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Whenever the Natural Pod team collaborates with educators there’s always a great sense of forward motion; it’s exciting! Although usually done in an in-person setting, we were required to pivot and offered our first virtual workshop this week. 

With a focus on creating intentional and inspiring environments, Bridgitte, CEO and founder of Natural Pod, conducted a virtual workshop with the educators of SAR Academy Early Learning Center (ELC), who are about to start the school year in a stunning new building featuring natural light and glass walls.

SAR Academy is a Modern Orthodox co-educational day school dedicated to the belief that every child possesses a divine spark, has unique worth as an individual and should be encouraged to achieve according to his or her ability. Their warm environment promotes confidence, creativity and enthusiasm for learning. In their approach to academics they nurture students to develop intellectual curiosity, critical thinking skills and a lifelong love of both Torah and Secular studies. They have created a program committed to excellence in every aspect of their educational goals.

Natural Pod has had the honour of working closely with Associate Principal Alana Gelnick from the project’s inception to create the best learning and play environment for their young students. Alana and her team have been actively engaged throughout the design process. So much so, that Alana now has a Natural Pod Play Loft named after her! It was such a pleasure to have the opportunity to go even deeper with these educators to examine how their new learning environments can deepen creativity and provide more opportunities for learning.

Natural Pod’s work is all about continuing to inspire our community. Here are some of the questions we invited the educators to reflect on?

    • What inspires you about your space? What inspires your students?
    • How can you use the space creatively/differently?
    • What do you hope to achieve with your space? What is its intention?

Here are some of the answers from the educators when asked ‘what inspires your students?’
‘They need to feel safe, secure and loved’
‘Choice’
‘Interesting materials’
‘Open ended materials’
‘Inviting materials’
‘Excitement’
‘Curious’
‘Welcoming surroundings’
‘A relationship of security with their teachers’
‘Inviting materials, and a warm environment where risk taking is encouraged’
‘Freedom in a structured (ish) space
‘Laughter’
‘Warmth and love’

Of course there are no right or wrong answers to these questions; they are just prompts to inquire what is possible. Educators should be encouraged to try new things every year, every day, every class period, to see what works and what doesn’t. Some ideas may not work, but that’s okay; taking risks expands you and your students’ experiences. 

We love how open-minded and connected the SAR Academy ELC educators are to each other, and in turn they inspired our team as well to keep designing and evolving. This is why it’s so important that everyone in the education space, no matter their role, keeps focused on the needs of the children and continues communicating and collaborating so that we can keep education moving forward.

Thank you to Alana Gelnick and her team of educators at SAR Academy ELC. Together you have created an incredible learning environment and we wish you an exciting school year ahead full of curiosity and wonder.

To help support schools and educators stay in a place of creativity and excitement about their learning space, and inviting inquiry into what is possible – please reach out to us at naturalpod.com/contact/ if you are interested in taking a workshop!

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