By: Diane Kashin, Ed.D, RECE. Embracing Reggio principles in practice, I am committed to research. I see research as an opportunity to act upon our knowledge in a way that is collaborative, creative and critical. Collaboration can be rich. When I have the opportunity to write, co-facilitate professional learning and together with others, mess about with social media as a vehicle for making meaning and build professional knowledge on topics I am passionate about, it motivates my journey. Along with Reggio inspired practice it is the theories of Messing About as inspired by the philosophy of Frances and David Hawkins that fuel the vehicle. Frances, an early childhood educator, like myself said:
I have a number of critical friends who help me move forward on the journey. The term critical friend has its origins in critical pedagogy. Costa and Kallick (1993) suggest that:
A critical friend can be defined as a trusted person who asks provocative questions, provides data to be examined through another lens, and offers critiques of a person’s work as a friend. A critical friend takes the time to fully understand the context of the work presented and the outcomes that the person or group is working toward. The friend is an advocate for the success of that work. (p.14)
Critical friends provide constructive feedback as advocates for each other. It is through social media that I have been able to expand my circle of critical friends. Building a culture for collaboration virtually like others have done in real time – https://www.naeyc.org/files/naeyc/file/Voices/Voices_Johanson_v8n2.pdf
It is through the virtual world that I have been able to expand my network in ways I have not been able to do in real time. In the past, I have also had the opportunity to develop courses with others. I have learned much from this opportunity and with one particular course reading the course by Alison Clark, Transforming Children’s Spaces: Children’s and adult’s participation in designing learning environments I was prompted to think deeply about the future.
I am drawn to the following question posed by Clark (2010) “what does it mean to be in this place?” (p. 11). In my previous place of work, like the workplaces of many teachers, I felt isolated. Educational institutions are often more easily described as a “telling culture” rather than a “listening culture.” Yet, I have Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest friends. I have live chat on Twitter #ReggioPLC. Social media has provided what Clark (2010) calls “reciprocal listening” (p. 10) and I have been especially excited as the #ReggioPLC network expands internationally thanks to Suzanne Axelsson with the possibilities for international collaboration in teaching and learning. The first #ReggioPLC international chat happened on January 11, 2014 at 4:00 pm (EST). The topic was teacher collaboration, inspired by the many heartfelt stories of inspiration and collegiality expressed by #ReggioPLC participants, particularly kindergarten teachers and early childhood educators, working together in full day kindergarten programs.
Social media is an “enabling environment” (Clark, 2010, p. 13). For me it has opened the door to “reciprocal listening”. Clark (2010) explains that, “the notion of reciprocal listening is linked to the leadership approach within individual institutions” (p. 10). It is difficult to teach within a culture where your work and views are not acknowledged and valued. It is for this reason, that I took early retirement from my previous place of work to continue the journey of research in more enabling environments.
It is on this blog, on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, etc. that I document my journey in a quest to build knowledge and make visible the meaning of the work of my professional lives. I have written about pedagogical documentation in the past.
“Pedagogical documentation can play an important role in meaning making (Clark, 2010, p. 11). Rinaldi (2005) states that when it is used in process (during the experience) “it enables reading, revisiting and assessment in time and in space, and these actions become an integral part of the knowledge-building process” (p. 23).
Documentation as according to Clark (2010) is a “theoretical viewfinder” (p. 12). It supports the notion of the teacher as researcher and theory builder. In the past I have often turn to the Acorn School for inspiring documentation as pictured in the images below. Thank you to all my critical friends and social media friends for sharing your work, your documentation and inspiring my professional journey that has now become less isolated and more validating.