"I think, at a child's birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity." - Eleanor Roosevelt
Last week, a little alumni student dropped by CHP for a visit. We sat chatting together on the red couch in my office. She noticed the iPad on my desk and asked to see it. Mommy had an iPad at home. There was no time to prepare; this was my first teaching encounter with this "newfangled" device and a child! There is a term used for people born after the invention of certain technological devices. I am a "Digital Immigrant," children born after the advent of certain new devices are known as "Digital Natives." That iPad was on my desk because this "Digital Immigrant" purchased four iPads this summer for all our curious CHP students.
It's not like media and technology is anything new to CHP. I have been introducing "new" technology for many years. When I became the school's director almost twenty years ago, only a few preschools had web sites. (Admitting I am partial, few schools have web sites like ours!) Not too long after my appointment as director, we had our web site and a vibrant parent/school email system followed. There are so many new technological advances and devices at CHP which were not even invented when I was in school! My teachers have had one classroom lap top and this year, they will have two. With that one lap top, teacher guidance, and their imaginations, children did things like chose photos for the menu of the "Cobble Hill Gang Restaurant," make classroom lotto games, and look at images of polar bears, African dancers, and trains around the world.
Last year, I spoke with one of our parents who works with university professors designing systems for their media needs. He kindly lent me a iPad for the teachers to experiment with in the classroom. One day last spring, a grandma dropped off her granddaughter and a little snail. In the wink of an eye, it was time to learn about snails because the children were curious about this little creature. What did it eat? How does it live? Out came the iPad and in a split second, that iPad screen held all the answers. This year, we will have the capacity to project iPad images on the wall, as large as can be.
Getting back to the curious student sitting with me on my red couch, I picked up the iPad and scanned the free Apps I had downloaded when I was experimenting. I wanted to find something on the iPad that might interest her. I zeroed in on Google Earth. In moments, we made the world spin...because the world does spin! We saw how blue the water was that covered so much of the earth. We looked at the United States and then New York and then Brooklyn and then we found her house...and we looked at the things that were sitting on her roof deck! With one finger, I showed her how I walk to school, where the park was and the distance between her house and mine. It was such an amazing experience and it did not end. Her next question was, "Carol, where is Africa?"
Lessons learned? Oh SO many!September 05, 2011 · Categories: Featured
Supporters of a High-Quality and Well-Compensated Early Childhood Workforce
NAEYC accreditation is a really big deal. The accreditation process is arduous, in order for early childhood programs like ours to provide the highest quality in education; it takes a lot of work. Not only do we strive to comply with the NAEYC standards, we also required to compile strict documentation to prove we have met those important NAEYC standards. Every accredited program across the country must meet and maintain these high standards to keep the NAEYC certification.
What you may not know is that the NAEYC also lends its powerful voice supporting the importance of early childhood education to Congress, governors and state legislatures and other policy makers throughout the United States. The NAEYC advocates to help policy makers and public officials understand the benefits of high-quality preschool education. I am devoting this Carol’s Wall to how CHP addresses one of the recommendations made by the NAEYC’s A Call to Action for the 110th Congress: Support a high-quality and well-compensated early childhood workforce.
When I first started at CHP, there was little teacher compensation other than the thrill of working with children every day and a weekly paycheck. There was no health insurance, 401 K plan or money set aside for staff development. It was not until about five or six years ago that CHP was able to provide staff health insurance, a 40l-K plan and provide the funds needed for professional development.
NAEYC accreditation could not have been achieved unless we had an early childhood educated staff and ongoing professional development.
Providing the CHP staff with stellar professional development opportunities has been a wonderful thing. During the year and every summer, my teachers and I take classes and attend conferences. Last month, I completed the 18th and final class for a Children’s Program Administrator Credential (CPAC) from the School of Professional Studies/CUNY Early Childhood Institute. The CPAC is a series of 18 one-credit graduate-level courses in management and leadership in Early Childhood programs which result in a Children’s Program Administrator Credential from New York State.
This winter, Nicole, Juliet, Amanda and I spent an evening at All Souls School for a workshop called The Process of Observation and Recording—New Ways to Problem Solve in Your Classroom. Lessons learned from this workshop were brought back to CHP and shared with the entire staff.
Our entire staff takes workshops through the Continuing Professional Studies (CPS) at Bank Street—Here is a list of some of our Bank Street staff development:
- Working Effectively with your Teaching Team
- Creative Block Building
- Effective Routines and Smooth Transitions in Pre-School Settings
- Play as a tool for Early Intervention
- The Reggio-Emilia Approach: Interpreting Theory and Practice for Schools in the United States
- Supporting Language Development in the Early Childhood Classroom
Amanda, Krishtine and Hilary are also attending graduate school, learning more and more about education every week. Amanda attended a evening lecture by “one of the fathers of modern linguistics” Noam Chomsky this winter too.
Nicole, Juliet, Lori and Amanda are attending a two-day workshop at CUNY City College called—Inside and Outside—Childhood, the Natural World and the Play of Imagining. Nicole and I attended the 2010 Annual NYAEYC Fall Conference and I hope to send more teachers to conferences like this in the future.
Whenever a staff member is able to take advantage of a course of lecture, we use something called a “turn-key” approach. All the materials and pertinent information learned by the attendee are shared with the entire staff at our Friday staff meeting. This way, everyone can benefit from the experience when the lessons learned are introduced in the classroom.March 18, 2011 · Categories: Featured, NAEYC
I would like to share a special letter I received during winter break. I popped into CHP to get the mail, pick up messages and print out a paper for a class. There was quite a bit of mail and tucked within the pile was a handwritten envelope addressed to me. I recognized the name on the return address from an former student of mine, who graduated CHP over ten years ago. Ironically, I had just shown Krishtine a book on squirrels I had made with a class (her class) and commented on her drawing of a squirrel wearing a headband.
I could not imagine what was inside the letter and was very excited to open it.
Within the envelope was a typewritten letter with the heading, LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION. My former student, in her own eloquent words, had written me on behalf of a little friend. Perhaps she babysits for this child or the child is a neighbor or friend, whatever the connection, Lucia made a case for his admission to CHP. She listed all the child’s wonderful qualities and talents and why she thought he belonged in our preschool. The letter closed with her specific recollections of what she did when she was in school and how she wanted her little friend to share her experiences - she remembered and shared those experiences with joy.
I have read the research—a high-quality preschool program stays with a child for the rest of his/her life. The HighScope Perry Preschool Study followed preschoolers for over 40 years. The impact of preschool education on children’s later lives goes far beyond school achievement in important ways.
I did not need a LETTER OF RECCOMMENDATION to remind me that what we do at CHP is important but it did make me very happy. I was taken with the kind and eloquent verbiage and proud that someone I knew, so long ago, felt that her time at CHP was important.
I would like to send out a great big thank you to my old friend Lucia who thought enough of CHP to recommend our little school to the next generation.March 04, 2011 · Categories: Child Development