Tonya Lee Byrne: Every moment is a teaching moment

Year: 2019 — Province: Alberta
Certificate of Achievement Recipient

Tonya Lee Byrne

St. Monica Catholic Elementary School
Early learning school for children 4 to 5 years
Edmonton, Alberta

"I am happy to say that after [my son's] first month in [Tonya's] program, I could see changes. … His confidence only grew as the year progressed. I have no doubt that it was Tonya's warm, caring and fun approach that helped [my son] feel comfortable and in a safe place to be himself."
— Parent

Tonya Byrne makes every moment in kindergarten a teaching moment. Following the Reggio approach, she creates open and inviting learning environments, full of children's creativity and ideas. She is a leader and mentor in the school, and regularly shares her knowledge with colleagues across Alberta.

Philosophy of care

With a competency-based approach that values well-rounded development, Tonya firmly believes that every child is a capable learner and uses their own interests to help them develop. She takes great care to know her students so she can capitalize on their strengths and help them overcome their challenges.

Support of child development

  • Creatively integrates curriculum with student interests: a squid photo became a prompt for journaling and observation about the ocean, and was followed by looking at squid under a microscope; coding a BeeBot map of Africa helped children find out more about the animals there, complemented by part of the classroom being converted into an African mud hut.
  • Celebrates student work by displaying and encouraging children to express their ideas and demonstrate their learning through developmentally appropriate activities, including writing, drawing (even scribbles) and other creations.
  • Fosters acceptance and community in the classroom: the unit on Africa was inspired by having children who had emigrated from various African countries in her class; teaching sign language stemmed from realizing that children could then better communicate with a friend who signs.

Involvement with parents, families and the community

  • Created classroom Instagram account to communicate with parents and document daily learning.
  • Pursues social justice initiative with the children: their questions led them to write a letter to the mayor about reducing plastic use, and then to develop and sell a colouring book to raise money for SeaLegacy to fund efforts to clean up plastic in the oceans.
  • Builds relationships with families: hosts a park day in the summer to touch base with former students and give them encouragement as they get ready for the next school year.
  • Values skills and abilities of parents and welcomes them into the classroom to share what they know with the children, including eye care (optometrist) and fire safety (firefighter).

Get in touch!

St. Monica Catholic Elementary School
14710 53 Avenue NW
Edmonton AB T6H 4C6

Instagram: @reggioinspiredclassroom

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