NAEYC Annual Conference 2015

By Brianna Kirby, Teacher

Bing Nursery School administrators and teachers were among the presenters at the 2015 National Association for the Education of Young Children’s annual conference. The gathering provides educators, researchers and administrators from across the country the opportunity to learn from one another about current studies, strategies and successes in the world of early learning and development of young children. This past November’s gathering, in Orlando, Florida, offered hundreds of presentations, exhibits and discussions highlighting topics such as understanding exclusionary play, fostering resilience in young children and supporting dual-language learners in the classroom. As a first-time attendee, I appreciated the opportunity to explore topics presented by a myriad of early childhood professionals, as well as attend presentations given by our own Bing experts.

Head teachers Nandini Bhattacharjya and Parul Chandra participated in a poster session at the conference. Titled “Potential of the Learning Environment: Enhancing and Integrating Creative Thinking in Young Children,” their poster highlighted Bing’s dynamic indoor and outdoor classroom, emphasizing the importance of intentionally designing a space that fosters curiosity and creativity. Through photos, Bhattacharjya and Chandra shared children’s work with the basic and open-ended materials: blocks, clay, paint, sand and water. Additionally, the poster provided images of woodworking and ideas for recycled or “found” items to offer children as design materials for their creative expression.

Mark Mabry, a head teacher at Bing, and Isabel Baker, owner of the online children’s bookstore The Book Vine for Children, presented on the benefits of re-reading stories aloud to young children, as well as the key characteristics to look for when choosing a children’s story book. In their presentation, “Read It Again! Repeated Read-alouds of Children’s Books Inspire Emergent Literacy Experiences,” Mabry and Baker noted the positive impact of revisiting storybooks with children in order to enhance their interest in and capacity for reading and writing. With repeated exposure, children not only begin to identify distinctions between the images and the text, but they also increase their visual awareness, cognitive connections, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Mabry spoke about the richness, complexity and conventions of the written language as distinct from what we hear in conversation, such that “book language is not constrained by the here and now.” Mabry and Baker emphasized that rhyme, rhythm and repetition in children’s books entice and engage early readers. Captivating illustrations, along with a thoughtful narrative, draw children into the world of literature and spark a growing curiosity for the written word.

Bing’s director, Jennifer Winters, and associate director, Beth Wise, gave an inspiring presentation to more than 200 people on how to best support a staff of educators. In their talk, “How to Develop Highly Creative Teams: What Administrators Need to Know to Ignite Passion, Purpose and Commitment in Your Organization,” Bing’s director and associate director shared their own trajectories as leaders and offered numerous skills and insights they have gained along the way. Winters and Wise discussed essential facets of effective leadership, including teamwork, authenticity, adaptability, communication and appreciation. They outlined each of their 11 tenets on leadership with specific examples, practical advice and a sprinkling of personal reflection. The underlying thread binding each tenet: Be present. Be open. Be reflective. Winters and Wise encouraged attendees to ask themselves frequently and honestly: How do I contribute to this? What is my role? Even as directors and leaders, Winters and Wise invited colleagues not only to teach, but also to practice identifying and owning one’s role as a team member in order to build a strong, cohesive unit. As a member of the teaching staff at Bing, I felt a great sense of pride and gratitude for the commitment, intentionality and investment of our administrators.