Primary school teacher Constanza Micaela La Grotteria is passionate about early years education. She works tirelessly to promote the value of this phase in a child’s school journey within the education sector and society at large. Her professional teacher training was completed in Spain, where she has since worked for over a decade. Yet her experience of teaching began back in her home country of Argentina, where she volunteered in schools for disadvantaged children. When the national economic collapse of 2002 forced her and her family to emigrate to Italy, she continued to find ways to fulfill her dream of teaching. She taught Italian classes for foreigners and Spanish classes for adults, created a scout group for Latin American children, studied at the University of Genoa, and later, qualified to teach in schools.
An advocate of Montessori and Emilia Reggio techniques, Constanza Micaela would like to extend these practices into mainstream schools. In line with these pedagogical disciplines, she curates carefully designed learning spaces to stimulate her students’ curiosity, observation and exploration. She uses art, music and literature to motivate their creativity and freedom. Her classrooms are safe spaces, where children are encouraged to give feedback and share opinions with their peers. Despite their young age, she designs individual objectives for her students and encourages their families to get involved so they feel part of the teaching and learning process.
Fundamental to Constanza Micaela’s approach is her philosophy of education for peace, with respect as the basis of learning. This led her to develop her Schools for Peace project, which promotes democracy, peace, tolerance and social justice. The project has been hugely successful – initially adopted by neighboring schools in Valencia, today it has a global impact, with participating schools across Spain and Latin America. Other projects, including one focusing on racism, have also been received positively, and led to her being awarded Best Early Childhood Education Teacher in Spain in 2018. Further awards include First Prize for Schools for Peace, Siena Group, 2020; Finalist in Best Experience Education for Peace, Teaching Newspaper, 2019; and First Prize in the Infant School Magazine Award, Literacy Project, 2019. Constanza Micaela has published many blogs, journals and books on respect and race in the classroom, and has conducted TED talks and webinars. As well as regularly explaining her educational ideas across a broad range of media, she is a columnist for Magisterio newspaper and also participates in many online forums to promote early years education.
If she wins the Global Teacher Prize, Constanza Micaela would fund training and help more schools deliver Schools for Peace. She would also launch a website with resources to support the development and take-up of her theories, and provide scholarships to encourage more committed teachers into early years education. Finally, she would create family education spaces where children can learn in high-quality, nurturing environments.