Connecting Professional Development Experiences with Our Day-to-Day Work with Children
Educators at The Nest are very busy preparing for next month’s NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) annual conference in Atlanta, as well as the pre-conference, Project Infinity-sponsored “Tour of Schools” in which we will participate. The pre-conference “Tour of Schools” is designed especially for educators who are interested in learning more about how the schools of Reggio Emilia influence different American schools; The Nest will present a “video tour” of our environment during the pre-conference “Tour of Schools”.
We recognize that the parents at The Nest are making sacrifices to find alternative child care during the week of NAEYC while we attend and present at the conference, and we have such gratitude for their support! We cannot thank our parents enough for appreciating our investment in intensive, ongoing professional development in our never-ending effort to make The Nest the BEST place it can be for children, their families, and the educators who dedicate their professional lives to our youngest children.
We have been working on two important presentations for the week of NAEYC:
- a presentation entitled “Opening the Doors: Rethinking Boundaries in Infant and Toddler Care” which Mandy, Teresa, and I will present at the NAEYC conference on Thursday morning
- an identity presentation (including a “visual tour” of the school) which we will share at the preconference, Project Infinity-sponsored “Tour of Schools”
Developing these presentations is a great deal of work but it is work that we embrace for all that it teaches us about what it means to work alongside children and families in real, authentic, meaningful ways.
We know that many people likely wonder why The Nest has chosen to participate in a time-intensive endeavor like Project Infinity; actually we, as educators, wonder that sometimes ourselves, particularly when we are in the midst of deadlines connected to the Project! But then we start working on Project-related work and we are reminded how these “challenges” that have been issued by an entity beyond the doors of our school enrich us professionally and, as a result, improve the overall quality of the school in ways that are meaningful, tangible, and real. For example, this year we have been “challenged” through the Project to observe how children encounter seasons and the changing of the seasons. With this in mind, we look at ongoing experiences we have with children in fresh light. We see how the hatching of the ladybugs – a seasonal event that happens at the end of the summer – connects children to the natural world. We see how the beautiful color of the changing leaves builds children’s awarenesses of color in exciting, authentic ways. We make extra efforts to visit The Urban Farm with children so that they can see how garden plots change with the seasons. We take the time to watch the squirrels as they collect acorns and bury them on our playground, and then we contribute our own collected acorns as “surprises” for the squirrels. Without the “challenge” from the Project to pay attention to seasons as an aspect of children’s daily lives, we run the risk of missing it entirely. And what a shame that would be! The changing of the seasons is, some would argue, a miraculous occurrence and when children first encounter it with awareness, their experiences are a wonder to behold. When they first notice that a tree has magically turned from green to red, it is something like a miracle! What a shame if we, as adults, missed these moments of wonder and awe because we were so engrossed with day-to-day drudgery. Thankfully, children will remind us in a hundred small and big ways of the beauty of the world around us and our work with Project Infinity reminds us to pay attention to children’s joys and discoveries which, in turn, reminds us to look at our lives with joy and a spirit of discovery.