Know Your Pelicans
What is your favorite thing about Packer?
My favorite thing about Packer is the warm relationships. The relationships with fellow teachers, staff, parents, and children that we at Packer encounter every year are monumental, and extend beyond the classroom. I also love the fact that Packer is an ongoing school. So often, my former Puppies, even as they make their way up the grades, still come down to my classroom and visit.
Another thing I love about Packer is that being here has given me the freedom to take my emergent curriculum to new heights. The Puppies have a Film Festival every year to show our community what we worked on during the year. Some projects from recent years include "The Meanies," "The Robot Movie," and "What Does The Fox Say."
Describe a favorite or memorable moment in your classroom at Packer.
One funny memorable moment was the day we were filming our "Meanies" music video. It was a inspired by Joy Cowley's book The Meanies. One scene called for a group of children to wash in mud puddles. When we were finished, two children wanted to stay in our mud bath and play, so I let them. One of the children's dad was there helping us film and he was thrilled that his son was having this experience saying, "He'll probably never get to do this again, so let him go all out!" Upon finishing, the two kids were covered in mud — all you could see were their eyes! So they had to be cleaned off in our large sink. Just as I was lifting a muddy child up to the sink, a prospective family tour came into the room. I realized how crazy it must have looked, so I kicked into gear and give a brief explanation of our emergent curriculum, that we were filming a video, and ended it with "It's just a normal day in pre-school," all while holding the smiling muddy Puppy. Then the visiting family, the admissions director, the muddy child, and I broke out into hearty laughter. Needless to say, that visiting family sent their child to Packer the following year.
Name a book/artwork/piece of music that changed your life and explain how.
Beautiful Stuff!: Learning with Found Materials by Cathy Weisman Topal and Lella Gandini.
Inspired by the teachers in Reggio Emilia, Italy, this book focuses and places importance on a child's process rather than product.
I just love this book, and it has changed the way I view the materials that I put out for my students, and how we use them. There are really great ideas for using things that we ordinarily throw away! It makes one stop and think before discarding anything at all. I believe this has created a culture of sustainability in my classroom that will continue for years to come. Teaching kids to see beauty in common objects is an important lesson, along with the idea that art can be created from anything.
What is something that most Packer people wouldn't know about you?
I created an educational blog some years back that currently has over 83,000 followers. I use Reggio Children Inspired to share the work that I have been doing in the classroom for years. My blog is a place where all Reggio Emilia Inspired Educators can share ideas and help create meaningful dialog. I also regularly give presentations and workshop to other Early Childhood Educators.