Opal School closed in 2021. You can continue to access these resources for free at teachingpreschoolpartners.org/resource-library/.

Coming together anew

Coming together anew

To be open to others means to have the courage to come into the room and say, “I hope to be different when I leave.”
– Carlina Rinaldi

Opal School families returned today, encountering spaces full of life. They found invitations to form new connections and communities with each other, with ideas, and with the world.

Coming to school this morning involved passing through a bleak, otherworldly landscape. Ash was raining on Portland, coming from one of the many fires enveloping the west. How might schools contextualize their work in this time of great turmoil – of fires and floods, conflict and chaos?

To serve their civic purpose, schools need to provide young people – and the older people who have the privilege to interact with them every day – the opportunity to practice what it means to be a member of a community. They need opportunities to collaborate courageously; to develop and bump up against diverse ideas; to experience breakdowns and repair; to be curious together; to identify and respond to real problems. They deserve these opportunities because our world needs people with the empathy and agency and imagination that allows them to construct organizations and systems that function at a higher level than those that led us to the state we are in today.

We think that Playful Inquiry is central to creating the conditions for that pursuit. We look forward to exploring, with you, where that approach takes us this year – and to consider the implication to your settings.

How will we share those investigations this year?

In this blog, we’ll regularly post images, ideas, and stories. Some of those posts – like this one – will be open to all readers; others, coming from each of our six classrooms, will be available exclusively to our subscribers.

At our workshops, we’ll invite you to join us in Portland and consider the big ideas that undergird the work of children and the adults who work with them. We’re hosting five professional development retreats this year – and hope that all of you will find at least one that meets your schedule. Our first comes next month, an early-in-the-year offering to investigate those daily decisions so important to emboldening learning communities.

Our online classes support both those of you who can’t make it to Portland and those who want to sustain connections between your times at Opal School. Our current course, Developing Your Story Workshop, has enthusiastic participants from around the world.

We’ll also be sharing our work with centers who schedule individual visits – both at Opal School and in their home sites. This year, we’re looking forward to working with schools, districts, and networks from Oregon, Alaska, British Columbia, Missouri, Florida, and Australia.

Five- and six-year-olds walked into Cottonwood this morning to find this blank sheet on one of their classroom’s walls. That space relies on what that community creates together. I look forward to sharing and making sense of the marks they make on it and many other sheets – at Opal School and in your classrooms!