M.S. in Education student shares lessons learned from national early childhood education conference

M.S. in Education student shares lessons learned from national early childhood education conference

Cara O’Brien, a student in the M.S. in Education program and a graduate of the Early Childhood Studies program, was one of three students the Early Childhood Studies program sponsored to attend the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s annual conference, which was held virtually in November of 2020. O’Brien shares some reflections on the conference below.

Cara O’Brien, one of the students sponsored to attend the NAEYC Conference in the Fall of 2020.

From the start, I was curious about how the event would unfold in an online format. Like is to be expected with any virtual event in 2020, there were a few hiccups in the system. However, the team’s help desk was great at solving problems quickly and efficiently. Overall, I was satisfied with the content provided and felt like I left the conference with a renewed passion for the field of early childhood education.

Let’s start by revisiting some of my favorite memories from the 2020 NAEYC Annual Conference!

Early Childhood: Where Stories Begin

The introduction was given by the National Teacher of the Year, Tabatha Rosproy. Rosproy is the first early childhood educator to ever receive this title! She is recognized for incorporating her preschool classroom into a retirement community and nursing home. Doing such has benefitted the lives of both young students and senior residents. She believes well-connected children have the best outcomes, and social emotional learning helps with decision making in the future.

Deepening Resiliency Through Social Emotional Learning

This main stage session focused on building resilience through social emotional learning. We understand that relationships matter, and for the more than four million children in the United States living in poverty they are crucial.

In the 1960s, Sesame Street was created to address the needs of racial injustice in our country. Sesame’s Circle of Care aims to do similar work by fostering a community that focuses on high-quality interactions.

Everyone is experiencing hard times right now and it is important that we reach out to one another and care.

Don’t Worry, I’m Saving My Hugs for You

Most early childhood educators enter the field because they love children. This makes it hard when we cannot be together in person, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of these circumstances, many things have changed. For example, we need to be more intentional when building a classroom community.

Even though things are different right now, we must focus on best practice techniques. Children cannot learn from a teacher who does not care about them, now more than ever we need to make these relationships a priority.

Foster Fatherhood Involvement: Strategies for Encouraging Active Engagement

Fatherhood involvement is a topic that I am very interested in. The speakers for this session shared helpful tips and tricks to boost the engagement of fathers in the classroom.

It is important to start by dismantling the perception that dad’s don’t want to be involved in their child’s education. This includes hiring teachers/staff members who can relate to the experience and maintain a father-friendly environment. Educators and families can visit the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse for more information.

Scholastic 100th Year Celebration

One of my favorite events out of the whole conference was Scholastic’s 100th year celebration! I can remember the Scholastic book fairs being the best part of the school year. I loved how interactive the celebration was for the whole family.

Parting Thoughts

There were several additional exciting experiences that shaped my time at the 2020 NAEYC Annual Conference, including winning an online meet-and-greet with Lea Ann Christenson, the author of Strength in Diversity. Stay tuned for more information regarding our chat in the coming weeks! I can’t wait to share more!

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