What is an Educator Exchange Day?
Project Infinity Mission Statement:
We seek to build strong and lasting relationships of professional exchange between small groups of unrelated schools by uniting in ongoing study of the philosophies and experiences of Reggio Emilia.
As you all know by now The Nest has had the privilege of being a part of Project Infinity since we opened in August 2011. A few years after Project Infinity’s conception, the directors of the schools involved in the project began getting phone calls and e-mails from people in the field of early childhood asking to come for a tour of their school. The directors for the most part were happy and proud to show their schools to others in their community. But the calls and e-mails kept coming and it became challenging to make time for individual or small group tours. Thus began the idea of an Educator Exchange Day. It was agreed by the participants of the project that we wanted these to be more than just tours of the schools. In the spirit of collaboration and a never-ending desire to learn from different perspectives, we saw this as a huge professional development opportunity.
I have been a part of many Educator Exchange Days since they began in 2008. When preparing for a day like this, we feel a great responsibility to represent what we learn from Reggio Emilia in a respectful way. The biggest way we can honor what we have learned through our experiences together is to do our best to make children’s learning processes visible. This is at the crux of what the educators of The Nest are striving for every day with these young children. So in anticipation of each Educator Exchange day we ask ourselves many questions, including the following:
- How can we make visible the power of children’s natural learning processes, their strategies for building knowledge, their developing relationships, and their ever-deepening connections with our community?
- What can we learn about each other and human behavior in general from the way children learn and develop?
- How can we bring ourselves, parents and other educators closer to seeing the importance of early childhood?
Once all the hard work of making sure our school is ready for our special guests, teachers and parents station themselves in their classrooms for the tour of the school. When educators come through the classrooms they are taking notes, discussing ideas for their own contexts, and asking many questions. As an educator of young children it is very rewarding to have people actually read the “displays” you work so hard on every day and to hear their feedback and compliments. During the last half of the Educator Exchange Day, we all meet together to look at presentations related to our work with children and to exchange ideas about what we have seen and heard. This way of learning and working together is one of the best ways for us to learn and grow from one another.
Every day I am thankful to have found a place in early childhood where I am constantly pushed to change what doesn’t work, learn new things about children, and strive to create community within our school. Thank you all for being on this journey with us.
We would like to invite any of you who are interested in joining us in our very first Educator Exchange Day to come to the school Saturday, March 2nd from 9-12 to give a parents perspective.