ICS Early Years Center Blog

Inter-Community School Zurich, Switzerland

December 3, 2013
by Andrea Mills
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Teachers as Learners

Recently, two of our Early Years teachers spent time learning, exploring and inquiring into our teaching and learning practices with Kath Murdoch in London. Kath is an international presenter and expert in inquiry -based learning and integrative curriculum. (More about Kath here: http://kathmurdoch.com.au/index.php?id=22)

‘Pedagogy should, at its best, be about what teachers do that not only helps students to learn but actively strengthens their capacity to learn.’

David Hargreaves, Learning for Life, 2004

It was impossible to spend time in her presence without feeling inspired and motivated to reflect on our teaching practices and consider the powerful role inquiry plays in learning.IMG_0582

(Inquiry Based Learning with Kath Murdoch)

Professional learning for staff at ICS takes many forms, including formal courses and workshops or online classes, school visits and partnerships with other nearby international schools, staff meetings, readings and professional dialogues. All teachers in the Early Years team make time to invest in this kind of professional development. Just as the children in our care are on a learning journey, we teachers strive to keep an open mind, reflecting consistently on our practice and building our understandings of teaching and learning.

In the past year, several teachers spent time in the Italian town of Reggio Emilia, learning about their world-renowned approach to early learning. Others have attended PYP courses and a workshop about outdoor learning led by an expert in the field.  Additionally, we have ongoing in-house professional development where we share with each other on a variety of topics.

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(Networking and sharing teaching practices with colleagues at The International School of Zug and Luzern)

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(All of the Early Years teachers have had the exciting and rewarding opportunity to participate in Study Groups at the world- renowned preschools and kindergartens of Reggio Emilia)

Opportunities to dedicate time and space to professional learning and reflecting as teacher learners are invaluable to improving our practices as well as strengthening our learning communities. Life- long learning is a model we embrace and whatever the professional development opportunity, we invariably return back to the classroom motivated to integrate new ideas and build on current practices.

May 2, 2013
by emmahorsey
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Teachers as Learners and the Reggio Emilia Approach

Reggio Emilia is a pretty city in the north of Italy which looks much like others in the region, but for Early Childhood Educators Reggio Emilia is a place of inspiration for teaching and learning for young children.

This February we sent teachers from EY2, Kindergarten and Grade 1 to a conference in Reggio Emilia focused on the continuation of this educational approach which has primarily been for preschool aged children, and just last week an EY teacher and a Kindergarten Teaching Assistant along with myself were fortunate to continue their professional learning in the small Italian city.

There are many aspects of this approach to learning that appeal to us at ICS and to Early Years Educators worldwide (the conference last week, was attended by 400 participants from 29 different countries).  The importance of the physical learning environment and materials offered to children, the sense of community and participation with parents, but for me one of the most crucial elements is ‘the image of a child’.

We were encouraged to consider what image we have of children and how that impacts of the way in which we interact and teach them. It affects the way in which we listen, speak and observe children, what we expect from them and how we see our role as teachers.  After much reflection and thought I began to consider what my image of a child is.  Words like competent, capable, unique, knowledgeable came to mind.

‘We don’t want to teach children something that they can learn by themselves.  We don’t want to give them thought they can come up with themselves.  What we want to do is activate within children the desire and will and great pleasure that comes from being the author of their own learning.’      

Professor Loris Malaguzzi  founder of the Reggio Emilia Approach

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