Shannon Milson is an elementary teacher, registered with the Ontario College of Teachers, living and working in Brantford, Ontario, Canada. With over 20+ years of teaching experience, Shannon is currently teaching Kindergarten. Her most recent (and very awesome) educational experience was working as a Student Work Study Teacher (SWST) for the Ontario Ministry of Education. She carried out research for 4 1/2 years, focusing on how children make thinking and learning visible. I had the extraordinary experience of meeting Shannon a number of times, while attending several SWST Regional and SWST Provincial Conferences when I was a Student Work Study Host Teacher.
One would certainly say that Shannon Milson stood out in the crowd with her thought-provoking, and profound statements about how children learn, and how, as educators, we best meet the learning needs of children. As luck would have it, I was able to work alongside Shannon more closely as a Student Work Study Teacher for 2 years where we became connected professionally, and quickly formed a friendship that continued beyond our years as SWSTs.
Upon returning to the classroom, ready to continue our research and implement many of our findings, we both secured positions teaching Senior Kindergarten/Grade One. It was then that we began to explore the realities of being ‘virtual learning partners’. For me, the journey with Shannon has been exceptionally educational with deeply reflective. We share on-going dialogue about children and the examination of pedagogical documentation, professional theory & practice, and enjoy the careful study of how it is that children communicate their wonderings, theories, and learning. I invite you to get to know her a bit more as her wisdom and insight is nothing short of provoking and inspirational!
Here’s Shannon answering a few of my questions.
I do my best thinking when I am reading, browsing web pages, and after speaking and brainstorming with colleagues.
In a nutshell, my philosophy of education is that responding to student learning needs is the foundation. This can be done, through the environment, in the moment, through their interests, emotionally, socially, physically. . . This leads to the most optimal conditions for learning.
Pedagogically speaking, I’m wondering about the many ways of creating an engaging environment for learning. Outdoor exploration is an integral part of my learning this year. I am currently exploring classroom design in a small spaces. I’m interested in the relationship between learning and the outdoors as an integral part of children’s learning experiences including invitations from nature, outdoor learning spaces, and sound & the outdoors.
I have many favourite Reggio Emilia-inspired reads. I enjoy books that are inquiry-based in their focus. I am currently exploring “THINQ Kindergarten: Inquiry-based learning in the kindergarten classroom” written by Jill Colyer, Joan Reimer, Deb Watters & Jennifer Watt.
My favourite book remains, “The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing Genius” written by Kristine Barnett.
One inspirational quote that I love is . . .
I am inspired by The Reggio Emilia Approach Facebook Page ~ https://www.facebook.com/reggioemiliaapproach/
How Children Inspire Me . . .
I believe that…
Children are capable of constructing their own learning.
Children show their thinking in many ways and these ways must be valued and nurtured.
In a child-driven environment, teachers play various roles to help activate learning.
The environment is intended to inspire children to investigate, think and wonder and must therefore be carefully constructed.
Children are communicators and must be listened to with respect.
Documenting children’s thoughts and interactions, reveal their emotional, social, physical and intellectual capabilities.
Things I Love . . . and by the way, the world needs more of this right now.
Words of Wisdom: “Collective change begins within ourselves.”
One educator tip I’d like to share may likely seem strange but: PURGE. The students that are coming in are different than any students you have had in the past. Besides the basics, rely on the students and families to fill your class with their interests and items from their community ~ think of the project in the book, “Beautiful Stuff: Learning With Found Materials” written by Cathy Weisman Topal and Lella Gandini.
You can find Shannon Milson on Twitter @ShannonMilson