Through personal stories and anecdotes, Erica depicted how, beginning at early ages, conversations around difference are vitally important for our children’s development. Erica relied on the theme, “They notice—they just don’t have all the facts,” to shape her address to educators from across the region.
In addition, PK1 teachers Cindy Gunja and Iesha Myhand presented a workshop entitled, “Building Foundations for Positive Identity Development During the Foundational Years.” The workshop reflected Cindy’s and Iesha’s explorations of the state of race relations in our country and what we can do to address the topic in age-appropriate ways in early childhood settings.
Finally, early childhood science teacher and Director of Environmental Sustainability Sam Mason led a workshop entitled, “Early Childhood Outdoor Education and Sustainability.” Sam discussed best practices, ideas, and tips for taking students outside in a meaningful way. He engaged his audience and rallied them to consider outdoor classroom management, fostering a love of nature, creating an ideal outdoor learning space, and gaining faculty and staff buy-in.
Other conference topics this year included using art to strengthen a classroom community; using children's literature to support children in addressing issues they may face, such as family dynamics, different cultures, and friendship; balancing technology use in the early childhood classroom; and reviewing research and strategies to improve instruction, assessments, and differentiation in early childhood math.
We are grateful to Erica Thompson, Cindy Gunja, Iesha Myhand, and Sam Mason for representing St. Patrick’s so powerfully in support of best practices for our youngest learners.