Groundbreaking Documentation Work at Wheelock

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photo1The Italian municipality of Reggio Emilia has earned international acclaim for its innovative pedagogy and powerful, practice-based theory in early childhood education.  As a pedagogista for the Municipality of Reggio Emilia, Dr. Tiziana Filippini, has dedicated her life’s work to the education of young children, teachers, and families in her home community of Reggio Emilia, Italy, and around the world. Wheelock College was honored to have Dr. Tiziana Filippini as a Presidential International Visiting Scholar in May as well as award her with an honorary degree of Doctor of Education during Wheelock’s 2015 Commencement Ceremony.

Teachers in Reggio schools see themselves as researchers, continually exploring and contributing to our knowledge about: who children are and how they learn; the role of the teacher; and the role of school in society. If you go into any classroom in Reggio, you will see teachers (and even children) taking photographs, videotaping, taking notes, and collecting other records of children’s work and activities. Through this careful documentation of both the products and processes of learning, these schools in Reggio have come to the attention of the world and are considered by many to be the premier model of early childhood education.


“Teachers in Reggio schools see themselves as researchers, continually exploring and contributing to our knowledge about: who children are and how they learn; the role of the teacher; and the role of school in society.”


Dr. Tiziana Filippini has worked with educators around the world to develop more robust documentation practices, challenging researchers and practitioners to think creatively about ways that documentation can support learning, encourage collaboration, and communicate learnPhoto2ing to others. At Wheelock, her collaboration with the Making Learning Visible Project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education inspired Stephanie Cox Suarez in 2008 to launch our own Documentation Studio, which has become an invaluable resource for a broad spectrum of educators in Boston and New England. At the Documentation Studio, Wheelock faculty and students seek to learn (and help others to learn) more about some key practices that help to make the Reggio schools so extraordinary—namely, the use of documentation to support individual and group learning (for learners of all ages).

photo3During a special Open Studio on May 12th, Dr. Filippini worked with Making Learning Visible researcher and Wheelock Documentation Studio collaborator Melissa Rivard; Boston Public Schools Early Childhood Program Developers Marina Boni and Melissa Tonachel; and over 80 teachers from all over New England to explore a common dilemma: the Department of Education is asking kindergarten teachers from across the State to “document” learning by observations and visuals like photos and video and notes. Educators who think about a Reggio inspired approach to documentation encourage that this documentation be meaningful, inform teaching and learning, investigate children’s interests, and support time for teachers to closely listen to children. Together, the group explored opportunities and challenges of bringing Reggio-inspired approaches and curricula to teachers and young children in Boston public kindergarten classrooms and other contexts.


The dilemma: how to train kindergarten teachers from across the State to “document” learning by observations and visuals to adhere to the Department of Education framework? 


Dr. Tiziana Filippini’s unwavering dedication to improving the quality of teaching and learning truly inspired a world of good during her time at Wheelock, and we look forward to continued collaboration. For more information on Wheelock’s Documentation Studio, visit http://www.wheelock.edu/docstudio

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