150 preschool educators from 22 schools around the Tri State area came to Crown Heights for the second annual CECE Joint Orientation.
In the last week before the new school year, the Chabad Early Childhood Education (CECE) Network presented its annual Joint Orientation & Networking session. A broad spectrum of over 150 preschool educators joined the program from Chabad House-based preschools across the New York area, ranging from Philadelphia to Connecticut. This is just one of many events that the CECE Network provides to Chabad preschool educators over the course of the school year.
The event's purpose was to provide an inspiring push-start to the upcoming year together with an environment full of opportunities for the educators to share and learn as they planned their educational year. To that end, the program was designed with engaging teamwork exercises, hands-on sessions, group discussions and other opportunities for the participants to learn from each other.
The morning started with inspiration for the upcoming year as Mrs. Devora Krasnianski described how we can bring Yiddishkeit into the very framework of the program in a variety of ways, including the way we speak to the children, classroom rituals such as tzedakah time, saying Brachos with the children and more.
The keynote was presented by Dr. Chelsea Bailey Weber, a veteran educator and consultant with much experience in the Reggio Emilia philosophy, spoke about the role of the teacher in the child’s learning. She described the all-important role of the teacher as a listener – to really, fully listen to the children so that she can help co-construct the child’s growth and learning by adjusting the program for each child. A teacher is also a provocateur, setting out engaging materials and having constructive and effective conversations with the child to support building his/her own knowledge.
Dr. Weber also shared some insights and practical tips about being fully ‘present’ in the classroom and paying attention to the children – having genuine interest in each child individually, dropping the teacher’s agenda and listening, and observing free of interpretations, feelings and judgments. These all contribute to a much richer program for the children.
Teachers had several opportunities to explore different materials and share ideas about how these can be used creatively (and inexpensively) in their classrooms to support and enrich the learning. Mrs. Krasnianski shared a Powerpoint of ideas for using basic materials such as water bottles, water, blocks and even foam pool noodles in innovative and inexpensive ways to support and enrich the learning. Around the room, many different classroom materials were set up so teachers could get ideas for their classrooms. The CECE Network also invited Mrs. Estee Lieblich of FurnitureforPreschool.com to share some innovative ideas for classroom centers.
Throughout the day, teachers from various schools had opportunities to network and share ideas, challenges and solutions. The CECE Network actively encourages and supports such network opportunities so they may continue throughout the year, enabling all educators in the region to learn and gain from each other's experiences.
The conference participants came away from the experience newly inspired and enthusiastic to implement new strategies, techniques and ideas in their schools, and to share the new ideas with their staff, community and parents.
The CECE (Chabad Early Childhood Education) Network was established six years ago as a division of The Shluchim Office, the global Chabad-Lubavitch resource center run by Rabbi Gedalya Shemtov. The CECE Network’s goal was to serve as a central support and resource network for those who run or direct a Chabad preschool, helping the directors make their local Chabad preschool the preeminent choice within their community. Mrs. Devora Krasnianski is the director of the CECE Network, and its operations are supported thanks to the generosity of Dr. Joseph Walder.
Among its many services, the CECE Network provides an online forum, annual and regional conferences, a peer review system, online workshops, conference calls, seminars, articles, and guided online discussion groups. For more information, please visit us at Shluchim.org/CECE