Becoming an Atelierista: Reflective teaching, for better or worse

Teaching this way is all about the possibilities of tomorrow and the potential of next week, or next year. I always start with what I know about the children within the context of the classroom and the community. From there, I try to listen to children when they are engaged with each other, with things, with ideas. Inspired by what I notice, I begin to fill my "extra pockets" with resources, research, media and materials and a multitude of plans that may fit the investigations of the children.

In learning to become an Atelierista, I have followed the same pattern in my planning for working with teachers. What will I need to have at the ready for each teachers' group? Summer break and the first few weeks of school are an optimistic time. I reflect on what was hard from the year before, and dream of what it could be like next time. I look for media and materials, potential projects, ideas, new ways of being and collaborating that will help me do better in the new term. More than anything I want to learn to help teachers take their practice further without adding more work or unwanted conversation to their already full days.

The last week or so, it seems that reality has overtaken optimism and I realize I'm not figuring things out much better than last year. The studio seems hopelessly cluttered with stuff, and more arrives every day. My schedule is packed so tight that again there is no time for what I really want to do- to dialog with teachers over a table filled with traces of the children's work. My vision of beautiful collaborative documentation on the walls is still just a dream.

It's a bad feeling, but on the other hand I think maybe it is part of the cycle of teaching in the way I do. When you are always looking toward what happens next, there comes a time when you have to look around and see the moment you're in... when hopes and dreams have to be balanced with what can actually be accomplished. Maybe this coming week will be better 


  1. I'm always trying to figure out how to balance optimism with pragmatism. It's hard for me to accept the ups and downs. I just want all ups. We should start maping out the years so that we start to remember it is all part of the process. It's too close for me to really see but I bet all of our close friends and significant others could probably plot it out pretty well for us... ha!

  2. I feel overwhelmed by these same feelings at least once a week (often more), but I often feel as though I need to keep it all inside - that if I own up to them, I am actually owning up to being a bad teacher or that I am doing everything wrong. This post gives me some courage and reminds me that sometimes it is not necessarily about me so much as the circumstances and the reality of an imperfect world. It still feels frustrating and overwhelming, but it helps to know that I am not alone...

  3. Thanks for your very honest thoughts. I, too, have felt my optimism slip away as the weeks have gone by. The very important work of meeting the diverse needs of the individual children and their families has taken up so much of my time and energy...I'm disappointed to not have more time built into my week for quality reflection and documentation. There's so many variables pulling on me as a mother/teacher that this important piece of my work gets put on the back burner!


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