Artists at the Centre


Nurturing the Enthusiasm and Ideals of new Teachers through reflective practices
Page 4 / continued be dampened by an understandable feeling of alienation or defensiveness among centre staff whose ECE program had not included exposure to these ideas. The interest has grown, and now these sessions are hosted on a rotating basis in the centres that have begun to explore the Reggio approach, so others can see what these teachers are doing. They are excited about their journey, and it is contagious. There were over fifty early childhood educators at the last meeting. There was also a full page-and-a-half article about these programs in the newspaper – the Saturday issue, no less, on the front page of a section with colour photos of the children’s artwork. These educators are celebrating their ongoing learning while creating a new kind of ‘real world’. What a stimulating environment for both rookie and veteran early childhood educators!

New grads were employed in two of these centres last spring. When I spoke with them recently about their rookie year, they both identified that it had been exhilarating, and that the seeds planted during their ECE program were being nurtured every day. They were supported and challenged as co-learners, and able to contribute their own questions and insights to the sustained conversation. The Reggio Emilia approach has served as a catalyst and inspiration for these particular programs. But a program need not necessarily be pursuing the Reggio approach to engage in this type of process of ongoing reflection and collaboration. Ultimately, children will benefit from being in the care of thoughtful enthusiastic educators. When we support reflective practice, we support students, rookies, veterans, and the children in their care. We all grow.

In many jurisdictions in this country, early childhood educators are struggling for professional recognition. It is hard not to be hopeful that we are on the verge of seeing greater support and resources and recognition for early childhood education. If this is to happen, we must be ready. We must be functioning as professionals, not as babysitters. This means we must be involved in reflection, in making things better in the real world. It means we must support our students and rookies so that their idealism catches hold. If we believe Annie Dillard’s (1987) message that no child on earth was ever meant to be ordinary, we should do everything in our power to see that each extraordinary child and educator is supported in extraordinary communities of learners.


Dillard, A. (1987). An American childhood. New York: Harper & Row.

Goodlad, J.I. (1990). Better teachers for our nation’s schools. Phi Delta Kappan, November, 185-194.

Gratch, A. (1998). Beginning teacher and mentor relationships. Journal of teacher education, 49, 3, 220-227.

Howes, C. and Galinsky, E. (1996) Accreditation of Johnson & Johnson’s Child Development Center. In Bredekamp, S.,& Willer, B.A. (Eds.) NAEYC Accreditation: A decade of learning and the years ahead. Washington DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children, 47-60.

Katz, L.G. and Chard, S.C. (2000). Engaging children’s minds: The project approach (2nd ed.). Stamford CT: Ablex Publishing Corporation.

Malaguzzi, L. (1998). History, ideas, and basic philosophy: An interview with Lella Gandini. In Edwards, C., Gandini, L., & Forman, G. (Eds.) The hundred languages of children: The Reggio Emilia approach – advanced reflections. Greenwich CT: Ablex, 49-97.

Philp, M. (2000). Child-care workers ‘do the math’ – and quit. The Globe and Mail, May 12, p.A5.

Schon, D. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. New York: Basic Books.

Wideen, M., Mayer-Smith, J., & Moon, B. (1998) A critical analysis of the research on learning to teach: Making the case for an ecological perspective on inquiry. Review of educational research, 68, 2 130-178.

Karyn Callaghan is a professor of early childhood education at Mohawk College in Hamilton Ontario.

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