what is the third teacher?..

As I prepare myself to return to work, I find myself thinking about how I will be establishing my classroom environment. Along with my teaching partner, we will be working to create a space that will engage the students and provoke interest The environment of a Reggio-inspired classroom is used as a way to teach to the children, and serves as the “third teacher.” A Reggio teacher sets up invitations that enagage or provoke (provocations) learning and excitement with the children. The third teacher can be the natural environment or can be something specific to meet the objectives in the curriculum.


This space should also inform the learner, in this understanding, there are a lot of “class-made” materials, such as an alphabet, word wall, calendar, number charts, etc. As projects are completed, the children’s work and documentation is displayed and used to reflect on the learning that took place.

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A class-made birthday chart

Setting Up Invitations:

Invitations, or provocations, are arranged and the project approach has been utilized within my classroom in order to emphasize some key elements that I have found to be important. These include, strengthening curiosity and intellectual dispositions as they apply to social, scientific, literacy, creative, and numeracy skills. (Bullard & Bullock, 2002, par. 9)


In order to create successful invitation that will lead to a project, I try to include some, or all of these items…

1. books connected to the objectives that you are wanting to teach. (If you teach within a Reggio-inspired classroom, and are wanting to teach specific objectives, I have found that books are really helpful.)

2. play-based materials that evoke interest and allow the children to engage in the invitation.

3. pictures, posters, or photos

4. large chart paper and markers for the students/teacher to write wonderings and questions.

*Keep in mind that I set up invitations this way in order to meet curriculum objectives.

When I first started setting up invitations, I began with the science curriculum. I found it much easier to follow through on projects and set up invitations in this subject area. Eventually, once I became comfortable with introducing learning in this way, I moved onto social studies, language arts (or English), art, and health. I have found that offering students this time to play and manipulate items related to learning, has really helped them question and engage in topics.

Invitations don’t always have to lead to projects. Sometimes, it can be a simple provocation in order to teach specific skills, such as an invitation centered around literacy or number sense. Here are some of my favourite pins that might inspire you to set up an invitation in your classroom.

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