The Bing Institute

By Beverley Hartman, Head Teacher and Director of the Bing Institute, and Sarah Wright, Head Teacher and Manager of Special Projects

“If you build it, he will come,” is the famous line from the 1989 movie Field of Dreams. Similarly, if you renovate the Tower House at Bing Nursery School, adults will come. The restoration of the historic building has enabled the school to truly realize a “dream come true,” with the successful launch of the Bing Institute in 2010. This amazing environment, adjacent to the nursery school, is an ideal site for engaging educators and parents to promote quality early childhood education.

During the fall 2010 staff development day, Bing teachers examine their own teaching practices and explore the value of basic materials as part of the experiential process.

The mission of the Bing Institute is to foster a community dedicated to improving the lives of young children and their families. The institute provides professional development for early childhood educators and personal development for parents. Examining the philosophy, program and practices that shape our educational model translates into opportunities for inspiration, shared experiences and stronger commitments to serving young children.

The institute offered parents, Bing teachers and other educators the following in the 2010-2011 academic year:

• Bing parents participated in the well-established Parent Seminar Series featuring “The Competence Model” and “Parenting Strategies.” The presentations were held in the Tower House and the format worked well in this setting. The institute also launched informal parent meetings called Coffee Talks. Bing teachers, researchers, parents and community members hosted these conversations. The topics ranged from choosing children’s books to composting and to preparing healthy breakfasts. Parents responded positively to this type of interaction.

• Bing teachers engaged in a professional development day (see page 26 for more information) and had ongoing opportunities for their own growth through a number of workshops, and/or by serving as presenters.

• Early childhood educators took part in a range of programs. The institute held two evening seminars for local educators on the use of paint and clay. We also hosted a conference about reflective practice designed especially for the Chabad Early Childhood Education Network. Twenty-three directors from this network gathered for three days for sessions related to “Developing Reflective Practice: Opening a Dialogue About Quality Early Childhood Education.” This summer, the institute held two conferences. The first was a repeat of last summer’s program, “Developing Reflective Practice.” The second was on a new topic: “Back to Basic Materials: A Foundation for Curriculum Design.”

For many years, Bing School had been limited in its ability to take an active role in the early childhood education community, in part due to space constraints. As evidenced above, that has changed. Previously, our teachers participated in the field by presenting at conferences and maintaining the school as a model for best practices. Now that we take this step in developing educational programs for adults, we find that we have been preparing for this opportunity for a long time. Our teachers and administrators possess a wealth of information to share and ideas to investigate in this broader community.