; Diller Preschool
"The teachers spoke from a place of intention and thoughtfulness"

"I am a Citizen of the World: Exporlation of the Link between Social Development, Jewish Values and Self Portraits" -Erica Chiaruci, Jamie Magpoc, Mandy Rubin, Carolina Venezia, and Lauren Hastings; Brotherhood Way Preschool
"I loved the continuity from the 2 yr olds through the five year olds, involving the self-portraits."

"I really enjoyed listening to the children’s conversations and hearing their voices."

"Making Connections, Building Community: Exploring Tzedakah" -Molly Preece and Tracey Nelson; Rosenberg Center 
"It was lovely to see how the Jewish values are actively incorporated into the classroom, community can curriculum.  What a meaningful way to live the values."

Welcoming visitors into our school is always such an honor and learning experience. We are thankful that over a hundred and twenty visitors from all of the Bay Area took the time on a Saturday morning to thoughtfully engage in the presentations and dialogue, visit our classrooms, make insightful observations, and ask so many thought provoking questions. As a community, we always look forward to welcoming visitors, especially other educators to our schools. I find that I learn so much from the questions that are asked and that engaging in dialogue about our teaching practice helps us to revisit our systems, environment, and general approach. Many attendees stopped by the studio, curious to check out the space and explore how work in the studio and with other resource teachers supports the classroom curriculum. I even had the opportunity to connect with a few studio teachers from other Reggio inspired schools.

A big thank you to our parent volunteers that helped with registration and supported the teachers throughout the day, their assistance helped the event run very smoothly. Thank you also to all of the teachers that put so much time and thought into their presentations. The stories they presented with accompanying images, their openness to discuss the triumphs and challenges of their work, and enthusiasm to share their interpretation of the ITP theme for the year was truly inspiring. 
Here are a few more images and participant reflections from the day. 
"Today’s presentation gave me great ideas to introduce into my program."

"This is one of the best roundtables I have attended."

Welcoming visitors to the Bet Classroom. 

Connecting with colleagues in the Vov Classroom. 
 Mari discussing the cave exploration with a visitor.
Exploring our Intention for the Year (Documentation) and classroom research questions in the hallway. 
"Beautiful spaces and well written documentation. A really great job of making projects visible."

Studio painting easels

  Art Studio

 The lobby

Materials Library

"The center looks wonderful—beautiful, interesting, full of the children’s voices and visions.  It is clear that the educators here are dedicated, reflective and hard working."



  Gimel and the Courtyard




 Jen De Groat, Helen Diller Family Preschool Studio Teacher/Curriculum Specialist