Thursday, March 15, 2012

SOLSC #15 Wisdom from Jacky

I had a real treat this week - attending the Potomac Association of Cooperative Teachers' Spring Conference - and hearing Jacky Howell speak.  Her topic was "Being a Reflective Teacher." I don't know how well this dear woman is known elsewhere in the world, but she was one of the teachers of my early childhood certification course and, since that time, an incredible mentor in my teaching life.

I took a lot of notes, and when I took a moment to look them over, I realized that I had captured inspiration and provocation...important lines from her stories and examples that cut to the heart of her thinking (or how my thinking gels with hers).  I wonder what these snippets would mean to someone not in attendance?  Let me just share some of Jacky's key messages, my "takeaway":

About children:
Right here, right now, be in the moment with the child
Great response to a child’s question – “Let’s find out....”  
Children now have their childhood with us.
What does this look like?
Our environment – is it worthy of our kids?
What is a place and space worthy of our children? 
Are we doing a good job at addressing how boys learn?
Know your kids!!  See who THEY are!

Look at children who are struggling with a healthy curiosity:  I’m curious, I wonder about you.  - Becky Bailey

About curriculum,

Early Childhood Education is changing.  A lot.  For example, having a curriculum with a valid assessment system – this is now a requirement of most major school systems.  What this means for us as teachers:  
there is a lot of work that we have to do that takes us away from the children. 
Much of this planned curriculum teaches the superficial. We are underestimating children; we need to dare to take them deeper.
The best curriculum for learning: the child.  The trappings – "themes."  
Observe what children do with the details. They keep their own agendas!! 
Consider writing a curriculum after it happened - following a child’s lead.  What learning objectives would you hit? 
Elizabeth Jones: Emergent Curriculum.  Plan and let go, plan again, let go again.

What captures children's hearts? Their minds?
What are they trying to figure out?  To understand?

"Try looking the way the child looks, as if always for the first time.Corita Kent  

About us, as early childhood educators,
Picture yourself as someone who is always in the process of learning.
The way we show value is by what we do.  
Do I bring my true self to work?  This is essential in setting up a classroom community.  What is it that is unique to me?  Do my children know?
Keep photographs of your previous classes in photo albums in your book corner; let children know your history. 
What rituals and traditions do I have? 
How do I cultivate a disposition of healthy curiosity and lifelong learning?  (Lillian Katz
Question things! 
Name two people and two places that refill you as a teacher, as a person – What would they be?
Remember the Japanese concept of “kaizen” – the way that we make change is through continuous small steps.

“It is easier to build strong children than repair broken people.”
- Frederick Douglass


  1. Thank you for sharing your notes. Even for someone who did not attend the conference the little snippets provide food for thought. The best thing a teacher can do is to listen and observe the child as she/he goes about discovering oneself and the world. Lucky you to have attended such an inspirational conference.

  2. I also enjoyed the "food for thought" that you shared! These conferences are such a powerful way to keep us on our toes.

  3. "We are underestimating children; we need to dare to take them deeper. "

    This is the one I loved the most...I am not seeing a lot of deeper...I see too much skimming the surface.

    Thank you!

  4. Loved reading this post - so many great sources and such wisdom. Thanks

  5. I'm glad you went and shared - with budget cuts, it's armchair attendance for me! It was interesting to read the snippets and see what resonated with me. So far the assessments I am being asked to use are resourceful and I can do them as I play with the children. I keep my curriculum plans from year to year and laugh because I never do the same thing.
    I take my job of being in the business of childhood very seriously.

  6. "there is a lot of work that we have to do that takes us away from the children." ug... (not ug to the speaker/writer, ug to that concept being a new reality). A lot of great food for thought. I read it and thought the main take away was to be present and authentic.

  7. Very interesting. Hmmm . . .