Danyle Watkins reports on early childhood education conference

This summer I was given the opportunity to attend the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s (NAEYC) Professional Learning Institute in Austin, Texas. The institute this year was focused on advancing the profession. NAEYC has been focused on Power to the Profession for the last two years, hoping to move the field of early childhood forward into a well-unified profession with everyone being on the same page.

I was lucky to be able to attend seven sessions while I was at the conference. All the sessions were ones that I had chosen to go along with my teaching duties here at LLCC. One that I found interesting was on building our students’ professional identity. Students need to feel empowered and understood, allowing them to be the leader of their own educational experiences. They have knowledge that they bring to my classroom and allowing them to build on that knowledge is only going to help them become better teachers. The presenter talked about the four stages of competence: unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, and unconscious competence. I am including a link to a website on this idea: https://trainingindustry.com/wiki/strategy-alignment-and-planning/the-four-stages-of-competence. I found this to be helpful in my work with students.

Another session I attended was the National ACCESS day. ACCESS is a professional group for associate degree early childhood teacher educators. It is always nice to go to this session because we are all working at the associate degree level, and this is an opportunity for us to network and learn from each other. This year there were several ideas shared, one of my favorites was “The Scrapbook Page Project.” This is a project being used by several instructors in different states. The idea is to get students thinking about their unique backgrounds and what they bring to the table. Students created a scrapbook page that shared images that reflected what inspires them as teachers and then were asked to share in class regarding their creation; students were able to share a little about themselves and start to see themselves as professionals.

Overall, I feel I have been able to bring back ideas that are helpful in my work with future preschool teachers. I enjoy going to the conference and feel it is a benefit to myself and the early childhood program here at LLCC; it is a way for me to stay up-to-date and make sure that our early childhood program is being updated and staying competitive in the early childhood field.

Danyle Watkins, assistant professor, early childhood education