Educator Discussion Series

What is it?

Each year, we are pleased to offer a series of workshops facilitated by guest speakers that explore a variety of subjects. The range of topics is geared toward early childhood educators, but would also be of interest to parents and families of young children, and to elementary age educators. The format for discussions is interactive, with facilitators and participants engaged in dialogue around the selected topic.

Educator Discussion Series All Day Events

Using Learning Stories for Reflection and Assessment

More than just a tool or a format, Learning Stories are part of a philosophy for pedagogy and assessment, with a huge international following. Grounded in socio-cultural theory and formative assessment, the Learning Story approach honors the child, family, teacher and community. Using Learning Stories, educators can write from the heart, in a way that engages children and families, while also integrating required assessment indicators.

At this workshop, participants will gain understanding of the philosophy and key elements of the Learning Story Approach, explore many uses of Learning Stories, and practice analyzing stories that enhance child, family and educator identity. Working in small groups throughout the day, participants will have the opportunity for facilitated conversations to explore the implications of Wendy’s workshop for their own setting.

May 13th, 2017 8:30 AM – 3:30 PM

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Presenter – Wendy Lee

Leading Anti-bias Early Childhood Programs During Changing and Challenging Times

This full-day workshop invites program leaders and educators interested in growing anti-bias programs to join in conversation with our field’s leading thinkers on the topic. This interactive session will provide a framework for intentional and strategic leadership and examine what is involved in whole program transformation, in classrooms with children, and working with staff and with families. Time will be provided for action planning and applying the ideas to your own setting, so groups and teams from an organization or school are encouraged to attend together. This session will draw from the presenters’ recent book with co-author Louise Derman-Sparks, Leading Anti-bias Programs: A Guide for Change, and will examine some of the new challenges for leaders in social justice work with young children.

December 2nd, 2016 8:30 AM – 4:00 PM

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Presenter – John Nimmo and Debbie LeeKeenan


Reflecting on Teaching and Learning in Communities of Practice

Teaching young children is challenging work requiring ongoing inquiry, intention, enthusiasm, critical thinking, and decision-making. This session will offer an opportunity to engage in a community of practice with colleagues to understand and practice these key elements of reflective early childhood teaching.  Participants will gain self-awareness and a stronger image of children as they share their own stories and experiences, and leave with renewed excitement and delight for the wonderfully complex work of teaching and learning with young children.

February 21, 2017 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM

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Presenters – Wendy Cividanes and Debbie Lebo


Educator Discussion Series Evening Events

Enterprise Talk: A Handrail for Authenticity and Integrity

This evening is dedicated to becoming the adult leader you wish to be with your children, at home or at any grade of school. You can take away from this short experience guides that are concrete, observable, and restorative at those worst of times. Enterprise Talk is a memorable reminder of the verbal dimensions of power and privilege  an adult’s natural dominance over children  in order to be intentional in crafting the growing conditions for our beloved and avoid passing on toxic habits we may have inherited in our own growing up.

April 18, 2017 6:30 PM

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Presenter – Tom Drummond



The Importance of the Active Body Brain Connection

More is going on when children move their bodies than just staying healthy and getting their wiggles out. New information and resources about the importance of active physical play for young children’s development is showing up everywhere. There is growing alarm about the impact of the lack of active play, as early childhood educators often prevent and stop children’s exuberant play on behalf of safety and learning. Active play, which is an integral part of sensory motor development, actually builds neural pathways necessary for children to focus their eyes and attention, regulate their emotions, and develop the ability to plan and carry out a task. This Evening Discussion will invite you to study principles that will help educators ensure children get the active play experiences they deserve.

June 1st, 2017 6:30 PM

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Presenter – Deb Curtis


Educating Citizens: Play-Based Learning

Join “Teacher Tom” Hobson for a conversation about bringing the habits and principles of democracy and play into early years classrooms. We will begin by discussing the purpose of education in a democracy and how and why we have managed to veer so far from the original intent of education in America. We will then explore how a play-based curriculum works, using lots of examples, and consider how it can be a model for both education and democracy in action. Participants will uncover the benefits of introducing play-based principles and what it looks like when children are really learning through their play.

September 28, 2016 6:30 PM

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Presenter – Tom Hobson

Play, Culture, and the Role of the Teacher

We are in an era of increased emphasis on school readiness and decreased opportunities for a child’s unstructured exploration. What is the role of the teacher in early childhood programs to support children’s learning through play experiences? Join Margie Carter and Nnenna Odim for a provocative evening to consider opportunities to provide for and respond to children’s complex play.

We will explore the assumptions, dispositions, and experiences that influence our understandings and offerings of meaningful opportunities for children’s play. And you will leave with practice in describing the nuances of children’s learning as they play, as well as gain a repertoire of adult prompts to guide deeper curiosity and intentional teaching.

November 19, 2016 6:30 PM

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Presenter – Margie Carter and Nnenna Odim


Play and the Developing Brain: How Play-based Early Learning Prepares Children for Elementary School

Children love to play, and they need play to support healthy learning and development. In this session, we will focus on the importance and power of play in a child’s development and how children use play to build skills and understanding of the world around them. Based on current research from the University of Washington and other institutions, we will talk about the ways children play, and how those change throughout childhood. We will also talk about how children learn through play, discussing research that highlights how both free play and guided play build fundamental language and literacy, math and reasoning, and social-emotional skills that are crucial for success in the elementary years and beyond.

January 26, 2017 6:30 PM

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Presenter – Amelia Bachleda

Reading and Writing the World: Cultivating a Literacy of Place

We are sorry to announce this event has been cancelled. Please email with any questions.

Stories are elemental and essential for us humans. Stories tell us who we are, and where we are, and why we are. Stories of place locate us in the larger-than-human world, allowing us to know the land, the sky, the water, and to contextualize ourselves there, alongside the other creatures bound into them.

To tell stories of place with children and families, we need a place literacy, the ability to read the beyond-human world. We need to be literate in the varying shapes of leaf and blossom, in the seasonal moods of the grasses and wild weeds, in the distinct caresses of drizzle and downpour. During our evening, well consider how we develop a literacy of place, and how we invite children and families to do the same.

March 08, 2017 6:30 PM

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Presenter – Ann Pelo


Many thanks to our Educator Discussion Series season sponsors: