I love learning.
There are always new things to learn, concepts to try, people to meet and information to gather. Conferences are a great way to become more familiar with your field, update your resume and broaden your experience.
And I only better myself with each conference I attend. There is so much out there for me to try and to learn in all of my fields. There is just something I enjoy about working with my colleagues in order to inform others about what's going on in our writing center or what the library has to offer.
In my young professional career, I have attended two Northeast Ohio Writing Center Association (NEOWCA) conferences for my job as a writing assistant at Stark State, and two Resources for Early Childhood Educators (RECE) conferences for the library as part of my Master's "practicum."
My first conference experience was with the Writing Center at last year's NEOWCA. During that conference, I presented twice alongside my co-workers. One was a panel discussion on technology and non-traditional students. It was really nice to hear that other centers are facing some of the same challenges we are, and that there are many different approaches. The other involved a visual argument debate. This was a fun session, and once the debate got going, it was sad the time ended so soon.
I really enjoy listening to what my colleagues have to say and what information, experiences, and solutions they bring to the table. I always love when I can bring something valuable back to the writing center.
At this year's conference, I presented along with a few of my co-workers on boundaries in the writing center. We discussed issues between writing assistants and students that we face on a daily basis, asking if it's best to have a set of boundary rules in place or if the writing assistant should set them him/herself. We had scenarios to work through, a continuum to finish, and a short video (a co-worker created) to watch. It led to a very interesting discussion.
And I can't help but enjoy those moments! You know, the kind where everyone is taking part in the discussion, and you're learning about each center, addressing problems, sharing information and developing solutions. So fun! (I'm a nerd, I know.)
This year, during my library practicum, I had the wonderful opportunity of attending two conferences focusing on the Akron-Summit County Public Library (a wonderful library!) and RECE. The first, Nature's Realm: Taking Learning Outdoors, fell under my practicum hours, and I learned so much at this conference that I would love to go back every year. I came away with so many ideas for children's story times that I can apply to my future career. I also learned why it's so important to get our kids outdoors to learn about their environment and Ohio. At that conference, I grew as a children's librarian, making me well-equipped and a better candidate for future positions in this competitive field.
The library's RECE department partnered with Summit MetroParks to inform early childhood educators (like head start programs, teachers, day cares, etc.) how important it is to get kids outside exploring their world, their own backyard. Whether you take them on a hike or have class outside, kids need to just be outside!!! The library then introduced how literacy can tie into outdoor learning. It was great! (I learned how to make the coolest turtle craft! and found great tools for story time kits.)
The second conference, Building Healthy Kids, was actually my practicum project, and I had the opportunity to present alongside Laura (she is brilliant at what she does), who works for the library as an Early Childhood Specialist. We presented on the importance of keeping our kids healthy and active, creating healthy habits from infancy, and tying it in with the library and literacy. I spent hours and hours researching (I loved it) valuable resources that early childhood educators (ECEs) can use indoors with limited space. I created various supplemental materials on fitness, health and nutrition, and yoga.
My part of the presentation consisted of a quick introduction on why ECEs should include yoga practices in their curriculums. [I'm a huge yogini. haha. But more on that in a later post.] (We had a lot of information to share in a short 45-minute session.The good thing, we were able to present the same session twice, once in the morning and the afternoon. So what we didn't hit on the first time, we caught the second time around.) I showed them ideas on how to incorporate yoga throughout the day, resources that explain various poses, and I concluded with a demonstration of my own.
I created a yoga story time.
I applied various yoga poses to Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar. A classic I'm sure we are all familiar with. I had so much fun skimming through resources and finding the best poses for preschoolers that fit with the book.
My yoga demo was the hit of the session!
One day I hope to attend the annual American Library Association (ALA) conference and other big ones in this field.
The next time your field is having a conference of its own, make sure you jump on that opportunity!
[And come back and share something you learned!]
With Love and God Bless,