I haven’t had much of a chance to work my way through much of this book yet, what with holiday plans and all. But today I had a whole hour and a half free to get somewhere in it. The first section is about spaces, namely the layout of the rooms and how they speak of your commitment to children. Are the majority of fixtures in your center at the children’s level or the adult’s level? The sinks and mirrors in the bathrooms? The windows in the classrooms? What do the items in each center say about your view of children? Do they say that you view children as competent individuals?
I have not even begun the process of writing down my answers to these questions, because the book first asks you what the centers should look like in general. Then it asks you what your centers would look like if you had unlimited resources. I am looking forward to answering these questions, because they will give me a foundation for answering the questions about the room I am in now. Being a teacher and not a director, I don’t feel like I can speak for the entire center, but I’m sure that I can make suggestions. The book speaks mainly to the entire center, and it would be nice to go through the book with the entire center in mind, but I am not in a position to make the necessary changes in this particular center. I am in the position, though, to design my own center with everything that I would like to see in it, and this is probably what I will do. It is a project that I will definitely look forward to.
I am also looking forward to answering the questions about my own room. Just answering the first set of questions gave me the inspiration to get rid of the “Little People” town that I have had on one of my tables for about a year. Before that it had an assortment of plastic dinosaurs and other animals. Now I have no idea what I am going to use this table for. It is a pretty big table, with a one-inch wooden lip all around the edge. I am thinking about incorporating it into my studio area and using it for my studio enhancements every week. My studio area needs a lot of work anyway, including an entirely new shelf – I don’t feel like anything is open enough with the shelf I have now. This shelf is about four feet tall and is comprised of shelves that are about ten inches wide and three or four inches tall. Right now I have paper in the openings on the top level (there are four openings at each level) and pencil boxes holding writing tools or collage materials in the other openings. But no one can see the pencil boxes all that well to see what is in them, so the majority of them never get used. I want to change that.
There are a lot of things in my room that I want to change, and it will take time to change them all. But I’m looking forward to using this as a learning experience so that I can use the skills that I learn for my own center in the future. One thing that the book did say was that for each group of children, the room (center) won’t be the same because the room (center) evolves in a way that will work with the tendencies and personalities of each group. It will be fun and challenging to put all of this into practice. I wish, however, that I had an assistant of some sort that I could collaborate with – two heads are better than one when you are talking about the personalities of children because one teacher may have noticed things that the other teacher hasn’t. And in centers in Reggio Emilia (the town) the teachers do collaborate when it comes to figuring out the best way to use or re-design a room.
But in any case, this is proving to be a very exciting and engaging read, and I look forward to posting more about my progress in the days or weeks to come.