One of Richland’s SK teachers, Mrs. Daniel and one of Richland’s PK teachers, Miss Howe, enjoyed a wonderful morning at Havergal Junior School. They were able to spend the morning in Havergal’s Reggio Inspired classrooms, which like Richland’s, reflect an innovative approach to education. The classrooms were full of rich documentation, making visible the learning processes of the children, and reflective of the children’s interests and understandings.
Upon entering the school, we admired the brightness and the warmth felt within. There were many smiling, friendly faces and the faculty was more than happy to help out the visitors in any way possible.
We were free to roam the school throughout the morning. We very much enjoyed the documentation panels and variety of learning spaces.
There were a few significant realizations during our day at Havergal Junior School:
1. Using natural light to your advantage. By placing your easel directly by the window, or using the window to showcase beautiful art pieces, the natural light enhances and highlights the beauty and quality of work.
2. Including Curriculum Expectations on documentation panels. Educators include curriculum expectations met during investigations to make visible the learning process for parents and fellow educators.3. Lack of a ‘Home Centre’. Instead of a limiting ‘home centre’, there was a Drama area, which was bare except for a floor-length mirror, a coat rack with a few scarves, a box of plastic food and plates, and some empty boxes. Having an open and simple Drama area allows the students to use their own creativity and imagine their own setting or scenario. The conversations around what is being created within the Drama centre are richer, and provide more insight into the interests of the child.4. “Mess can sometimes be a good thing.” Not only as teachers, but as individuals, we are quick to say that ‘mess is bad’. We think classrooms should always be tidy. Of course there is a time and place for this, but we should also take a step back and allow children to engage with many different materials, to take resources from one Learning Space to another, and to have fun without restriction. When I first saw the mess being created in the JK classroom, I was quick to judge it as chaos. Upon discussion with Kate Daniel and my own reflection, I realized that this was just creative chaos. Students were breaking down boundaries and using their vast imagination to try new things. As Pablo Picasso once said, “An act of art begins as an act of destruction”.Much dialogue took place between teachers from both schools, and ideas were shared and relationships strengthened. Mrs. Daniel and Miss Howe were also able to explore the Grade 1 to 6 classrooms, which take the same inquiry based approach to learning as Richland Academy. It was interesting to see the many similarities between both schools in their progressive approach to deepening their student’s understanding and learning. We cannot wait to see how our experiences at Havergal will influence our own classrooms in the coming months.