3.3 : Interview B
Tell me a little about you: your teaching career in a nutshell, where you teach, and what kind of theory/curriculum your setting follows.
I began my career in the arts, touring with an educational theatre company for several years. Once I realized that what I really enjoyed about that job was working with the children, I pursued my graduate degree in education. I've been teaching preschool for the past ten years in two different Quaker (Friends) schools. My current school is Reggio-inspired. I work with twelve children ages 2.5-4 in a mixed age grouping.
What kind of camera(s) do your children use? Why do you use those cameras?
Our students use an iPad with a sturdy cover. Each classroom in our school has at least one iPad to use at the teachers' discretion. Taking photographs with the iPad seemed like the most user-friendly tool for young children, and we really don't utilize them for things like games or apps in the classroom (whereas older elementary-aged students in our school do).
How did you begin using cameras with children in the classroom?
I've been keeping digital portfolios for my students through Storypark for the past three years, which include a lot of photographs taken by the teachers. I was interested to see what children would choose to photograph, how they would choose to photograph their subjects, and how that information might help me better offer meaningful experiences to my students.
How do you organize children using the camera(s)? Is there are structure, or is it more flexible?
We have a daily photographer as a class job. Anyone can request that the photographer document something in particular, but they are the ones who take the photos. I keep a folder for each child's photographs on the desktop of my laptop. I upload and store the photos each day, then delete them from the iPad so that the next day's photographer is starting with an empty album.
Please share a story of children's photography in your setting that is interesting to you.
We are currently in the midst of a study on shoes because, while reviewing the photos, we realized that so many of them were of feet and shoes! The children's literal perspective is a really valuable part of the process; it's easy to forget what the world looks like from their vantage point.
Do you share children's photography with them, with families, or with colleagues? Is it part of documentation?
Yes to all. Student photos are added to digital portfolios, which the children and their families can access. I sometimes also print the photos to display in the classroom (i.e. they are on the sign for our classroom shoe store).
What are some other ways you hope to explore photography with children?
I hope to view their collective photography through a variety of lenses to inform my work: What is the teacher's role, according to their photography? What is the role of the learning environment? What can I learn about their relationships to one another? There is much to discover!
What else would you like people to know about children as photographers?
I think of photography as just another of Malaguzzi's "languages" we can offer children. Children are competent and capable recorders of their lives, and the make meaning through active experiences. Photography provides yet another avenue of expressing their learning.
Learn more about Adrienne's classroom on her blog, Dirt and Bricks!