“Watching and Wondering” is an interactive exploration of the connections between observation and documentation in preschool classrooms. Both theory (the “why”) and practical tips (the “how”) will be covered through group discussion and hands-on opportunities. Workshop attendees will have the opportunity to identify moments of wonder in their own practice as well as reflecting on moments of wonder experienced by their students. In addition they will collaborate with colleagues on ways to enrich those experiences of wonder by offering new explorations and opportunities in the ongoing cycle of learning.
Spotlight on Lunch and Learn Session with Samantha Shannon
Samantha has been working with children and families since 2013. She currently works with young toddlers at Branches Community School. She is inspired by the Reggio philosophy of seeing teachers as researchers. Her classroom is a space where she, her co-teacher, and the children find joy at the intersections of their interests in and questions about the world. When she's not in the classroom, you can find her in her hammock at the Eno River.
Workshops Description: An Accessible and Autonomous Studio
Are you excited about creating art experiences with young children that foster their exploration of and creativity with materials? Do you feel frustrated when your vision of an experience doesn't align with what the children have in mind? Let's talk about it! In this workshop, Samantha will introduce the philosophy behind the atelier spaces in Reggio Emilia schools, provide examples from her classroom of how she translates those concepts into her context, and give space for participants to discuss their successes and challenges in creating meaningful art experiences for young children. Art materials will be provided for participants to experiment with and explore.
Lunch and Learn Session: Anti-Racist Teaching in Early Childhood Education
Research shows that children notice racial differences by six months and express racial bias by age three (Winkler, 2009). For educators, acknowledging our own unconscious biases and talking explicitly about race with young children can feel uncomfortable and scary. If we are committed to fostering exploration, connection, and growth in our classrooms, we also need to commit to thinking about, talking about, and acting upon the realities of racism so that children can become capable and competent agents in their own learning.
Join in conversation with other educators who are seeking to do this work and talk about the importance and the challenges of addressing race and racism in early childhood education. Samantha, a white educator, will facilitate the conversation by asking guiding questions and provide resources for further reading.
Learn about attachment theory and how it can be applied to peek-a-boo play during this workshop. Discover ways of creating unique and fun games to take back to your classroom, explore a variety of peek-a-boo books for children 0-3, and examine a case study of a toddler classroom that uses peek-a-boo play and learn how the teachers helped the students become securely attached to their caregivers in order to build a strong sense of identity.
Think of an activity you offer regularly in your classroom (drawing, reading, writing, blocks, painting). How could you move it outside? What help would you need? In this workshop we will explore the endless possibilities of encouraging learning and exploration outside the classroom. We will delve into the roadblocks that keep you from doing more outside while also exploring questions you have about how to maximize the time spent outside. While spending some of the workshop outside ourselves, we will explore and articulate specific ways to take learning outdoors.
In this lunch and learn session, participants will share and explore ways that early childhood educators design intentional instruction and deliberate opportunities for children to learn and practice empathy, gratitude, and kindness. Beyond ‘random acts’, the goals of this dialogue are to deepen our awareness of children’s capacities for engaged social emotional learning and actions, and for participants to develop specific strategies for designing and implementing intentional curriculum around kindness and inclusive community membership.
Holding a strong image of the child, we choose to embrace the toddler’s natural inclination for adventure and risk. We challenge the assumptions of what experiences we can offer to toddlers, how we can allow them to fully explore their environment and the ways in which we can introduce a variety of materials. Learn how we have designed both the indoor and outdoor classroom to nurture these experiences. Explore what this looks like in our group setting of toddlers and young preschoolers and share how you too can embrace these experiences in your program.
An almost universal truth is that young beings love to play; this includes humans as well as other animals! In fact, play is a crucial part of appropriate development in children. The natural world offers abundant opportunities for play. Why is outdoor play important, and how can we, as educators and parents, give children ample and appropriate opportunities to play outside?
The birthday child would get a crown and be sworn in as King or Queen for the day. I never thought too much about the titles chosen. That was until one of my students shared that they didn’t feel like they wanted to be either of those choices. They felt like they would like to be a royal dragon for the day.
This was an eye-opening event in my teaching career. If I really wanted to develop a classroom where everyone felt like they had a voice I needed to be more flexible in my thinking.