Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Early Childhood Education is a Sacred and Responsible Undertaking

It is with great appreciation that I had the opportunity to attend the 50th anniversary of the ECEC in Edmonton last week and I thank Clearview School Division’s ECE Coordinator for generously offering each Kindergarten teacher the opportunity to do so.

Thursday evening’s keynote speaker, author Todd Parr, introduced us to a few new projects that he is working on as well as a few beloved favourites. He entertained us with his simple message surrounding being present with little ones and giving back, reminding us of how important our words are. The rest of the evening was made up of little art project workshops and a time to just sit and connect with other teachers.

Friday morning brought us breakfast and more connecting through conversations, followed by the dynamic, engaging, albeit very real, Dr. Jean Clinton, who offered us her present view on early childhood today with yet again, a reminder of connection and relationships being the key. Much of what Dr. Jean spoke to, was about remembering that Kindergarten should be play-based driven. Of course it should.

It has been many years since I worked through the Reggio movement in Education and I am grateful to have studied the 100 Languages of Children. I decided it was important to me, at this point in my career, to revisit the value of documentation specifically tied to pedagogy and so I attended a presentation on just that. I am grateful for the opportunity to meet with many teachers who are using online methods to document children’s learning and have begun to use Seesaw®.

Friday evening we gathered as a group of KinderTeachers from our district, and enjoyed a meal together and I feel fortunate to have been gifted this opportunity to just be… together.

The topic of Saturday morning’s keynote address, by Dr. Phil McRae, was packed full of information on growing up in a digital age and what we, as educators, can do to support parents who are being bombarded with “shoulds” and “must haves”. His topic, “The Internet of Me: Connecting in an Age of Hyper-Connectivity”, offered me more hope than I had originally thought.

I ended the conference with 3 Cups of Tea in Community and enjoyed yet another look at how a group of people honour early childhood. This particular session was about ECE in New Zealand.

“The responsibility of community to raise our children well is a sacred one.” Serena Chouinard. So sacred, so responsible that at times it is quite frightening. And yet, just when I question how huge an undertaking it is, someone comes along and reaffirms why I do what I do. On the Monday after the conference a former KinderKid of mine, now in grade 10, joined my current Kindies for a block of time to work through a project. At the end of the day she said to me, “Mrs. Schaffner, I’ve known you, like forever, and we’ve all changed, but you? You’re still the same Kindergarten teacher as always.” Pretty cool eh?

~ Ellyn

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