A Reflection on my Time at the NAEYC Annual Conference 2010 in Anaheim
13 Different Workshops. 27 Hours of Training. Networking with the best and brightest in the field. An Exhibit Hall that felt like a toy store for teachers.
I could sum it up like this: The NAEYC Annual Conference changed my entire perspective on the possibilities of my work in Early Childhood Education.
It was so refreshing to be in an environment where thousands of people were just as enthusiastic about working with young learners.
I always knew that there was a group of people out there just as passionate about ECE, but I always felt that I was apart from them, as if I could never find them.
But there they all were, consolidated in one place, bustling in the Anaheim Convention Center, buzzing with the anticipation of learning new things and sharing their findings with each other.
I felt immediately accepted as if I was a child at the first day in school. I was unsure of my surroundings but eager to feel accepted and I didn’t have to try very hard. I asked questions, I introduced myself to people, I exchanged contact information, and I was eager to hear everyone’s stories and experiences. Everyone there also treated me in the same way, wanting to know my background and what I did. It was so easy to make friends because we all understood that we cared very passionately about the same things.
I was also astonished by the level of professional quality by the presenters there. While some sessions were less useful for me than others, every single presenter had very new and practical solutions to issues I faced on a daily basis. The combination of their backgrounds, experiences, and understandings gave me a sense that the field is in this evolutionary period.
We are moving into a period where the high level of quality in ECE is tangible and expected. While our national educational institution is seeking reform and structural changes, the field of early childhood education is seeking to take part in the same kind of reform.
This reformational period results in expecting better performance from teachers and administrators, developing and enhancing available resources for educators, creating a worldwide dialogue about our practices, and making our profession more appealing to attract the best candidates.
I am happy to be a part of this time. I want to be one of those pioneers. I want to be a mover and a shaker. I want to be on the cutting-edge. The NAEYC makes that possible for me.
I was happy to sit in on sessions where some of the brightest teachers and researchers shared their advice and conceptual frameworks. I walked away from those sessions not feeling that I was doing everything wrong (although there were certainly moments when I felt that way), but I felt empowered with new tools I could use in the classroom.
I focused on two subjects at the conference: NAEYC Accreditation and Managing Challenging Behaviors.
In regards to NAEYC Accreditation, I feel that I now have a very specialized understanding of the process and their expectations. I feel that I can walk into a school, and as long as the school has a culture of high expectations and a strong foundation with good leadership, that I can help guide the school to achieving and maintaining accreditation.
In regards to Managing Challenging Behaviors, I don’t even know where to begin. Here is where I had moments of feeling like I had been doing everything wrong for so long. Very innovative people used the leading brain research and understandings to present new frameworks for managing challenging behaviors. The best part about it is that they didn’t overload me with jargon and geek speak. One presenter presented the very complicated concept of connecting left and right prefrontal lobes, with a song and dance using people walking in a line like a mamba dance.
I wish I had that skill.
I had the opportunity to step into some sessions about curricular development too. These were not researchers, they were teachers whose innovative practices brought them fame and a new status amongst other teachers. It gave me a concept of how I should aspire to be as a teacher.
Overall, I can’t talk enough about how happy I was to attend the conference. I feel that all early childhood centers should close down and all attend the conference next year. It would have such a profound impact on the field.
Thank you NAEYC Annual Conference, it was a blast.