site visit day two

Sunday May 25, 2013
Candise of Grey Line Tours greeted us and then turned us over to Ganzalo or Papa Lion for a San Juan city tour.  For six hours our guide told us legends, pointed out sites and sights, shared history, and helped us imagine life for people at various points in the story of Puerto Rico.  He was always asking questions like:  why is the tunnel curved at this point, what do you notice about these shoes, as soldiers came through here what was the challenge  . . . (if you go on the tour, we’ll give you the answers so you will look smarter than we did!)  We visited Castillo San Cristóbal, walked through Viejo San Juan, had lunch, toured other parts of the city.  There are some engaging sculptures around.  I was particularly taken with La Rogativa by Lindsay Daen (depicting a miracle created by women and clergy to save the city), Catalino “Tite” Curet Alonso, and the Cat Giraffe by Jorge Zeno.  We returned to the hotel exhausted.
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Bruce gave us a tour around the hotel, so that we could begin to envision 2014 unfolding.  It’s the best hotel we’ve ever had for space and convenience.  The breakout rooms suit our needs and are quite large and all located on the same level–all meeting rooms are.  There is a computer room, huge ballrooms, soft seating, palm lined windows.  It will be great space for making connections of all kinds–intimate, unexpected, joyous, powerful.  Bruce did a great job choosing this place for our gathering.
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For dinner that night we ate at Ficus, a bar/cafe between the hotel and the convention center.  We could hear coqui, the tiny frogs, singing around us.  Roger and Bruce played around a bit in the casino.

World Forum 2014 site visit begins

Friday to Saturday May 24, 2013

Roger and I flew the red eye from Seattle to Newark to San Juan, arriving about noon on Saturday, May 25.  Everything about flights and connections was slick so the transit was quite easy except for the red eye part.  It’s quite a bit warmer here than in Seattle and very humid — the skies looked like rain–but it only sprinkled.  We moved into the Sheraton and began to make it our World Forum home away from home.  Here are some photos of our day to give you a peek at your future World Forum arrival next May.
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As we sat in the bar waiting out the rain, we noticed many people of all ages in very intriguing attire–swords, ears, tails, wings.  Comic Con is at the convention center across the street and there are superheroes and comic characters everywhere.  We wandered through to enjoy the scene–our favorite costume was this angel with just amazing wings.  Lots of time and creativity spent on these costumes.
Bruce arrived a few minutes late, and was very surprised to see Gloria de Llovio there to welcome us with hugs and smiles, sweet little bananas and mangos.
We had dinner in Choices with Jeanette Aviles from the Sheraton as our host.  Chef Elvin Rosado told us about each course–we all liked the crab cake with caribbean cherry and mango salsa the best.  Waiter Gabriel Valdes and Roger engaged in sports trivia challenges.  (Roger should have reviewed John’s notes!)
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living a birthday

It was indeed a Happy Birthday! Roger and I were welcomed to spend time at KOA Keiki Head Start in Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii by Marci Whitman, Karen Saronitman and Erlinda Ancheta and 14 amazing and wonderful children. We brought newspapers to make “birthday” hats and books to read. They created paper flower and straw leis and sang to us. Glue, tape, and paint brought out the wild side, and, of course, we sang “Head and Shoulders” really really loudly–and laughed.

Thank you for your greetings and for those of you who chose to spend a bit of time, maybe a little differently with children on that day.

From Karen Stephens: On your birthday I drew with children on sketchpads in my office. One child was drawing all the “buttons” she could remember in the building…. the ADA buttons for those with disabilities needing to open doors independently. You never know what will capture a child’s interest.

Jean Dugan had some great fun with children:

Nancy Rosenow made a big effort to spend a few minutes in a classroom between meetings. She enjoyed even a small amount of time interacting with children and listening to what they have to say.

Chuck Larsen: I too will be celebrating your b.d. by being with kids. They are the funniest and best looking people!

Elyssa Nelson: Happy Birthday, Bonnie! I will definitely be around children tomorrow, and will think of you! My grandson’s 1st birthday was yesterday; a fellow Aquarian. I hope you have a year filled with loving, grace, joy and peace as you continue to bring people together to act for children.

Christa Griest and Sam Sam sent this photo:

Lori Harris: And Happy Belated Birthday! I loved your idea of spending the day with kids. My new schedule has given me time with my 3-year-old twin godchildren that I didn’t have even with them at my center. I hope your day with children was great.

Raymond Isola decided to spend his birthday with children from Sanchez School and shared this photo:

my birthday

It’s my birthday! Celebrate with me on February 5.

I’ve been giving this a lot of thought. It seems like #65 needs a plan, and I’ve been advised that you can do anything you want on your birthday!

Many of you have thought of such creative ways to celebrate milestones — the fun of Luis Hernandez’s work party, the thoughtfulness of Margie Carter’s seaside meditations, Ann Pelo’s solstice observances, Jean Dugan’s philanthropic gift requests. Inspired by your wit, wisdom, and creativity, I’ve decided to ask for something extraordinary.

The focus, of course, has to be on children. We’ve made them the focus of our lives — and, besides, who better to celebrate with?

As a world society we are spending a great deal of energy and time trying to figure out what we should be doing for, to, about, in the interests of, and concerning children. Unfortunately, we seem to spend more time talking about what we should be doing than taking action. We’ve become trapped in the complexities of measuring, until we can hardly move in order to set in motion the things that need to happen. But when you strip away all the trimmings and agendas, it seems to me the most essential and precious thing we can do with children is to really be with them. Really with. Tuned in. Timed out. Focused. Engrossed. In the moment. Authentic. Side by side together. Connected.

If we can figure out how to make this happen for children often, every day, most of the time; then, I believe, they will learn to read, understand their maths, create amazing art, be interested in many things, feel good about themselves, become skilled at problem solving, and know in their bones how to be part of society and the world.

So I’m going to spend my birthday with children. I’m going to set aside some time to really be with children. Will you do the same in order to celebrate with me?

And how will we spend that time? Reflecting on my experiences as family child care provider, early childhood teacher, grandmother, mother, babysitter, observer of children everywhere they can be found, here are ways of spending time with children that I think really matter:

• Telling stories. Maybe I can find a child who likes to begin “Once upon a time . . . “

• Reading. Being read to, learning book behaviors, valuing story — these are the heart of literacy.

• Building. Blocks can be made of anything and they can become anything we can imagine.

• Making a mess. Mud, water, glue, glitter, pillows. Mixing things up — especially things that don’t ‘belong’ together.

• Being silly. Roughhousing, laughing, rolling, pretending. Enjoying the feel of things. Feeling happiness.

• Going outdoors. Wild. Free. Amazing discoveries everywhere. Endless adventure.

Several weeks ago I began thinking about my birthday. I wanted it to be somehow extraordinary. And I came up with the most simple plan of all: be with children.

Join me. Party hats recommended, but not required.

If you celebrate, please share with us your photos and stories of being with children!
Email to [email protected]

role models

I was doing some research for thinking about role models and thought of your Carol Brunson Day’s Mom, but I couldn’t remembered her name. So I googled and found the story about her cheerleading at age 97 in an article from WATE.COM, Knoxville, Tennessee.

Quite a number of years ago at NAEYC or NBCDI Carol’s Mom, Burnece Walker Brunson, shared with me how much she loved it that so many young women in her community would often come by just to see her, to share news, to ask for advice. They had a special name for her — Queen Mother Brunson. How powerfully she is using her life. Burnece Walker Brunson is one inspiring woman.

Carol confirms this: “I have spent the past month in Nashville with Queen Mother Brunson and had a chance to see the fullness of her life. So many people of all ages calling, emailing, stopping by to visit, and coming by to pick her up to take her places – testament to her active and extremely close connections with friends and family. She’s 97 years old now and she is my inspiration too.”

WF 2014 • building

We continued the launch of WF 2014 with a meeting at NAEYC in Atlanta, Georgia, on Wednesday, November 14, 2014. Attending were: Gladys Montes, Luis Hernandes, Maria Levis, Gloria de Llovio, Kevin Carnes, Ellen Hall, Nancy Rosenow, Dana Wiser, Samia Kazi, Chip Donohue, Paola Ricco, Nina Sazer, Bruce Schon, Roger and me.

We talked about the site visit and the selection of Puerto Rico, fundraising, program-building, coordination, ideas big and small. It was a great opportunity to begin to build our team for the event and to generate excitement together. Gloria and Maria brought sweet treats and flags–and we made some music.

advocates • fun • community • Miami

We had a great meeting of the World Forum’s Global Leaders for Young Children, North American and Caribbean Regional Groups, at United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education, Miami, Florida, November 4-6, 2012.

The purpose of the meeting was to continue the mentoring of these leaders as advocates for young children, learn about their advocacy projects, work together to strategize how to leverage, maximize, and link projects–and strengthen this group as a community to each other. I think all objectives were met. We spent some time thinking about this particular group as they build their roles in the WF community and extend their learnings in their own communities.

We want to thank Rose Davies, Beta Moté, and Francie Hunt, and founder Joan Lombardi for their work on behalf of Global Leaders. Christa Griest worked so hard with us to make this meeting happen. We want to thank United Way and Gladys Montes and Bevone Ritchie and the staff, children and families of the Center for making us so welcome. And a big call out to Luis Hernandes for inviting us into his home and even cooking for us. Big thank you.

There will be more on our website and in Exchange. This was great work.

singing • truffles • chestnut trees

Monday was sessions all day and then the celebration with music and dance and launch of the ISSA’s new initiative, the Romani Early Childhood Network—and a walk back to the hotel in a torrential downpour that ruined clothes and even my cell phone.

Tuesday I enjoyed coffee with Jan Peeters on the balcony of the hotel overlooking the harbor. There is great pleasure in having time with a great friend. Then I went out to enjoy Opatija and find someone who could fix my phone–not possible. Muroni again, different vendor, different taste. A lovely seaside walk. Ugly encounter with jewelry vendor. A glass of wine at my bar in the harbor.

I signed up for a dinner at Amphora Restaurant. There were about 24 of us, Cornelia and Valentina, Irene and Theresa, a couple from Australia, Dominique and Edwine. Accessibility for Irene was a huge issue and only her humor saved it for us all. Food was okay. We started to sing, first sharing songs we knew and then trying to find songs that we all knew– more challenging. I thought that was very enjoyable and indeed saved the experience for all, or most anyway.

Many participants from the conference opted for the scenic bus tour to Istra. We traveled through Buzet to Motovun, passing truffle “fields”, olives, vineyards. Lunch in Motovun was in a courtyard at the top of a cobbled path, sunlight through the chestnut leaves. Food was quite good and I enjoyed the conversation and company of Zorica, Dominique and Edwine.

We journeyed on to Rovinj for the last of the sunset, and after many hours on the bus, back to the hotel.

ISSA/DECET conference highlights

ISSA/DECET Program Highlights
(paraphrased and limited to my choices)

“Experimenters, Critical Thinkers, and Democrats: The role of Educators in a World of Conflicting Alternatives”
Peter Moss, UK
•Education in it’s broadest sense should be from 0-100 with shared images, understandings, values and ethics, goals, pedagogies, and practices.
•ECE should be a strong and equal and proactive participant in a lifelong system of education.
•Educators need to welcome and value diversity, subjectivity, context, multiplicity and connectedness, complexity, uncertainty, democracy, and dialogue.
•There needs to be a listening to and telling of stories, asking questions, experimenting, and opening to new thinking.
As always, Peter was provocative. His ideas served as a reference point for stimulating discussions.

Jelena Vranjesevic, Serbia, talked about teacher leadership, distributed leadership, teachers as researchers and as visible creators of their own practice. We need to think about the existing reality and experiment with different possibilities to create change.

Saskia van Schaik, the Netherlands, discussed cultural diversity and affirmed that we need minority children for their boon to society and cognition and for their cultural perspectives.

Merlyne Cruz, Australia, shared a personal story of growing up in the Philippines and coming to see a new vision for the world and for her own life. Authenticity.

Liana Ghent and Laura Surdu, Hungary, introduced ISSA’s new platform for professional development and the Romani Child Care Network. Quality is defined by community.

Gulchera Kabilova, Tajikistan, spoke about inclusive education in a country where there is a huge increase in numbers of people with disabilities.

Lola Boboeva and Jamshed Kurbanov, Tajikistan, shared about the empowerment of teachers and the challenges of rural populations.

Radmila Rangelov-Jusovicj, Bosnia/Herzegovina, and Tatjana Vonta, Slovenia, shared provocative analyses of professional trainings and summarizing that what we are doing doesn’t often work. It isn’t the numbers of trainings or the numbers in the trainings, effective training is sustained over a long period of time and the focus is in-depth. Teachers need time to reflect in a community of learning.

“Moving Beyond Individual Competences to Competent Systems in Contexts of Diversity and Unpredictability”
Michael Vandenbroeck, Belgium
•To create education policy, there needs to be something between evidence-based and economic and that is where values and ethical choices play a role. This is the essence of policy.
•The world needs superdiversity/hyperdiversity—unpredictable, complex, entangled, changing belongings and aspirations. The ECE professional need to respect each belonging and take care of the common good.
•Many people were quoting this statement:
Reflective practitioners know what to do.
Reflexive practitioners know how to do it.

Jan Peeters, Belgium, Gerda Sula, Albania, Chris de Kimpe, Belgium, and Batjargal Batkhuyag, Mongolia each shared insights on creating a competent system based on their own, very different contexts.

“The Learning Community: Overcoming the Gap Between Theory and Practice”
Edita Slunjski, Croatia
•Learning communities are critical in overcoming the gap between theory and practice.
•In practice, every theory becomes what an educator makes of it and how he/she understands, modifies, and applies it on a daily basis.
•For real change of quality in practice to occur, the way the educators think needs to change, but they cannot be forced to think differently or to develop new skills.
•Transforming a kindergarten into a learning community requires:
developing personal and common vision
state of permanent change
self and mutual reflection
acknowledging different opinions and perspectives
documenting process

Mihaela Ionescu, Hungary
There is a time when we need to enjoy being uncomfortable.

My taxi driver: Americans have no social life.

Opatija – DECET – ISSA

Arriving in Zagreb, it was wonderful to feel safe in the greeting of smiling faces and welcoming signs.  Soon I was joined by Nazarkhudo Dastambuev from Tajikstan and his colleagues Jamshed Kurbarov, Gulchehra Kabilova and Lola Boboeva and we began the minivan journey to Opatija.  As we traveled we talked about the importance of quality education, the challenges to healthy childhoods and hopeful futures and the need to take the positive actions we know are up to us.
The landscape was quickly rural, farms, trees.  Mounds became hills became mountains, and the trees  gave way to scrubby bushes and craggy white rocks.  There were glimpses of sea and  brief clearings from the rain.  As we drew closer, the landscape kept changing and finally there was the road curving sharply as we defended into  the town.  The Grand Hotel is right on the sea, so as we waited for rooms, I sat on the terrace and watched the baby sailboat races below and had a beer.  Sarah Klaus, Liana Ghent, Mihaela Ionescu, and Dawn Tankersley rushed through the lobby for hugs on their way to do more planning. 
In the late afternoon I walked along the sea path, through the park, and a bit through town.  Many others were walking.  It is so beautiful and peaceful here.  I chose a nearby Restaurante Casa Tua for a light dinner and local wine and people watching.  As I returned to the hotel, there were many brief and happy reconnections–Eva Izsak, Mark Ginsberg, Nives Milinovica, Suzana Kirandziska and others.
Sunday was a slow starter, registration and then lunch with Marine Mkrtchyan.  Beautiful sunny day so I took a long walk along the promenade, bought maroni chestnuts, stopped a Cafe Hemingway for a beer and more people watching. Everyone was out today with baby carriages and conversation. Tonight the Congress begins with a reception at Hotel Kavner.