Opal School Visitation Days 2015
More than 90 teachers, administrators, and educational researchers from nine states, two Canadian provinces, and the District of Columbia gathered in Portland last week for a three-day investigation of inquiry- and play-based approaches to teaching and learning. The following collection of images and participant reflections provides a window into the experience.
A beautiful synergy was fostered throughout the workshop, uniting us (a group of strangers) as one learning community.
This was a wonderful retreat! I have reflected on our practice, gained from material presented and discussion with colleagues, and have a plan in mind for when I return.
Years ago, we began – and abandoned – a monograph on the aesthetic dimension of schools. We identified three dimensions, including an aesthetic of the environment, of course, but also of product and process, and a third of relationship and feeling. All of these were evident in the Opal School classrooms. After being here, I think that we can return and complete that work.
[The workshop’s approach] made us think deeper and reflect on our experiences and ideas. In order for the children to learn more deeply, we as teachers need to know how to do this and feel comfortable doing this.
I was challenged to look at my teaching in new ways.
Anything I can experience that can inspire my practice and thus the experience kids can have, is valuable – this just happened to also be amazing, lively, engaging, and beautiful, too!
Your work reminds me of the words of Simone Weil – that, “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.”
This experience has really helped me to view and look into my own values of teaching, children, and learning. Observing classrooms opened my eyes to the limitless contributions that children can make to their education.
We will probably never make it to Reggio Emilia, but Opal is a place we won’t forget and know that we are welcome back to.
If you were part of the 2015 Visitation Days experience, I hope you share your reflections with us as they continue to evolve over time. Whether or not you made it to Visitation Days, I hope you can join us for the Opal School Summer Symposium in June!