Environment as Third Teacher

An intentional teacher creates and intentional environment

An intentional environment allows for time and space to be Rotating13structured to support children's emerging interests. Spaces are full of intriguing, well-organized materials. Time is flexible so activities can last as long as children's engagement is sustained, sometimes minutes but typically hours, days or weeks.

When reflecting on their ever-changing and evolving environment, teachers ask the following questions:

  • • How am I welcoming children and families?
  • • How am I sharing my intentions and values for the classroom and the students?
  • • How am I creating spaces that promote playful inquiry?

Teachers are mindful and deliberate of what choices are offered to the students within a space, materials are provided in the classroom to enhance children's complex learning and deepen their connections to a project. We allow children to approach materials in their own time so they can construct their own meanings about how the materials work. As children get older, we introduce materials that elicit considerably more complex social interaction, including negotiated collaboration of two or more persons. More complex materials may also require cooperation and assistance from others.

Questions teachers ask themselves and the teaching team about the materials:

  • • What is the focus, intention or purpose of this material?
  • • How does this material support what I see and hear from students?
  • • What do I want the students to learn from this material?
  • • Why should they learn this skill?
  • • What connections can I help children make to previous experiences or knowledge through the use of this material?
  • • Does the material engage multiple senses?
  • • Does the material invite multiple uses?

Invitations and Proposals: Our intention is to invite children to pursue their interests in the world and express their ideas and theories. We must pay careful attention not only to what we offer, but also how we offer it.
Provocation: A defined activity or set of activities intended to be done with a learning material or set of materials. Provocations usually include direct and indirect objectives, points of interest, variations and extensions.