My name is Corinna Lake and I’m on an educational journey with my girls that is led by intrinsic motivation, imagination, and creativity that fosters a lifelong love for learning. As a wife, mother of two, former teacher and tutor I am passionate about many things: literacy, learning through play and nature, and the Reggio Emilia Approach. Everything in Joy is a blog I created to share these passions.
My journey began when I tutored a child who lost all interest in reading books AND writing. Zero interest! This child was only in the SECOND GRADE (8 years old). After months of trying to read books that were tailored to his reading level and printed from the computer, I finally realized the obvious: We needed to establish a love for books and stories again with authentic literature. Reading websites with leveled books are not all bad. They serve a purpose. However, their purpose can get over-used and should be supplemental. Authentic literature is real bound books that are not printed from the computer. I was inspired by Paula Kluth’s book, Just Give Him The Whale: 20 Ways to Use Fascinations, Areas of Expertise, and Strengths to Support Students With Autism.
This book encouraged and inspired me to see the child as the Expert. To ask the child, “What would you like to read about?” “What do you love?” “What do you think we should read?” These questions transformed my thinking. What happened was revolutionary. Not only were we reading biographies of the child’s choice, but the child was asking FOR MORE!
This experience changed me and started me on a very different path about my beliefs in education and how children learn.
I was once on a committee to start a school where I had the honor and pleasure to work along side teachers from The Woodbury School, a preschool and Kindergarten based on the Reggio Emilia Approach. My husband, Tom also had a rewarding experience working in the classroom as a Teacher’s Aide there in the past. After several thought-provoking conversations, I decided it was time to read The Hundred Languages of Children, a foundational book about the Reggio Emilia Approach.
My NYS Masters in Literacy and obtaining 6 NYS teaching certifications in Early Childhood, Elementary Ed and Special Education areas taught me that one of the main goals of an educator is to create intrinsically motivated lifelong learners. But how to do this in a traditional classroom is left a mystery. We are given that as a goal, but then bogged down by state-mandated tests, and district-imposed curriculum. It is all most educators can do to keep their heads above the constantly rising tide of intensifying curriculum and instructional expectations that have more to do with politics than the act of educating. Soon, the day-to-day teaching life becomes one of trying to coax students to learn through curriculum and lessons that not even the teacher can become excited about. The heart of learning is lost as the students realize that who they are and what ideas and interests they want to pursue have never been apart of their education from day one.
The Reggio way approaches education in the exact opposite way that a traditional school district does, and this is its greatest strength. By pursuing student-based interests, both the educator and the students are on a path of discovery together. And with discovery, there is excitement, interest, zest! Now our goal of creating life-long learners suddenly seems attainable. As I learned more, I discovered how naturally reading and writing were woven into the daily life of students in Reggio classrooms. This is where my background in literacy leapt for joy. Now that the students were intrinsically motivated, all of my research-based, literacy knowledge could be put into practice, and it would be effective.
Since 2014 I’ve been actively putting these thoughts into practice. I’ve combined my years of teaching young children into Reggio inspiration as a whole. Now as I attempt homeschooling, I’m realizing a lot on this “progressive” journey. But mainly two things:
- I’m a Mother first. I’m more humble and in some ways feeling less of an expert, as MOM! I constantly try to learn new things. I’m a teacher second. I’m definitely NOT a “Know-it-all” and rather desperately seek ways our brains learn, obtain and comprehend information. So I’ve gladly put myself back in the “student’s seat” per se the moment I became a Mother.
- I can’t do this alone. I feel so blessed to have a supporting family near and far. My husband Tom… It’s hard to put into words how grateful I am to see him as “Papa.” He’s just amazing at this whole Fatherhood thing. I am also blessed by friends in a similar season of life as me, my church community, as well as local networks of educators with similar beliefs to this rather “outside of the box” type of learning. Reggio Emilia Study Group and my good friend Lauren Seaver from Rochester Yoga Preschool are examples of awesome people I feel fortunate to be around!
Please join me on this journey as we learn through play and excitedly witness the “hundred languages” children use to express their understandings. This blog began as a documentation of a Reggio inspired homeschool group. Currently it’s my girls and I, but may grow into more over time. Everything in Joy blog focuses mostly on the Reggio Emilia Approach, but I dabble a bit into Waldorf and Montessori at times. We’re not alone on this journey and we’ll share our partners in play with you along the way. Come join us!
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