Sunday, November 17, 2013

Professional Development

Being an early learning educator for almost 10 years now has been a blessing for me. I should have known that it was where I was going when I thought about it and could remember my experiences from playschool. I remember Ms Clark and how she smiled. I remembered not being allowed to go to the park and how much I wanted to ONLY play at the park. I remember playing with the bear family in their little yellow house. I remember the crafts, picture day, and the clock in circle. I should have known I was born to share, create and play.

Now that I am here, a really exciting part of my job is finding people in this profession that breath the same passion as I do. Thankfully, Edmonton offers various conferences and over the weekend I got to go to the Northern Alberta Preschool Teachers Association conference, held at Grant MacEwan. A smaller conference compared to the Teachers convention or the MacEwan Early Learning and Child care conference. This conference was special to me because I volunteer for the board, and I was the one who asked if we could bring Lisa Murphy.

Lisa Murphy is better known as the Ooey Gooey Lady®. I first saw her on Facebook and was fascinated by her hands on process art and experiences. As I became more drawn in by her, I discovered she was an inspiration and mentor.

Lisa doing her Key Note
Because I wanted Lisa so badly, my board was so kind to let me introduce her, so I was able to sit in on all of her presentations. Lisa's key note was called "What if today was their only day."

The question is powerful, and is a great thing to think about as I drive to work every day. What if today was the last day your child came to playschool? What would they leave thinking about? Being thankful for?
It was very motivating to make sure I remember why I got into this career and how to make it more inspiring than the simple ABC's and 123's. While the concepts I teach during circle are fun, and the predictability and routine is comforting, when it comes to playschool experiences - it ALL needs to be fun, comforting, inspiring and motivatings. 

Lisa Suits up
Lisa told various stories in her key note. From her first day at playschool, to her experiences working with children. How humans are not simple, they are not easy and they do not fit on a program plan. In class I may plan to spend time doing craft, but sometimes a moment happens and you go with it. You decide that the spontaneous building of a huge structure from blocks together is more creative than my programmed plan for the children. That the game they love, and want to do again, is worth doing again and being 5 minutes late for circle.

I love the comfort in knowing that every year I will have the girl who loves the babies, and the child who asks why, and the child who beats to their own drum. And although, sometimes you have a plan, sometimes you go off the paper, or you let that one child do what they need to do in order to enjoy their "only day" at playschool.

Lisa also brought up an important topic when it comes to getting to know my playschool families - Trust.
Would you give me the keys to your house? Would you give me the keys to your car?
Parents come in every day and leave the most IMPORTANT person(s) in their lives to me. These children are worth walking through fire, they are worth fighting for. I believe it, I understand it and I empathize with it. I am a lucky woman to have the trust of so many people. And if you agree with me, but don't know if you fully "trust"  me, please take the time to get to know me, approach me and speak with me till you say "Yes - you have my trust Ms Asha."
When Capilano Playschool interviewed me, they believed in my education, my experience and my intentions when it came to program planning for the children. When parents decided to enroll in Capilano Playschool, and read our philosophy and our program plan, they are beginning a trusting relationship with us. That is so important. It is a powerful thing, and I really enjoyed the comfort in knowing our community is based on trust.

The first work shop  was Identifying and creating child centered environments. It reminded me how much I love offering the children a safe environment that speaks to them. It is open and inviting, letting the children have areas for them that is age appropriate. It creates confidence when we allow them to use scissors, and help themselves to craft materials. It is a place that offers comfort with soft couches and pictures of their families. Our classroom creates connection, using materials we can find in everyday life such as real cooking utensils and drift wood in the sandbox and rocks in the block center.

After, our second workshop was Fizzle Bubble pop and wow! It was so much fun to get my hands on the original reason I began to follow the Ooey Gooey girl.


Sharpe tie dye

 Baking soda, vinegar and food colouring

Shaving cream

You will not pop a balloon if you stick the pin through the tape

Did you know the first stage of print is dots? When children BANG with art materials they are getting ready to write mom or dad. Did you know + and x  in children's art are not T's and X's but shapes? They are exploring shapes to begin to write their name. Did you know art and creative expressions are about the process not the product? Did you know there are 80 stages of scribbling before they write?!Art is so important to people at various ages. Thankfully, it is something we spend a lot of time experiencing in our playschool classroom.
 In this workshop we got to get our hands on and use art to explore science.

I love learning about the early stages of printing, and the therapeutic experiences children go through when doing art and creative expessions.

The workshop I was very excited to finish with was The Importance of Early Experiences! Playing is school readiness! Coming out of school, and having so much experience with children already gives me confidence to agree that Kindergarten readiness comes from facilitating confidence, independence and interest through play.
Lisa explains the foundations for early learning, the cement that lays to let the children build their academic mansions comes from daily experiences in our classroom involving create, discuss, move, observe, sing and read, which can all be experienced during Play.

It was really reaffirming to what I feel I already knew, already do, and already want to offer the children everyday at school. I'm so proud of our program, and will continue to reflect to ensure the children always get what they deserve. Play is not a privilege, its a right and it is the right of the child.

I look forward to my next Professional development event, and hope to share more of the information I learn.
Please enjoy the handouts from the conference plus MORE!

Here is a list of workshop discriptions

Here is Lisa Muphy's social networking sites, I encourage you to follow her. It is so inspiring!

Ms Asha

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