Citizen World-Making and an Ecology of Listening

What does it mean to listen– to truly listen? When I think about this word, I think about what it looks like and feels like to give attention to whatever is unfolding at any given moment. As I began to reflect on this idea of listening, I was reminded of many encounters that I’ve had […]

By Heather Scerba | Consulting

Start a New Story

“Every story starts with the assumption there is some acceptable, canonical state of the world.  What starts the story going is that the expectable, the predictable, canonical state of the world gets violated.” Jerome Bruner, Loris Malaguzzi International Centre, June 2006 “Opal School definitely got me out of my comfort zone… [It] goes against a lot […]


Pedagogical approaches and their political implications

Opal School led professional development workshops in Vancouver, BC last week. They were rich opportunities to connect and develop new ideas with educators in a region that has been inspired and transformed by Opal School’s work. Our second day’s session focused on play, the arts, and education for democracy.  Before considering the role that play […]


Courageous and Collaborative Communities: A report from the workshop

Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness. Brené Brown Last week, we hosted the first of this year’s Opal School Visitation Days workshops. This one brought together 70 educators from diverse contexts – pre-k and elementary, rural and urban, public and private, multilingual and […]


Courageous and Collaborative Communities

Last week, I split my time between two groups.  The first half of the week, Opal School hosted a Study Tour for a school from Miami Beach.  On Wednesday, Susan and I went to Juneau, where we spent the remainder of the week working with another school staff.  These are radically different demographic contexts: Other […]


On the edge of Symposium, thinking without bannisters

Opal School’s Summer Symposium begins Wednesday.  It’s a frenetic time around the building: having said goodbye to students last week, teachers are setting up their classrooms for visitors, creating documentation panels, and writing presentations (not to mention annual academic reports).  It’s a time of long days and nights consumed by deep reflection and meaning-making – of […]


Reading the World 2017: Literacy, Creativity, Sustainability, and the Principles of Engagement

In order to read the world, we must be moved by what we see.In order to create, we must have a strong desire to examine what has moved us.In order to sustain this world we have made and seen and read, we must understand why we were moved.We cannot be moved without relationships. L.C., teacher-participant […]


Getting the lights right for dancing

At Visitation Days, we explored this definition of Playful Inquiry with educators from across the United States and Canada – and we’ve been chewing on it here ever since.  There is so much to unpack, as every clause crawls with meaning, opening the door to vital (and complicated) questions: Who is this community? How is […]


All under one roof

To readers of Opal School Online, it might be easy to forget that Opal School was a project of the Portland Children’s Museum. To Portland Children’s Museum visitors, it was not always visible that Opal School lived within it. It was an unusual organization, doing so much under one roof – exhibits, programs, an elementary […]


Reflections on Opal School Visitation Days 2016

Two weeks ago, teachers and administrators from more than thirty schools across North America gathered at Opal School for our annual Visitation Days, dedicated to investigating conditions that support a “playful inquiry” approach to learning.  Over two-and-a-half days, this diverse group of participants investigated classroom environments, observed class in session, responded to presentations by Opal […]