Growing Teachers and Building Memories
After over a year of planning, saving, and dreaming about McKendree’s team of early educators attending the largest early childhood conference in the country, it was time. Time to load the rented van with our excited staff for an unparalleled professional learning and growing experience. We arrived ready to experience something big in Atlanta at the National Association for the Education of Young Children Conference. Over the course of three days, staff selected sessions from over the 600 available. Topics included Arts, Curriculum Theories & Approaches, Family Engagement & Support, Language & Literacy, Professionalism, Leadership & Ethics, Program Administration & Financial Management, Social/Emotional Development, Research, Technology, and more.
One of Lauren’s favorite sessions was, “How to Use Documentation for Curriculum Development, Assessment, and Advocacy”. She reported that she “learned new ideas and got a better understanding.” Danielle loved “Take It Apart: Creating an Environment of Authentic Inquiry and Learning Across All Domains”. This session gave her ideas for promoting self directed learning with real tools. “The children will be so engaged and full of questions.” she predicted. Heather especially enjoyed, “Growth Mindset and Pedagogical Leadership” a session led by our colleagues at UT to help teachers revise, reimagine and redefine their practices in a climate of innovation and change. And Cindy was challenged by “Connecting with Millennial Parents” and “Kale Salad, Laundromats, and Obama”, a session examining cultural competency.
Although the rich learning sessions were an important part of the staff development and growth, time together to share meals, laughter, and experiences was also valuable.
For instance, one evening a group went to dinner and Cindy accidentally left her jacket at the restaurant. She texted those who were still exploring the city and asked if they would pick up the jacket on the way back to the hotel. They complied, with a twist. The jacket ended up accompanying them for an evening out in downtown Atlanta. This crazy group texted photos of the the “adventures” of the jacket encountering wet paint, at city sites, performing karaoke, and meeting new friends.
The Adventures of Cindy’s Jacket is now a legend, born from the team’s shared experiences.