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!


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