The Reggio Emilia approach to education is one that is very child-centred and sees the child as an active participant in learning as well as an individual with potential. It sees the child, teachers and parent as collaborators in the learning process and stresses that this community is important for the young child to develop. The environment is also crucial in this process and is seen as the third educator and a place where adults have thought about the quality and the instructive power of space. The layout of that space fosters encounters, communication and relationships, which are all crucial to learning. Documentation is used to make student learning visible and to track the process of student thoughts and ideas as they play and interact together. Learning is not a linear process but a spiral progression. The teaching role therefore is different as teachers observe students in action, compare, discuss and interpret together with other teachers their observations. These interpretations and discussions are then shared with the students and the next stage is developed.
As an IB school using the PYP curriculum framework, the ideas and philosophy fitted together very well. The idea that instead of just teaching content but teaching conceptually is a basis of the PYP, and so developing and observing student thinking was the next step. This new approach to scrutinising student thinking and purposefully planning to develop thinking strategies has given us a whole new perspective on our students and has made our teaching more insightful.