The June 2013 issue of Teaching Young Children (TYC) features a Q&A about teachers and cell phones. NAEYC Author Holly Elissa Bruno (What You Need to Lead an Early Childhood Program: Emotional Intelligence in Practice) also adds her thoughts about teachers using their personal cell phones in the classroom. What are your thoughts on teachers having cell phones in the classroom? Does your program have a policy on personal cell phone use?
Q: Dear Director Danni,
My coworkers and I often use our smartphones as resource tools. Although our program policy requires teachers to leave their smartphones in the staff room, I think we’re missing out. We could use the phones to capture the children in action, play new songs, email photos of children to theirfamilies, and more. How can we work with our director to make smartphones a tool in the classroom?
A: Dear Inquiring Teacher,
I agree that smartphone technology is wonderful! In the classroom, you can use it to document class projects and children’s developmental milestones; deliver literature, music, and other content in new ways; and communicate quickly with families—both with words and images. And, of course it lets you keep in constant touch with friends!
Oh, wait. That last one is the problem, isn’t it?
People are used to texting, posting, and calling at all times. Sometimes they can’t resist the temptation to do it while at work. I’ll bet you know at least one colleague with this problem. Such minor but frequent distractions are harmful to a safe and productive classroom environment. It’s also hard to monitor. Frustrated directors have responded with blanket prohibitions on personal phones in the classroom.
Here’s another problem: It is not appropriate for teachers to use their personal smartphones to record children in the classroom. There are confidentiality issues related to pictures, video clips, and emails on personal devices. For example, you might accidentally share a child’s photo on a social networking site that would probably make families uncomfortable - and should concern you, too.
Besides, I think programs—not individual staff—should carry the cost of all equipment used for teaching and learning. If smartphone technology brings good tools to the classroom, then the program needs to invest in those tools. Ask your director if the program can purchase tablets for each classroom. They have the same functionality as smartphones (except for the phoning) and can be setup to support communications from the program’s email address. Tablet prices are coming down rapidly. Even if your director looked at this option a few months ago, have him or her look again.
What are your thoughts on teachers having cell phones in the classroom? Does your program have a policy on personal cell phone use?
With so much to see and do, attending the NAEYC Annual Conference & Expo can be both exciting and daunting! To make the most of your experience, it’s important to have a game plan. Here are some tips* for what to do before, during, and after the conference. We want to hear from you, too, so share your tips below.
Before the Conference
Decide what you want to get from the conference and what your goals are.
Use the Itinerary Planner to prepare your schedule. Think about: the topics most relevant to your work, the sessions that address your professional development needs, and which special events you want to attend. Include time to explore the Exhibit Hall, network with others, and explore Washington DC.
Need to document your conference attendance to meet program or state requirements? Find out in advance what is required so you can get credit for participating.
Plan to attend the Newcomer’s Orientation session, on Thursday morning, if this will be your first time at the conference.
Decide how you will organize the information and handouts you’ll collect at the conference.
Pack business cards or address labels with your contact information to share with all the new colleagues you’re going to meet.
Pack comfortable clothes and shoes. Leave enough room in your suitcase to carry your materials and purchases home, or plan to mail them back.
During the Conference
Dress in layers so you can stay comfortable.
Get as much out of the sessions as possible.
Ask questions, respond to presenters, and get clarification if there’s something you don’t understand.
Take part in small group activities and discussions.
Talk to other attendees and share your contact information to stay in touch after the conference.
Give yourself plenty of time to explore the Exhibit Hall. Carry water and snacks with you. Know that some men’s restrooms will be converted to women’s restrooms in the convention center to accommodate the large number of female participants. Male attendees should find out early where the “nonconverted men’s rooms” are.
If you have a problem and don’t know how to solve it, go to the NAEYC Conference Headquarters (Room 102B, Washington Convention Center) for assistance.
Pace yourself so that you have almost as much energy by the end of the conference as you had at the beginning.
After the Conference
Take time to unwind and decompress!
Catch up on your responsibilities at work and at home before planning how you’ll share what you’ve learned.
Organize your handouts, business cards, and notes.
Make copies of handouts to share with colleagues.
*Includes ideas from an article that appeared in the September 2005 issue of Young Children on pages 68-71, by Margaret A. McGuire.
How do you prepare for the NAEYC Annual Conference? What tips do you have for maximizing your conference participation? How do you share information with colleagues when you return home?
Superhero Play has been in the news recently. We're very excited about the upcoming book, Beyond Remote-Controlled Childhood: Teaching Young Children in the Media Age, by Diane Levin being published by NAEYC.
The book addresses many topics related to children and media consumption. In one chapter the author offers guidance for teachers on how to address issues that might arise when children engage in superhero play in the classroom. Here's an excerpt:
Share With Families How You Address Media and Technology and Why
If you have a regular newsletter or blog for your classroom, or your school sends out newsletters or other regular communication to families, create a feature about media and technology issues. For instance, you can include the following:
- What media and technology you use in the classroom and how and why you use it
- How you help children process specific content issues from the media that they bring into the classroom—for example, through art, play, or discussion
- Media issues that come up in your setting that are cause for concern
Tell parents about media-related topics and concerns that come up in the classroom with their own children as well as with the class as a whole. Describing your concern and how and why you are addressing it models strategies families might use at home. For example, if you describe specific rules and routines—such as deciding with the children that they can play superheroes outside but not inside - families may be inspired to try similar strategies at home.
Have you addressed superhero play in the classroom? Have you shared information about your approach with families? Share your experiences below.
|Isauro Michael Escamilla, M.A., an Early Childhood Education Teacher Researcher from the San Francisco Unified School District, spoke at the closing session of NAEYC’s Institute for Professional Development in San Francisco last year. We are pleased to be able to share a particularly moving excerpt below.|
I Dream of the Day
by Isauro Michael Escamilla, M.A.
I dream of the day when all the schools are designed keeping in mind that these spaces are for active, inventive, creative children, full of life.
I dream of the day when all the schools include a school yard garden and when all the children are served fresh, organic, healthy foods, three times a day.
I dream of the day when parents are given enough time to bond with their newborn children without the fear of losing their jobs or a paycheck.
I dream of the day when all teachers and home care providers get the training they need, the financial compensation they should have and the respect they deserve.
I dream of the day when bilingual children are given credit for preserving their home language and culture, instead of being placed in special education classes under the assumption that they suffer from a language delay.
I dream of the day when young children are given the opportunity to express their knowledge and understanding not only through the spoken language, but also through the language of painting, drawing, music, movement, poetry, sculpture, photography and many other languages.
I dream of the day when education in the early years is a memorable, enjoyable, exciting experience for children and their families.
I dream of the day when schools are the place where children, families, and educators see themselves as both teachers and learners with the power to both acquire and generate new knowledge.
I dream of the day when schools for young children are considered cocoons, where creativity finds its wings, and where no child is bullied for being different.
I know that if we work together, today is the day when we can start making some of these dreams come true.
What are your dreams?
We hope you'll share your dreams by posting a comment below.
This post is from authors Amy Laura Dombro, Judy Jablon, and Charlotte Stetson.
We’ve been very excited about readers’ responses to our book, Powerful Interactions: How to Connect with Children to Extend Their Learning, published in 2011. Shortly after the book came out, we received emails through our website from early childhood program directors, teachers, and others wanting to use Powerful Interactions in book groups. They asked us to post study group questions on our website. We organized the questions around the three steps of Powerful Interactions: Be Present, Connect, and Extend Learning. Members of study groups have told us that they read sections of the book at each group meeting and then use the questions to guide discussion and sharing.
A Strengths-Based Approach
In our book we talk about the value of “instant replay.” Although this process is not actually “instant,” the purpose of this term is to convey that using photos and video lets you focus on your actions and words to reflect on your interactions in greater detail. We encourage study groups to come prepared to try this practice during their meetings. It is so much easier to notice the little details of what you say and do when you can actually look at them carefully with colleagues.
We emphasize using a strengths-based approach when talking about photos and videos. Focusing on strengths allows teachers to become more consciously competent about what they do well. In addition, when group members work together, they notice strategies that others do well that they haven’t ever tried before. Sometimes people ask: “What about talking about what you didn’t do well?” The fact is that we perform many actions without knowing that we’re doing them. Focusing on strengths is more motivating than looking at deficits. Moreover, it models what we believe about working with children. Focus on strengths and build upon them! Here’s how “I notice” statements work:
• “I notice that the teacher is smiling. Her warm and friendly expression helps the child feel safe and secure.”
• “I notice that the teacher is at the same eye level as the child. This promotes respect.”
• “I notice that the teacher and the child are both laughing. Shared or ‘mirrored’ affect or emotion strengthens the relationship between them.”
Mirror Talk and Using Rich Vocabulary Instead of Quizzing
We’ve also encouraged study groups to practice two Extend Learning strategies—Mirror Talk and Use Rich Vocabulary—by talking about photographs in the book Powerful Interactions or about photographs they have taken in their own classrooms.
Study group members look at photos that depict children and teachers together in the classroom and discuss how the teachers in the photos could use mirror talk (commenting on what the child is doing) in a way that incorporates rich vocabulary.
Example 1: Study group members look at a photo of a teacher sitting beside a child who is painting. They discuss Mirror Talk a teacher in a similar situation could try such as: “I see you are using your paintbrush to make long, wavy strokes.” (The first part of the sentence is the mirror talk. ‘The words, “Long wavy strokes” are the rich vocabulary).
Example 2: Study group members look at another photo in which a teacher sits beside a child building with magnetic tiles. They discuss Mirror Talk a teacher in a similar situation could try such as: "You have put together four triangles of different colors to create a square.” (Here “You have put together” is the mirror talk, and the word “create” “triangles” and “square” are the rich vocabulary.)
Many teachers say that they are quick to jump to quiz questions (questions that have one short answer, such as “What color is this?” or “How many bears do you have?”) when talking with children instead of using Mirror Talk. Some say that “Mirror Talk” is a hard habit to form. Others joke that asking quiz questions is a hard habit to break!
Reflecting on Videos
One study group decided to use videos as a major part of their work. During an initial session together, they watched video clips of children playing alone. They discussed what they might have to think, say, and do to be present and connect with each of these children if they were to join them.
- If they paused to observe for a moment before joining the child, what might they be thinking and feeling based on what they saw the child doing?
- What were some different ways they might join a child and connect?
o Smiling and saying hi
o Greeting the child by name
After a few sessions, they began experimenting with being videotaped and videotaping each other. Using a strengths-based approach, they analyzed the videos, looking for the three steps of Powerful Interactions. They also considered other strategies that could have been used. At the close of the study group, each member wrote a personal commitment statement about the strategy they would work on during the next month.
Study Groups in Action
The Professional Development Institute at City University of New York (CUNY) organized a four-session study group series for directors and providers from sites around New York City. We created a guide for them to use that includes four key ideas from the book. Each section of the guide has discussion questions, a small group activity for reflection, and then a suggestion to bring back to their setting for practice.
The staff at The Children’s Museum in Indianapolis read the book together as the basis of discussion about how to facilitate responsive and extraordinary interactions among the families who visit.
Another colleague, Marilyn Brink at NatureStart Program in Chicago (a program of the Chicago Zoological Society) has incorporated Powerful Interactions in her organization’s work. She recently shared with us that she will be teaching a week-long course at the zoo and using Powerful Interactions as the “perfect resource for supporting their ‘Talking With Young Children’ component.”
The leader of one Connecticut study group asked another teacher in the group why Powerful Interactions are important to her. She replied, “Powerful Interactions are a catalyst for creating a great learning environment.”
We’d love to hear from you about how you’ve used the book. Have you formed a study group to discuss Powerful Interactions? How did it go? How are Powerful Interactions important for you?