I got the job. After 11 years in the amazing district that I grew up in, I was making a move. I was going to be a kindergarten teacher at an early learning center that hosts a preschool and ELEVEN classes of kindergarten. I was ecstatic!
I’ve been k-2 my entire career. I’ve got this, right? Right. It was at the end of my interview when they slid some books across the table and said some words that I’d never heard before.
“Oh, and by the way, our school is Reggio Inspired.”
Then I think I heard them say some words like “project,” “studio,” “Italy,” and “atelier.”
Mmmmmmmkay. I smiled confidently and literally made a mad dash for Pinterest. That’s when I saw it. All the Reggio things.
I saw the wood.
I saw the sticks.
I saw the sea shells.
The wicker baskets.
But like… I have 8,000 rainbow colored plastic containers. They have lids! Where does my alphabet from LakeShore go? These classroom photos on Pinterest have alphabets made out of like, uncaged farm-fresh egg cartons and organic grass-fed crayon pieces or something. WHAT. IS. THIS.
So, ok! Reggio then! I was fortunate enough to make this transition with not only one teacher that I know, but TWO! My former student teacher got hired with me. Reggio power squad? In formation.
One day, my colleague and I are driving home in a Reggio-daze when…
“WOOD!” she shouts all of a sudden. “What? Yes, girl. We need wood.” I say. “No, WOOD (frantically pointing back and motioning for me to turn around).”
It is at this point that she proceeds to hop out of my car and run toward a pile of wood that she’d seen — (private property signs aside) talkin’ about “will this fit in your trunk?!” Uh, no ma’am. You are not about to put that ant-infested piece of wood in my trunk! Ha!
We leave those pieces but it doesn’t get much better from there! So let’s play a round of “You might be new to Reggio if…”
You might be new to Reggio if… you harass your college roommate about the windows that she used for her card table display at her wedding. I mean really, what are you even going to do with them TARA?! <3
You might be new to Reggio if… you are always on the lookout for good branches and you ask random people if you can take them from their yards.
You might be new to Reggio if… you run around the craft store asking “is this Reggio!?” “Is this?”
You might be new to Reggio if… you hit every Goodwill in your city trying to collect all things wooden, wicker, and Reggio.
But honestly, you might be new to Reggio if… you do all of that work and step back and see the beauty in it.
The natural tones and colors that allow the work of children to be the star of the environment…
The creativity that comes through the simplest of materials…
The child-centered classroom decorations…
It’s all so lovely. This is my favorite classroom environment that I’ve ever created. And I made some pretty good ones before! I’ll probably decorate this way for as long as I have a classroom.
One of the biggest worries I had was about my love for creating resources for TpT. I didn’t know if I would be able to continue to create in a Reggio inspired school because it looked like I needed to teach everything with rocks and seashells!
Not the case. I still create! My resources are beautifully displayed…
(click the photos to see the resource!)
I can still create printables that can be combined with natural resources…
And the rest of my workshops run exactly the same — so I can still create resources that I love to support them. Yay!
So, I’ve been totally inspired by working in a Reggio inspired school. I still don’t know a ton about Reggio Emilia, but what I do know, I love. I love that kids are thought of as capable, smart, creative and curious. I love that it is all about them. I love that they are in charge of their thinking and learning —
…and I LOVE what it has done to me as a teacher.
LaNesha is a primary educator with a love for creating resources and professional development. She wears aprons when she teaches in order to keep her clothes crayon-gluestick-permanent marker free! And it grew into a love for collecting aprons. You can follow her on her TpT store, her blog, on Pinterest, on Facebook, and on Instagram.