Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Role of the Teacher

What is the role of the teacher at Bella Natura?  This year, we have students ranging in age from four to twelve.  Can you imagine attempting to drill, inculcate, and lecture to “teach” all of the academic skills encompassing the NINE YEAR age-spread of our classroom? 

The role of a teacher in the REGGIO style of education is fundamentally different than the role of a teacher in a traditional educational setting.  While I do “teach” concepts, ideas, and skills TO the students, it is not my intention to SHOW or TELL my students all of the “stuff” that they are supposed to learn.  Instead, I see myself as a co-learner, a facilitator—a model for the students as they explore.  I want them to WANT to learn!
Is this realistic?  How will they learn how to read, write, and do arithmetic; not to mention “cover” ALL of the state history and science standards!?!  They will not.  We cannot.  No learner can.  Will they become creative and critical thinkers—good communicators and collaborators?  Will they develop positive attitudes about life and learning?  Yes, I trust that they will.  I expect my students to take OWNERSHIP of their learning.  They take their work seriously, and they are already beginning to take ownership of their learning goals.  This week, I overheard an older student encouraging a younger student to set aside a shelf at home to collect and display things that she is learning and discovering at school.  This attitude toward learning cannot be “taught”, but it is contagious!

By the way, students do practice their “skills” through their morning work—targeted practice for spelling, grammar, vocabulary development, conventions of language—the nuts and bolts of reading and writing.  Our skill-building time in the morning also allows each student to work on reading, writing, and math on THEIR LEVEL.  I monitor their progress, helping them to MASTER these skills...not just COVER them and move on.