Our Stories

JPDS-NC Hosts DC Reggio Emilia Alliance Study Group

October 13, 2016 by Melissa Davis (Faculty and Staff)

JPDS-NC hosted the first DC Reggio Emilia Alliance (DCREA) meeting of the school year at the South Campus on Wednesday, September 28. We were honored to host 35 educators from Washington area preschools, independent schools, and public schools at the event. We thank our colleagues from Congregation B’nai Tzedek, St. John’s Episcopal Preschool, Temple Sinai Nursery School, The Young School, Temple Emanuel ECC, Columbia Baptist Child Development Center, Beverly Hills Preschool, Washington Hebrew, EDCJCC Preschool, and the Takoma Children’s School for joining us.

The DC Reggio Emilia Alliance is a study group for educators in the DC area that gathers monthly to further collective learning and strengthen individual practices inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy. Established in 2011, DCREA is committed to deepening relationships among educators and elevating professional discourse through research and collaboration, making growth and risk-taking possible, and using the work of children, school environments, professional literature, lectures, workshops, and the community as resources for study.

The first hour of every meeting is dedicated to touring the host site. Lisa Davis, Melissa Davis, Judy Kimel, Xani Pollakoff, and Vas Pournaras served as ambassadors of JPDS-NC’s South Campus. After the tour, we gathered in the Kikar where the meeting focused on exploring the power of effective teacher/peer critique and feedback as a cornerstone of classroom practice. We began by watching Austin’s Butterfly, a video by Ron Berger (Chief Program Officer, Expeditionary Learning Schools). For JPDS-NC educators this was an extremely relevant topic as we have been reading and discussing Ron Berger’s An Ethic of Excellence and successfully implementing teacher/peer critique and feedback into our multiple-draft process.

After watching the video, colleagues gathered into small discussion groups to reflect. When we came back together as a collective to share our small-group conversations, the dialogue centered on the value of redrafting, the importance of building excellence in student work, how critique sessions provide countless opportunities for sharing knowledge and skills, and how this type of practice can encourage a growth mindset. Kindergarten teachers Lisa Davis, Xani Pollakoff, and Vas Pournaras presented the multiple-draft process used during the South Campus Community Library Project from the 2015-2016 school year. Multiple drafts were just one of the many components of this multi-disciplinary project. For example, during the library project students were simultaneously studying the author Kevin Henkes. Children were invited to choose specific characters from Kevin Henkes’ books to sketch using multiple drafts. During the redrafting process, students were asked to follow a specific protocol while offering feedback: be kind, be specific, and be helpful. The results were breathtaking. I invite you to visit our South Campus Community Library and get a first-hand look at the multiple-draft process that made it possible.