What Makes this Italy Learning Retreat So Meaningful? Read on- An interview with Professor, Dr. Daniela Foerch from Florida International University.
Last Thursday, I was beyond excited to meet Dr. Daniela Foerch, a clinical professor in the Department of Early Childhood Education for the Graduate School of Education at Florida International University. Our Zoom call was focused on learning about her and her participants’ weeklong rich experiences at the Federazione Provinciale Scuole Materne in Trento, Italy. This year will be their fourth trip to Trento for a two-week learning immersion of Lev Vygotsky’s and Jerome Bruner’s work in grades PreK through third grade at the Federazion Provinciale Scuole Materne in Trento, Italy.
Jackie: So first things first, how do you like the city of Trento?
Dr. Foerch: Trento is a beautiful city with rich history, hospitable people, and a gorgeous nature. Hotel America is located downtown within walking distance to shops, restaurants, and cafés.
Jackie: How is the program delivered?
Dr. Foerch: We are in the schools from two to five hours daily.
We are observing interactions between students and students, teachers and students and teachers and teachers.
The teaching and learning is authentic, dynamic and unfiltered. There are classrooms that are multi-age grouped and others are not.
When we are not in the schools, we are at the Federazione Provinciale Scuole Materne headquarters learning in whole and small group settings. Time is provided for reflection, master minding and planning.
Jackie: I know you speak Italian and English fluently. How is the quality of translation from Italian to English?
Dr. Foerch: The translation is very understandable and seamless.
Jackie: How engaging are the facilitators with the participants?
Dr. Foerch: They are very engaging, personable and want to share the wonderful happenings and pedagogical approaches which their schools offer to the Trento community.
Jackie: Have you ever attended professional workshops at the Loris Malaguzzi Center in Reggio Emilia, Italy?
Dr. Foerch: Yes, for many years I attended professional learning in Reggio.
Jackie: Why the change to the Federazione Provinciale Scuole Materne?
Dr. Foerch: As I shared, the Trento school visits are daily with much time spent with the teachers and the students. Participants are observing authentic learning in an unfiltered manner. It is not contrived. It is spontaneous and dynamic. The reflection time and debriefs bring the theory and practice together cohesively.
Jackie: Any challenges you have faced?
Dr. Foerch: None.
Jackie: Is there anything else you can share about your learning experiences?
Dr. Foerch: This is our fourth trip to Trento, we enjoy working with the professional learning staff, Lorenza Ferrai, Camilla Monaco, and Julia Mazella. They are so knowledgeable about this work and make the entire experience engaging and meaningful.
I would suggest that you visit the schools before going to see and learn how truly remarkable they are.
Jackie: Thank you, Dr. Foerch! As a matter of fact, I am planning to visit this July for a taste of the Trento schools and community and to meet the team of facilitators.
I appreciate this interview. Buon viaggio to you and your group on your upcoming learning retreat to Trento!
The Italy Retreat 2023 brochure will be coming out in the next few days. Please be on the lookout for it. We have limited spots. Unlike other learning retreats, this is small and intimate for personalized learning. We are limiting this excursion to 26 participants.