Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A new year, means new learning and opportunities!


Happy New Year!

The holidays came and went so quickly, and somehow we are already halfway through the first month of 2015.  Have you stuck to your New Year's resolutions?  


I am feeling really excited about the new year!  As educators, we are so fortunate to have two fresh starts in our school year: September and January.

With a new year, often come new ideas, goals, and of course the hope of learning just that much more than we knew before...  For those of you who have been following the blog over the last few years, you know that above all else, I enjoy developing new understandings about children, gaining different perspectives from colleagues, and collaborating in creative ways.  I love to learn SO much, that I founded a professional network entitled, #CTInquiry that stands for "Connected through inquiry: A curious community of learners," to meet monthly and discuss inquiry in person and online.  Though I have a whole page dedicated to this free professional learning opportunity on my blog, I thought that I would invite any educators who were interested to join our network.  We will be meeting next week for our January face-to-face session at Thornhill Woods Public School on Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 at 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.  Our next online Twitter chat will be on Wednesday, February 18th, 2015 from 9:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.  You are welcome to bring any inquiry work that you are currently attempting in your class (photographs, conversations, questions students are wondering about, work samples, etc.) for us to study and plan next steps for.



I have also started to use the #CTInquiry hashtag on Instagram and Twitter, as a way to inspire educators across our province and beyond.  Each day, I feature one to two captivating images of learning posted by a teacher, designated early childhood educator, artist, or parent who have used the hashtag under their photo.  If you want your photos (new and old) featured on my Instagram page, tag them with #CTInquiry.  Your tags can be Reggio-inspired environments, materials, provocations, art/creative experiences or inquiry work.  

I look forward to another year with #CTInquiry, learning from your thought-provoking discussions,  posts, and inspire one another.



2015 marks the first year where I will be offering my own workshops through TransformEd Consulting Services.  This is my attempt to respond to questions that I have received through the blog, in hopes of trying to meet the needs for educators and their growing interest in early childhood education and inquiry-based learning.

Just to clarify, the following sessions are being offered at the St. George's Golf and Country Club (1668 Islington Avenue Toronto, Ontario M9A-3M9) this Winter:


This workshop had such an overwhelming response, that I had to place several people on the waiting list in order to secure another time slot for us to fit into the space.
Saturday, January 17th, 2015
Workshop One 9:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. with breakfast.
Workshop Two 2:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. with an early dinner.
All participants were emailed in December with their confirmation, time, and receipt.  If for whatever reason you did not receive this, because your principal or supervisor registered for you please contact me.  
***The golf course will have wifi for us, so you are welcome to bring your own device.


Saturday, February 7th, 2015
9:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. with breakfast.


Saturday, March 7th, 2015
9:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. with breakfast.

If you are still interested in attending these winter workshops, I did confirm the numbers in early December, however, have been able to make special arrangements for those who might have missed the opportunity to register.  Please contact me at joannemariebabalis@gmail.com.  There are no promises, but I can call the venue and see what I can do to accommodate your request to attend.  

For full descriptions of each session please visit here.


I am planning to instruct the Kindergarten Part 1, 2, and Specialist combined course through York University this Spring.  The dates are not on the York University website yet, as they have not been determined.  I will get my PhD course selection options for the Spring/Summer and can then commit to an evening for the course.  


Other opportunities in 2015 include:

  • Ottawa Carleton Elementary Teachers' Federation Professional Development Day- Ottawa, Ontario (February 2015) Inquiry planning: How to begin an inquiry in your classroom

  • Child Development Resource Connection Peel (CDRCP) Workshop-Mississauga, Ontario (March 2015) The third teacher

  • Early Childhood Community Development Centre (ECCDC) Workshop-Niagara Falls, Ontario (April 2015) Moving away from themes: Embracing inquiry-based learning, a process that values children as leaders and learners

  • Exploring Possibilities Conference-Edmonton, Alberta (April 2015) Topic TBD

  • Department of Education and Early Childhood Development Summer Institute-St. John's, Newfoundland (August 2015) Topic TBD

Links to register will be added here, as they become available, and on the "Events" page of the blog.  Some sessions may be for a specific audience and private group, while others are open to the public.



Though I have been busy setting up a new library, presenting at workshops and conferences, and taking my own courses, I still plan to squeeze some time for writing.  Of course, the blog is a space where I can write, but I would like to begin publishing resources, and offering online webinars for blog followers who are unable to attend my sessions.  I hope that I can turn this goal into a reality in 2015...


After giving the blog a makeover last Spring, I knew that I needed to do the same with my business cards.  Now the next time that you hear me speak, you can choose the image that intrigues you most.


It still astounds me that a simple blog could go so far...  Somehow I still can't get used to the idea that educators actually read this and are interested in what I have to say.  I feel very thankful to share my ideas, and hope to continue to learn every day. 


I owe this blog, its followers, my experiences, and education a lot.  Collectively, they have opened up doors for me to become a public speaker.  

I am open and willing to present on a number of topics which include, but are not limited to:

  • The third teacher: Transforming your learning environment into a space of possibilities
  • Considering the layers of inquiry: Transforming educational practices 
  • Full inclusion: How inquiry-based learning levels the playing field for all children
If you are interested in having me speak at your university, school, childcare program, or conference, please contact me through the blog.


In May, my Reggio Emilia-inspired journey will continue, as I prepare to attend my second study tour in Reggio Emilia Italy with the Ontario Reggio Association.  I am referencing this approach within my PhD research, and consider myself extremely fortunate to be returning for further opportunities to connect with the Italian educators who never cease to amaze me!  When I return, I plan to blog about my learning, so stay tuned! 


What I have learned from these last few years, is to do what you love with your whole heart and only good things can follow…  


The only way to do great work
is to love what you do.
If you haven't found it yet,
keep looking. Don't settle.
As with all matters of the heart,
you'll know when you find it.
                                                                                                      -Steve Jobs