A Center for Learning
Opal School is a learning place for both the young people who come to class daily as well as for educators who attend our workshops and web-based projects. Recently, teachers, administrators, and specialists came from far and wide to attend a multi-day session focusing on playful inquiry. Our work together served as both provocation and meeting place, a site where individuals and groups from six states could discuss what they see teachers and children doing at Opal, how that relates to their contexts, and how it might inspire next steps.
Why take the time to study together in Portland? Being here allowed participants to spend important time together in the classroom. Observations of children and teachers involved in playful inquiry – as well as the physical settings and documentation – were focal to analyzing the environments that support curiosity and the wonder of learning. The workshop structure provided participants from so many settings the opportunity to compare notes and challenge their conclusions.
At Opal School, we benefit from hearing what visitors say about what they see. Being together also invites wondrous happenstance. On one particular visit, the Opal fifth grade class struck up a conversation with a teacher from Arizona. His gift to them of an atecocolli brought their studies forward, extending questions of colonization and duality.
The observations and conversations were further supported by presentations from classroom teachers – from pre-school through grade five – providing both the theoretical foundations and stories revealing an arc of learning that extends beyond what can be seen on any one day. Educators are honored to hear learning stories told with attention to meaning and detail, and it’s through this teacher-research that we learn about how children learn and extend the possibilities of what school can be.
We’re always looking for new ways to connect with our colleagues, both near and far. In the coming weeks, we’re hosting several studies of Story Workshop, including a monthlong web-based course for Head Start teachers in Montana; presentations & staff trainings in Canada, Washington, and California; and a webinar through the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).
We’re looking forward to working with you!