The Role of Teachers

In the Reggio approach, the teacher is considered a co-learner and collaborator with the child and not just an instructor. Teachers are encouraged to facilitate the child's learning by planning activities and lessons based on the child's interests, asking questions to further understanding, and actively engaging in the activities alongside the child, instead of sitting back and observing the child learning. "As partner to the child, the teacher is inside the learning situation" (Hewett, 2001).

Some implementations of the Reggio Emilia approach self-consciously juxtapose their conception of the teacher as autonomous colearner with other approaches. For example:

    Teachers' long-term commitment to enhancing their understanding of children is at the crux of the Reggio Emilia approach. Their resistance to the American use of the term model to describe their program reflects the continuing evolution of their ideas and practices. They compensate for the meager preservice training of Italian early childhood teachers by providing extensive staff development opportunities, with goals determined by the teachers themselves. Teacher autonomy is evident in the absence of teacher manuals, curriculum guides, or achievement tests. The lack of externally imposed mandates is joined by the imperative that teachers become skilled observers of children in order to inform their curriculum planning and implementation.

While working on projects with the child, the teacher can also expand the child's learning by collecting data such as photographs, notes, videos, and conversations that can be reviewed at a later time. The teacher needs to maintain an active, mutual participation in the activity to help ensure that the child is clearly understanding what is being "taught".