Early Childhood Education conference 5-6 November 2016.

 

 ECEC organised an international level conference for the first time in its history. It was a huge success where international and national keynote speakers presented their views on the importance of early childhood education.

More than 600 people present enjoyed themselves while learning many new things, getting inspired and making new friends. It turned out to be a huge success beyond the general expectation.

There were 56 different workshops held side by side to the conference on different topics. Some of them were presented by the specialists from abroad and others by Nepalese experts.

ECEC organised the conference with other partner organisations, they were Himal Partner (Norway), ECETA, Educational Horizons Nepal, N-PABSON, RatoBangala, SetoGurans, NLA University College, Kathmandu Post (media partner) and NEPA-SA(sound partner).

  

Workshop title: Why I do What I do?

Code: A1

Time: 11:30 – 01:00 pm

 

Presenter: Dr. Low Guat Tin

Workshop Type: Plenary

Materials/ Media Used: PowerPoint

 

Introduction:

Guat Tin was an Associate Professor in the National Institute of Education in Nanyang Technological University. She has since retired and is busy consulting with many organisations. She received many awards for excellence in teaching when she was at the National Institute of Education. She is trained in basic school psychology and she studied educational management in The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.  She has written 15 books and many journal articles. She lent her expertise to conduct workshops in many countries.

 

Session Outline:

There are countless choices in education and career. But whatever we do, there is a need for us to know why we do it. Though many have no problem with what and how of their work, they do not know why they do it. Dr. Low shared that why is about a reason, a purpose, a meaning for our actions. Whatever work we do, we need to know why we do it. When we know the why, we will look at our work with very different eyes, and see from a very different perspective. The realization then gives us a sense of purpose.

 

Dr. Low began her presentation with these questions about teaching – What is teaching? Is it a job? Is it a calling? These questions piqued the audiences’ attention. Why does one become a teacher? If we like working as one and consider it a respectable profession, then that is good enough. But when we are in the classroom, we to know more as it is a world of its own.

 

Every new generation of student may be smarter than the last. However, students are like empty sponge. That is what makes the job harder. Teachers have a very important role of keeping the lessons interesting while teaching as they should enjoy coming to school. Therefore teachers have to focus on the ‘laugh to learn’ and ‘learn to laugh’ idea. Learning is a lifelong process and we shouldn’t dismiss anything as irrelevant. “Keep learning because you never know what you learned becomes relevant,” she said. This is where the importance of ‘Golden Circle’ lies. If we know why we do what we do, it will make our life purposeful. It turns any vocation into vacation. We will learn to live life through labor and that, she said, is the secret of life.

 

She then introduced the audience to the story Mahabir Pun who found his purpose. He brought computers and internet to around 175 villages of Nepal and connected them to the world. His dream changed the lives of those people. He demonstrated the unusual power of a leader by making their lives more significant and rewarding. In the same way, Dr. Low said that our work must encourage other people to do better and lift them to a higher standing. But first it must happen to us. For that, we need to know why we are doing what we’re doing and eventually contribute in the bigger picture.

 

The workshop was conducted in English.

 

Main Points/Summary:

While the presentation started as a lecture on educating, it quickly changed direction and turned philosophical. The purpose of this lecture was to help the audience think about the purpose of life and find meaning in their work.

 

Title: Reflection in Mentoring – To Step Aside

Code: A3, B3

Time: 2:00 – 3:30 pm

 

Presenter: Astrid Øien Halsnes

Workshop Type: Plenary/Activity-Based.

Materials/ Media Used: White board, pens and duster, projector, paper and pencils, tape, PowerPoint presentation.

 

Introduction:

Astrid Øien Halsnes is an assistant professor in Pedagogy. She is a lecturer in Preschool Teacher Education in NLA University College in Norway. Her main subjects are Mentoring and Children’s Play. Her master thesis is about Outdoor Play and Communication between teachers and children. She was involved in developing work and small research in Preschool focus on Toddlers’ Play. She has conducted several Mentoring Courses for teacher trainers at ECEC from 2009 to 2014.

 

Session Outline:

The session began with Halsnes asking simple questions on mentoring which engaged the participants in discussions. Halsnes intended the participants to experience mentoring as a learning method. She wanted them to become aware of the silent knowledge as a part of a teacher’s development. The workshop aimed to make the participants understand that reflection is center to what professionals do. It concerns looking into our experiences, connecting with our feelings, and attending to our theories in use. It entails building new understandings to inform our actions in the situation that is unfolding.

 

This idea is based on Donald Schöns who said,”The basic assumption is that the combination of practical work and reflection will lead to higher awareness in the teaching and thus also to better quality in teaching.” At the workshop, this was achieved by sharing stories from teaching and helping each other reflect through mentoring exercises.

 

The mentoring exercises were practiced in small groups. The concept of mentoring includes a mentor and a protégé. The mentor can work in various ways such as consulting, coaching, and advising. The first part of the session was about practice. The second was about using the practice for pragmatic purposes.

 

Participants also learned that understanding who we are helps identity ourselves as mentors on a deeper level. It is important to understand our tacit skill, statement, propositional knowledge to grow as a teacher or a mentor. Listening is very important, followed by asking and then challenging. Learning specific skills are crucial. A case was introduced and the participants were asked to examine that case and share their thoughts and reactions. Participants were divided to discuss among themselves. The conclusion was that professional teachers know what to do at the right time.

 

The workshop also focused on reflection – in – action and reflection –on – action. The participants also helped each other reflect and describe what silent teaching knowledge is.

 

The workshops were devised to have a maximum of 15 participants each time. The workshop was conducted in English.

 

Main Points/ Summary:

The workshop provided thoughtful insight on what mentoring is and the ways to do it. Halsnes provided case studies to make it clearer. She fostered an environment of reflection because to induce deep thinking. It changes our behavior for the better, so that opinions and thoughts become clear. The presentation also demonstrated how learning should be complemented with reflection. Thus, reflecting on how to mentor will eventually make us better teachers and mentors.

 

Title: “I am a Teacher” – Exploring Your Own Professional Identity through Drama

Code: A9, B9

Time:2:00 – 3:00 pm

 

Presenter: Ruth Hol Mjanger

Workshop Type: Activity-based

Materials/ Media Used: White board, pens, and dusters.

 

Introduction:

Ruth Hol Mjanger is an associate professor at NLA University College in Norway. As a drama educator in Teacher Education, she investigates multidisciplinary cooperation in education and research, often related to ownership, identity, values and society. She uses art-based approaches, like drama, poems, stories and theatre performances. In 2010 – 2011 she introduced the Shadow Play Project at the 1-year-course at ECEC.

 

Session Outline:

The objective of the session was to acquaint the participants with art-based learning methods for investigating professional issues and also make them aware of their own story and identity as a part of a teacher’s professional development.

 

The presenter divided the participants into a group and created frozen action images to portray who they liked to be in the community compared to what they didn’t like to be. Two groups acted out negative aspects of a school community such as fighting and bullying. The remaining two acted out positive aspects such as planning with the children, singing songs with the students, etc.

 

Such practices of enactment and drama offer a way to organize group conversations in a holistic way. They use body language, emotions, and logical reflection for the purpose. The practice is based on Dan McAdams term Narrative identity.The workshop presented a practical way to understand the essence of his theoretical framework connected to Actor, Agent and Author. For that, the participants shared key stories from their professional life and attempted to investigate them through drama exercises. They pondered on questions like:

Do you have important persons in your life that impacted your choice to become a teacher?

Do you remember any situation in your work that heavily involved you, made you upset or made you enthusiastic?

Do you remember any moments in your professional life when you achieved major insights?

 

They presented a short work-in-progress presentations for each other. Drama exercises is a way to use the art of theatre as a learning method for the group, and not primarily for an audience. The drama teacher made an effort to make a safe and positive environment for participating through step by step guidance into the drama exercises. The participants and the presenter also discussed the relation between teacher and principle, teacher and students, and between colleagues.

 

The workshop was conducted in English.

 

Main Points/ Summary:

The workshop hoped to help the participants come up with an understanding and an answer to the question ‘who am I’ through drama performances. The presenter also intended for the participants to be in touch with their feelings by awakening it and using logic through the active participation. The workshop was a chance for the participants to reflect upon their inspiration of their professional life and how it helped them and introduced them to the teaching career.