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Learning Center Experience
Every year thousands of early childhood educators
gather for the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
Annual Conference. This year was no different with over 20,000 participants
attending the conference from November 7 to November 11 at the Georgia World
Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Faculty members from
the Kaplan University Educational Studies Department had the unique opportunity
to meet, present, and participate in this year’s conference, titled
“Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP) in the 21st Century.” Each faculty
member had different reasons for attending but each left the conference with
new knowledge, new friends, and a collaborative spirit that encouraged them to
share in their own settings across the United States and in their online
classroom environments. The following is a recap from each of these faculty
members explaining their personal experiences from the 2012 NAEYC Annual Conference.
The NAEYC annual
conference was an excellent opportunity for Kaplan University full-time and
adjunct faculty to network with other university faculty and students
throughout the country. Five professors from the Educational Studies Department
had the opportunity to interact and build community with each other and early
childhood professionals from a wide range of states. I particularly found the
presentations I attended on children with special needs and their families very
helpful in advancing my knowledge on how to serve this population. In addition,
I presented “Using Social Stories With Young Children on the Autism Spectrum”
to a group of 42 attendees from a wide variety of professions: early childhood
teachers, special educators, administrators, and social workers. The
participants worked in groups to develop Social Stories and share ideas and
solutions. It was a wonderful opportunity to showcase Kaplan University's
autism courses and faculty. Our faculty members attended the session and were
able to discuss our other courses at Kaplan University which also added to the
discussion. It was a rare event to have five educational studies members from
Kaplan University sharing our expertise and the University's strengths in
educating early childhood professionals in working with young children with
Over the past 25 years,
I have had the pleasure of attending this conference 10 times. Each time, I
return home with a reminder that I am not in it alone. During my time at the
NAEYC conference, I attended many different workshops and presentations and had
the opportunity to attend sessions presented by my colleagues here at Kaplan University
as well as presentations hosted by children’s authors, early childhood experts,
and other early childhood professionals. I was honored to have the chance to
present on “DAP Programs Stem From Highly Qualified Teachers” to a group of
over 30 individuals. In this roundtable session of teachers and directors, we
discussed the impact that professional development has on providing
developmentally appropriate programs to the children we serve.
As one of the five
faculty members in attendance at the NAEYC conference, I had the wonderful
opportunity to co-present with Dr. Lisa Wright on “The E-club: An Online Higher
Education Model for Future Leaders.” Dr. Patti Pelletier, department chair of
the Educational Studies Department, shared via Voice Thread. Dr. William
Strader from the NAEYC Student Interest Forum interacted with the attendees
from his home using Skype. He shared insights about e-clubs and how Kaplan
University is achieving success with our Educator’s Club online platform. Professor
Nancy Moretti attended and joined in on our collaborative groups and discussed
some of the needs and goals for 2013. We also fielded questions about
collaboration and technology use for engagement online. One young lady shared that
she was beginning Kaplan University’s bachelor’s degree program in early childhood
development in March 2013. She also plans to join the Educator’s Club and seek
out leadership opportunities at that time. We are currently preparing for the
2013 Annual NAEYC Conference in Washington from November 20 to November 23,
2013. It promises to be a wonderful opportunity to again network with other
professionals across the country, including Kaplan University instructors and
club members. Just imagine the possibilities for 2013!
The NAEYC conference in
Atlanta was an amazing experience. I had the pleasure of joining my colleagues
to share our experiences and learn from each other. There were teachers and
faculty from across the United States, but I felt that our exceptional
professors were the shining stars. One of these shining stars was Dr. Lisa
Wright’s “Social Stories” presentation. This presentation was one of a kind
because it gave attendees the opportunity to learn from Lisa’s experiences and
to apply what they learned in smaller, collaborative groups. I learned a great
deal to apply to my professional and personal life.
NAEYC has played an
integral part of my life since I completed my master’s degree and started my
teaching career. It has been a goal of mine to attend the conference and I am
thrilled that I had the opportunity. I feel that the “Book and Boogie” workshop
will benefit my teaching the most. Two women who were former teachers presented
this session. These women created a network where they provide ideas and
resources to early childhood educators 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. “Book and
Boogie” shared how teachers can take books and songs and relate these to curriculum
From books to music to
technology and special education, the opportunities were endless. Having the
chance to meet with Kaplan University faculty members was priceless. My hopes
are that we can gather together again at future conferences.
I could not attend the
daytime NAEYC conference, but Professor Verlinda Ruble set up an evening
face-to-face meeting for Kaplan University’s Educator’s Club at a coffee shop
near the NAEYC conference. Through this casual get-together, we had the chance to
meet a Kaplan University student who was attending the conference and hear her
perspective on how Kaplan University was unique. It is a rare treat to be able
to chat in person with many faculty members who live all over the country. The
student took the photo shown above and then several of the professors went to
dinner. The portions were tiny, but the memories were priceless. We “talked
shop” most of the time and shared concerns and ideas for making our courses
even better. Now when I see virtual communication from the professors, I think
of them as I saw them that night and feel an even closer bond. I am grateful
that they were able to gather in one city for the NAEYC conference and that the
Educator’s Club provided an opportunity for students and faculty to have
coffee, catch up, and collaborate.
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