Each August our staff takes a week to reflect, assess, and prepare for the upcoming school year. Staff development week is a long-standing tradition at SEEC — one that we look forward to, to connect with our colleagues and lay the groundwork for the upcoming year. It is an especially important way to bring the entire SEEC team together. Our school is physically divided into three centers so staff development week makes us feel like one family and helps provide continuity across the program.
Melody Passemante-Powell, director of infant and toddler programs, kicked off the week with a team building presentation. She got the morning started by sharing inspirational quotes about education. This exercise had a deeper purpose though. It helped us see that while everyone believed that the education of young children is important, not all of us had the same perspective of how to achieve that. She used this as a launching point to think about how important it is for us to consider alternative perspectives and not make assumptions when interacting with staff, children, and families.
Anti-Bias, Objects, and Technology
Our team at the Center for Innovation in Early Learning (CIEL) followed with a presentation on anti-bias education. SEEC has always been thoughtful about creating an inclusive learning environment, but with the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture and of course, current events, the issue has grown ever more important. We spent the morning focusing on the anti-bias education framework as outlined by NAEYC and considering it in terms of our unique school model. We concluded our time by asking faculty to begin building a tool that would help us reflect on the anti-bias nature of our classrooms, lessons, and relationships.
CIEL also led the group in an exercise reiterating the importance of connecting our lessons to the museum objects. SEEC believes strongly in facilitating activities and careful looking strategies that connect our lessons to the museum object, and we had fun demonstrating this with our colleagues. Our final CIEL segment was a collaboration with our administrative team that explored technology and early childhood classrooms. The large part of our presentation was thinking as a group about how we feel about technology and how it fits into our school. We are compiling the feedback in the hopes of continuing the dialogue.
Executive Functioning and Early Intervention
We were also lucky enough to have a few guest speakers. Occupational therapist, Judi Greenberg, from Child Development Consultants led us in a great discussion about executive functioning skills. Greenberg reminded us of the importance of executive functioning and helped us think of ways we can help develop these skills in our students. She also reviewed signs that a child might be struggling with executive functioning and ways we can help them. We also had an informative session with DCPS’ Early Stages reminding us of their array of services and the benefits of early intervention. It felt great to know all the ways we can support our families.
Of course there was a lot of time for our faculty to work on preparing our classrooms and they are looking great! Now that it is all wrapped up, we can’t wait for the children to arrive on Tuesday.