They Found Inspiration at NWTC
By Seyon Verdtzabella and Nancy Verdtzabella, Teachers
In June, Bing Nursery School teachers, Nancy Verdtzabella and Seyon Verdtzabella, attended the 9th annual Northwest Teachers’ Conference (NWTC) in Mt. Vernon, Wash. The six-day conference is a platform for professional development and personal renewal for educators. It provides teachers and administrators with opportunities to reaffirm their ability to teach through retrospection, personal reflection, collaboration and focus on their intention as educators.
Many of this year’s conference participants were inspired. They returned to their educational programs with ideas about how to promote team building, communication, poetry, singing, song writing and storytelling. The conference also broached many more topics, all of which were explored in small and large group seminars. For instance, in order to become a true community, children, parents and educators need to know each other. Educators take the lead in encouraging a supportive atmosphere in which each may notice the details about the other. These details can be shared through conversations, games, pictures, songs and stories.
Another topic of interest at NWTC 2004 was the role of the teacher in the classroom. Teachers are not dispensers of knowledge to children but collaborators in children’s learning. They invite and encourage students to take an active role in their own education. For example, when teachers share a song, children might clap, move, sing — or simply listen. The teacher’s role is to support and recognize how the children experience music. It is important to cultivate their desire to create, to invent, to wonder. Children are also invited to take their own ideas and experiences and infuse them into an existing song. Or, perhaps they will be inspired to create their own song at another time. Songs can help children and teachers address issues that impact their lives. Additionally, children can derive communication skills and speak about what they observe, understand or have a passion for. Likewise, teachers can benefit from this creative process.
Also, NWTC 2004 touched on how educators structure the learning environment. Consider that children need the time to wonder, to speculate. Adults might see a quiet and inactive child as bored. However, it is the teachers’ responsibility to learn about that child’s temperament and allow him or her to wonder, to be private. Space and time are essential for children to imagine and play. Educators may promote scientific learning by supporting children’s natural curiosity, inquiry and discoveries throughout the indoor and outdoor environment. One novel way to develop children’s thinking is to start the academic year with a classroom with blank walls, a canvas yet to be painted. As the journey of the class progresses, the walls will begin to reflect what is important to the children in that class. Teachers and children collaborate and negotiate the curriculum. Curiosity, intensity and creativity are enhanced.
Teaching requires constant giving — giving of attention, giving of energy to learning. NWTC rejuvenates educators to continue giving their very best to each and every student in their class.