Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I Better Learn Italian Quickly...

Because I'm going to Italy! 

Yes, after years of dreaming up schemes ways to get myself to Reggio Emilia, Italy, I have finally found success!  I recently applied with our agency to be a part of the Chicago-Reggio study group and as a result, I am headed to Italy at the end of March.  I am excited because this trip has many potentially amazing outcomes:

I get to go to Reggio Emilia.  That in and of itself is amazing enough for me.  I will be able to really explore and discover the methods used in Reggio to make their early childhood education so functional and engaging.  Listen, I practically cried the day they dismantled the Wonders of Learning exhibit here in Chicago and then wandered around like a lost soul for months (actually a year), looking for that same sense of inspiration and enlightenment.  It's hard to inspire others when you are looking to be inspired yourself!

It's amazing because I will be accompanied by a teacher from one of our sites.  This individual is someone I greatly admire and respect, as she has recently changed her focus from the upper side of the early childhood spectrum (third grade if I'm not mistaken) and has really become an outstanding preschool teacher.  Her openness to the concepts and principles of Reggio have made me feel  as though the site is ready for this kind of adventure into the study of Reggio.  I feel we are embarking on a magnificent journey and cannot wait to see how it unfolds over time.  This is exactly the spark we (I) needed.

I feel as though I'm tying myself into the fabric of our agency.  It's been almost four years that I've been at the same agency (a small miracle apparently) and I am passionate about changing the culture of the early childhood community in the city of Chicago and within our agency as well.  I'll tell ya, the day I first heard a teacher explain to a parent that her child was a "tiny human" with "feelings and experiences that he wants to share with us," I was beyond the proud mom moment.  When I saw the mom stop and realize out loud "Huh.  I guess I never really thought of him as having feelings..." I wanted to cry.  Not because she hadn't realized it before this moment, but because I saw her ah-ha moment.  I saw the way she looked at her son in a new light for the first time.  That moment made all of the other not so fabulous moments seem insignificant. 

Things are starting to shift and as long as I can maintain this momentum, I truly believe we can make the difference.  We can be the advocates for our youngest learners.  We can empower others to share the same message.  We can save childhood.

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