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The Teacher’s Eyes, a Way to Look at the Children.

by Ana Paula Lima da Rocha, early childhood teacher at the International School of Curitiba, Brazil. 

“Stand aside for a while and leave room for learning, observe carefully what children do, and then, if you have understood well, perhaps teaching will be different from before.”-Loris Malaguzzi 

When I first started reading about the Reggio Emilia approach my eyes caught something that I thought would be impossible for a teacher to do, “the teacher is not the source of knowledge anymore.” But how come I am not the source anymore? How am I going to teach young children? How am I going to plan for the next class?

Those questions wouldn’t leave my thoughts, the pedagogy of listening helped me understand that the attention from the teacher would move to the child, meaning that the child would be the protagonist of his own learning. But how can the teacher work like that? Observing, listening, being around the children without asking questions, just listening to what they have to say or do. A child’s knowledge is constantly built by life experiences and connections: ” did you know that when I drink water, I cannot speak, because my mouth is full of water.” – E. 3 years old.

When working in a project related approach, the teacher will have as a support the daily observation time, making notes, taking pictures, voice record and videos as tools to go back later and interpret what the children are showing interest in it. That way after collecting all the data, the teacher will work as a researcher and bring it back to the classroom different provocations for the children to work on as investigators of their own learning.

But what is a provocation? It is what provokes the child’s thoughts, discussions, questions, interests, creativity and ideas. As an example, my classroom wanted to learn more about the farm, so I set up a provocation using loose parts and toy animals.


Children’s work

During the activity, I could observe that three children were working together in the same center, but not building the farm on the same place, they did different environments for the animals, with different views and opinions.

Throughout the observation as a teacher I am responsible to go back to the previous topic that started the project. Using the observations made, bring it up to a big group discussion as a way to support the process of their learning, always keeping in mind that the process is more important than the final result. In Reggio Emilia the process of learning is the main focus for teachers and children, it is called Progettazzione: “Knowledge building does not proceed in a linear way, determined and deterministic, by progressive and predictable stages, but rather is constructed through contemporaneous advances, standstills and retrocession. -Julianne Wurm, 2005. ” With all the information collected, with projects ongoing, how can a teacher make learning visible to parents and community?

This stage is called: Documentation. After observing and interpreting, the next stage is documenting what was seen during the learning process. Documentation supports the listening pedagogy, it is a reflection of the daily observation that goes around the children’s experiences in the school.

Documentation wall

How to document? There are many ways to document learning, such as:

  1. Take a photograph from the play time of the little ones in order to document their processes of research and exploration of things.

  2. Every form of registration is valid: videos, audios, notes, etc.

  3. Understand that the child is a developing brain, but it is also a learning body.

  4. To take care of space so as to favor autonomy and ease of locomotion, to minimize as much as possible the teacher’s interventions, such as “do not go up there”, “do not touch that”.

  5. Provide materials that stimulate thinking and allow the child to explore them as they are available and are shown a smooth way to learn;

  6. Provide activities that establish connections, both of the children with the world and of a child with another. Working issues such as diversity, respect, otherness, social injustice, class issues, race and freedom are welcome in this regard.

  7. Before you propose your own questions as an education professional, listen and listen to the children’s own questions.

Listening to the children goes beyond the teacher’s expectations, when we start to see the child as a whole, they become the protagonists of their own learning. If they are confident with themselves, others and the environment they will be able to learn on their own way using their heads, hands and hearts.

Think outside the box, have the child be the protagonist of their own story, observe little details and always listen to what they have to say and do.

Author: Ana Paula Lima da Rocha. Passionate early childhood teacher at the International School of Curitiba. Bachelors in Pedagogy with post bachelors in Early Childhood, and also a Reggio Emilia Inspired educator. LinkedIn:


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