Last year, I became aware of the Reggio Emilia approach to education. For those of you who don’t know what this is,the Reggio Emilia approach uses natural world objects, loose parts, provocations and exploration in an emergent learning way. It is far from how we in North America have taught children in the past, but embraces much of what early childhood experiences should be. That being said, there are pockets of people around this continent who have always embraced this play based, exploration way of working with children. Reggio Emilia has gained in popularity recently, as we are taking a step away from pencil and paper, academic Kindergartens and Grade 1 classes.
I have been trying to learn about this approach and have relied on many educators who I consider experts in Early Childhood Education. One of the places I have gained inspiration is the Monday night #kinderchat. I have sat in on many fascinating discussions about play and learning with some extremely knowledgeable people. What I wasn’t seeing was a group dedicated to Reggio Emilia. Well, in true form, I asked one little question: “Is there a Reggio chat? Looking to expand my knowledge.”
That one question with less than 140 characters created a lot of responses. There was definitely an interest in exploring Reggio Emilia, and I admit, my panic started to rise when people suggested I start one. I sought some advice from the folks who started #kinderchat and I got the best advice from @happycampergirl, “So, this one day, we made up a hashtag… and then we picked a timeslot….” I had to laugh; it sounded so simple and yet my heart was pounding! A fellow teacher from Ontario was interested in helping out and she thought we could lead the chat together. In a matter of about 25 tweets and 2 days, #reggiochat was born.
I consider #reggiochat “my baby” right now. I know I share responsibility of it with my PLN partner, but it has given me further reason to read and explore more into the world of Regio Emilia. At the inaugural chat on Oct. 2, 2013 there were teachers from Canada, the United States and even one from Singapore. I admit that the first chat seemed like the most nerve-wracking hour for me. I had some questions to pose if the conversation lagged, but they weren’t really needed. Much like the idea of emergent curriculum, the conversation emerged on its own. The ideas that were shared and the knowledge of the people in the chat was astounding. I was able to take ideas and start using them right away in my classroom. I have so many questions and this arena of chatting on twitter lets me ask and not feel ignorant, as I know there are others out there who are wondering the same thing. We have continued to meet, although there have been some hiccups. Illness, holidays and another Reggio chat sharing Wednesday have all been things to contend with. I believe we are now beginning to meet every 2 weeks, and although the groups are often small, they are knowledgable.
Through #reggiochat, I have also started to use Storify to archive the conversations we have. That was another learning curve for me. I never thought I would be archiving twitter chats about student documentation. It is a great tool though. Easy to use and ties into my twitter account so I can quickly access it after a chat, before I race off to #enviroed or a Campfire Chat.
I hope we continue to meet and grow. I hope more poeple bring their brilliance and wonder to share with #reggiochat. I am proud fo starting this little chat, and opening up the world of Reggio Emilia and emergent curriculum to the twitterverse.