Interview with ELG’s ACAMIS ECE Conference Presenters
At the ACAMIS Early Childhood Education Conference held at SCIS ECE during the last weekend of November, five of our specialists led workshops on a variety of topics. The theme of the conference was A Great Beginning: Developmentally Appropriate Practice in International Early Childhood Education Programs. Following the great feedback we got from the talks, we asked them some questions to find out how it went for them.
Robin Shepard, one of our Innovative Learning Center’s Program Leaders, together with our Clinic Director Karlijn Jacobs de Hoon, led a workshop in Learning through Play, focusing on how to use the Vygotskian approach to maximize teachable moments.
Finally, Fiona Yapp, our Admissions Officer and resident social worker, talked about child neglect and abuse, and how to identify concerns and respond effectively in an international setting like Shanghai.
ELG: Tell us about how participating in this event contributed to your development as a professional. What did you get out of it?
Fiona: As a Child Protection Social Worker, this was a wonderful opportunity for me to share my experience and skills with other professionals, and learn more from others about their experiences of child protection practices in China.
Zoe: Taking part in this event required me to look back over my own learning and pick out relevant areas of interest for teachers. It made me think about the perspective of teachers and what they may experience daily with the children in their class.
Kimberly: Presenting to a group of experienced educators challenges and motivates me to consider what I am presenting and how I can make it relevant for them right now. The attendees at ACAMIS asked great questions and were eager to learn how they could apply the skills being discussed as best practices in their school communities. I know the struggles teachers and administrators face and it was a great reminder that the coaching tools I use are a valuable resource for educators.
Karlijn: I loved presenting with Robin and learned some new skills that I can apply both in my therapeutic work and in my general presenting skills. I also loved being part of a big conference such as this one!
Robin: Learning through play, the topic I presented on, is something I work to facilitate in my own program every day. Having the chance to present led me to go out and look up current research on the subject, thus giving me a fresh perspective and new arguments in favor of learning through play. Additionally, every time I go back and review the theories on which these practices are based, I pick up something which I had forgotten or something which had diminished and needs to be revived.
ELG: Did you feel that your presentation had an impact?
Fiona: There was a fantastic energy throughout the session, and the attendees engaged well with one another during the practical section. I presented the “Signs of Safety” model, followed by a case study exercise designed to equip professionals with the basic skills needed to be able to use this model effectively when responding to cases of suspected child neglect or abuse. As a minimum, I felt that my presentation helped to raise awareness and keep the issue of child neglect and abuse in the spotlight within the international community.
Zoe: I think my presentation gave educators the opportunity to understand children’s brain development and how they, as teachers, have an impact on this every day in their Early Years classrooms. I also gave teachers the information to be able to justify the need for unstructured creative activities in the classroom and I offered different ways of looking at children’s behavior and how to manage it in the classroom.
Kimberly: In my session, we talked through real life examples and how these difficult conversations could be redirected to become solution-focused conversations. The people who attended all had a common goal—to be the best educators they can be and to do what is best for the children and families in their communities. This was very evident in the conversations we had and I think that the skills we covered give them more resources to reach those goals.
Karlijn: Yes, I think it was very hands-on and immediately applicable. Also, I think the fact that both Robin and I have relevant experience in an international education setting added a lot of value to the content and experience of the participants. I think a lot of online PD opportunities are great, but it is difficult to make the translation into daily work life as everything somehow works different in China, we’re used to that and have some tricks up our sleeves with regards to how to work in that environment.
Robin: We presented on a topic with which educators are already familiar so the goal was not to present some mind blowing, game changing idea but rather to give these teachers some powerful, well supported arguments in favor of learning through play and also a practical framework and things to consider when applying the concept to their own classrooms.
ELG: What did you enjoy the most about presenting at this conference?
Fiona: It was fantastic to meet with so many educators who are committed to protecting and nurturing the children they work with.
Zoe: I had the opportunity to meet some really inspirational teachers working here in Shanghai and in other parts of China!
Kimberly: I enjoyed the interaction with the workshop attendees. They brought great energy and were willing to be open and share from their own experiences. They were also willing to be vulnerable and ask and answer powerful questions.
Karlijn: I was so incredibly proud to be at the Conference, alongside five amazing women from our ELG team. We got great feedback from other participants, which was a great affirmation with regards to the depth of knowledge and experience that ELG staff bring to the international education community in Asia.
Robin: The entire event was very well planned, well documented, and easy for the presenters to just come in and focus on presenting without having to worry about logistics. Additionally, it is very always energizing to meet with other like-minded people and share ideas.