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, April 8, 2013

Hello World!!

I am excited to launch the Innovative Teacher Project (ITP) Blog. ITP has been a platform for professional development for the past 20 years in the San Francisco Bay Area. ITP began in the early 90’s when the founder Dr. Susan Lyon and Mills College hosted “The Hundred Languages of Children” exhibit from Reggio Emilia, Italy. Last year, Dr. Lyon decided to focus on other elements of her work in education and named myself (Heather Morado) as the ITP Executive Director.

ITP’s goal has always been to offer professional development opportunities (monthly roundtables, seminars and special conferences) for educators, professors, administrators, and parents interested and inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach to early childhood education. ITP’s hope with these professional offerings is to allow time for the exchange of ideas and opportunities for collaboration, and to move away from the isolation that is often felt by educators in schools and classrooms.

Over the years, we have learned that sharing our work allows us to find deeper connections and inform our practice. The ITP blog is a vehicle for ongoing professional development and like the monthly roundtables will be a collaborative effort from the network of educators and schools. 

To find out more about ITP please go to our website (http://www.innovativeteacherproject.org/

Relaxed Alertness

A few weeks ago I attended an evening presentation on Creating Citizens of Tomorrow in Our Schools Today: Lessons from Reggio Emilia presented by Susan McKay, who is the director at the Opal School associated with Portland Children's Museum. During her presentation there were several thoughts that stood out as I listened and reflected on my own work with the families and children. Within the context of re-imagining what schools could look like Susan McKay talked of classrooms striving for "relaxed alertness". I was struck by the combination of words as in my own classroom my co-teacher and I have been noticing this state of being more and more but didn't have a name for it. It was simply the moment of when every child is engaged. The moment we look at each other and smile, knowing there is the perfect balance where inquiry, playfulness, and listening co-exist. We know that in that moment the conditions for co-construction and learning are optimal. During these moments you don't want to move on to snack or another transition. You simply want to maintain and extend that moment for as long as possible. As the year has progressed these moments of "relaxed alertness" have become more frequent and prolonged. It sometimes comes as quite a surprise to see this state of "relaxed alertness" come to pass in a classroom of toddlers and two years olds. We all try to provide environments where the children are engaged and playful. I begin to wonder...is it the children's maturation that has allowed this to happen more often? The comfortability in the school setting? Their security in their connections to their teachers and friends? A combination of all of these? I think about the conditions where this "relaxed alertness" can thrive and how can I cultivate it. As I stay present in my own pondering I encourage the dialogue to continue...What does relaxed alertness look like in your educational setting? What are the conditions you see it emerge? How do you achieve it within yourself?