2014 NAREA Winter Conference

It is with great pleasure that we report that over 350 participants, from 26 states and 4 countries, attended the Fifth Annual NAREA Winter Conference, “The Pleasure of Learning: Reimagining School as a Place of Inspiration, Innovation, and Collaboration”! The conference featured the participation of Paola Cagliari and Angela Barozzi from Reggio Emilia, visits to the Exhibit, school tours, affinity group time, and cultural highlights focusing on southern storytelling. It was a conference with many firsts- the first time for Angela to present in the United States, the first time for the winter conference to feature the Exhibit “The Wonder of Learning”, the first time to offer a break out group for those who have encountered the Exhibit multiple times, the first time for many participants to attend a NAREA conference, and the first time for a southern gospel choir to tell
their story through song with educators! The beautiful sanctuary of the First Baptist Church served as a backdrop for the conference sessions and the educators and parents from First Baptist Church Kindergarten and Infant-Toddler Program provided southern hospitality to all! The excitement and dedication of participants was visible each day as groups of educators joined in conversations about early childhood education. During the three days of the conference, we encountered a style of listening to presentations by Paola Cagliari and Angela Barozzi for half of the day, then participating in the Exhibit, school tours, and dialogue exchange during the other half. The plenary session presentations included: “The Pleasure of Learning as Seen From The Viewpoint Of Teachers, Children, and Parents” “ Introduction to the Exhibit: Conversations Around The Exhibit And The Visible Learning Present In The Exhibit-From Their Point of View” “Reimagining School As A Place of Inspiration, Innovation, And Collaboration” “The Hundred Languages As A Metaphor For The Extraordinary Potentials Of Children” “Educational Research As An Essential Dimension Of Children’s and Adult’s Lives” The following comments sum up the spirit and richness of the presentations by our Reggio colleagues: “Paola’s perspective was refreshing and practical. I also enjoyed seeing more from the infant/toddler schools and thought Angela did a really nice job giving her perspective.” “As always, the Italian speakers were brilliant!” “A fantastic conference with passionate educators . . . inspired by you all.”
“It was such an amazing experience I am now even more determined to change the mindset of education.” On the first day, we traveled to McAlister Square where the Exhibit was located. Prior to encountering the Exhibit, Angela Barozzi shared elements of the Exhibit as a way to orient us to the “Wonder of Learning”. For the first time, a break out session was offered to those who had encountered the Exhibit multiple times. It was very well received. “The breakout session was fantastic! I hope you continue to offer an option for those of us who have seen the exhibit many times.” At the end of the day, a reception, hosted by Project Infinity was held for everyone at the Exhibit site. On the second day, we visited the classrooms at the First Baptist Church Kindergarten and Infant-Toddler Program in order to dialogue with teachers about their work with young children, with parents, and with colleagues in a Reggio inspired school. The last day brought opportunities for exchange. Participants offered their questions and comments, which Paola and Angela used to create a presentation. This was followed up with an exchange between the audience and a panel, which included a First Baptist Church Kindergarten educator, NAREA board members and the educators from Reggio. The conference concluded with a video highlighting our experiences together! Throughout the conference, cultural offerings were woven through the daily experiences. With a focus on sharing culture through storytelling, in a variety of forms, the southern culture was expressed in different ways each day. The first day opened with a storyteller sharing connections to food and family, the second day ended with encounters with local artisans, and the last day opened with a traditional Gospel choir and community story sharers. The NAREA board and staff would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to Kathy Stewart, Dewanda Martin, Rosemary New, Kristy Way and all the teachers and parents of First Baptist Church Kindergarten and Infant-Toddler Program. Without their help, this professional development initiative would not have been possible. In addition, we would like to extend our great appreciation to our presenters, Paola Cagliari and Angela Barozzi, along with their translator, Leslie Morrow, for their captivating and compelling contributions
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