Thursday, January 31, 2008

Early Literacy for Preschool Educators

The meeting room was booked. The invitations were sent. The Power Point slide was made. The notes were prepared.

And Tuesday night I gave my first presentation to a group of local preschool teachers. The presentation was about Every Child Ready to Read and it was geared as a refresher course about early literacy with examples of activities that teachers could (hopefully) use in their classrooms. Our library registered to be an official provider of Continuing Professional Development Units so that the teachers could earn credit for attending. The process of registering is different for each state, but ours was through the Illinois State Board of Education.

I culled my material from the awesome workshop resources on the ECRR website. Because this presentation was for preschool educators (and not limited to those working with a certain age), I pieced together slides and information from each of the age groups. As I went through each of the skills, I tried to give ideas about how to develop those skills with every child from birth to age 5. I also tried to give tons of examples of great books and activities that teachers could use in their classrooms. All of the activities I got from the ECRR materials and I put in my own favorite books wherever I could.

As part of the CPDU provider criteria, each participant had to fill out an evaluation form (which is totally awesome, by the way... I got some great feedback). So I know that at least one teacher felt she already knew all the information provided. But I still got many comments saying that teachers had learned something new or appreciated the scientific information or had learned about some new books or games. (My greatest fear was that I would finish the presentation and everyone would be totally bored because, well, they probably have degrees in early childhood education so they already know all this stuff.)

As librarians, it's part of our job to disseminate information about early literacy to the public. Even if preschool teachers have been taught how to develop early literacy, everyone can use a refresher now and then. Everyone can use a few new ideas about how to approach activities or sharing books with children. We got a great response and a great turnout (despite the Blizzard of DOOM that we was supposed to hit at precisely the time of the program). And I'm looking forward to doing more Preschool Educator Workshops in the future (which we will now be able to do since this one was successful).

Though it did go very well, there are some things I would change. I would ask the teachers to introduce themselves at the beginning. I definitely recognized some familiar faces, but I really can't put anyone's faces with their names. It would have been useful for me to get to know them a little better (and as an added bonus it would have given me a minute or two to get comfortable and calm being up in front of them). Also, I think that my presentation ended up being not very interactive. When I do this again (and I will do it again, for parents if not more preschool teachers), I will definitely make a conscious effort to get them involved.

(It was so intimidating to me to be standing in front of this group, most of which have many, MANY more years of experience at their jobs than I have at mine... That's my excuse, though I shouldn't make excuses...)

So. Yes. Our Early Literacy for Preschool Educators went well. My first presentation as a professional went well (and brought me RIGHT back to grad school). And I'm looking forward to doing more in the future.