Diversity In Action Mini Conference

Diversity In Action Mini Conference

One of LEARN's Early Childhood Coordinators, Maria Jose Beteta, attended the Greater New Haven Region Chapter's "Diversity in Action" Mini Conference. She led a Breakout Session: "Identity Projects as a Source of Learning." Participants explored how to identify children's inquiries about identity, how to support research with developmentally appropriate tools, and multiple ways to document their process.

Insights from Maria:

hat Led to you Presenting

I believe in the importance (urgency) of supporting educators to explore fundamental concepts such as identity and sense of belonging within early childhood settings. As adults we have the power to choose the type of conversations we have with children and other educators. It is our responsibility to face some “uncomfortable” conversations such as differences, cultural background, family structures, because they are part of who we are. Identity projects in Early Childhood Education are a deep source of learning opportunities and benefits on children’s development and meaningful growth, yet somehow they are not included as a relevant content in the curriculum.

Impact of the Session

  • Participants faced the urgency to talk about concepts such as Identity or Sense of belonging with children and families.
  • Educators realized that not all adults know how to support these conversations.
  • Educators realized that Identity projects and learning can happen together.
  • Learning is more meaningful when is connected to children’s identity and cultural background.
  • A project based approach or following an emergent curriculum (based on children’s questions) offers more learning opportunities and exceeds standards or DAP expectations.

Outcomes From the Session

  • Understand the benefit of Identity projects.
  • Explore the multiple strategies to follow up DEI inquiries
  • Discover the importance of offering children multiple means of communication
  • Approach learning as a process rather than as a product.
  • Family engagement is beneficial to support children’s learning

Next Steps

  • Connect with some educators who want to receive training and coaching on culturally relevant pedagogies and strategies.
  • Share content with colleagues, educators, and facilitators who will be allies in the field.
  • Deepen the research and connect with experiences within the LEARN region.

What It Means to the Agency

As LEARN we are ready to not only talk about Diversity and Inclusion, but to create safe spaces for dialogue and listening. We are professionals that have been touched in multiple ways by this issue, and we are not afraid to speak up and be the voice of whom might be in silence. It is our role to support providers achieve quality and implement best practices, not only in terms of benchmarks and curriculum, but also in making a commitment to create a school environment that respects and values diverse experiences and perspectives, contributes to the education and personal growth of all students, and ultimately prepares students to thrive in a diverse and complex world.

How this will define your work and the work of the participants moving forward

For about 5 years I have identified that my role as an educator is to help create safe spaces that values diversity and include children’s unique perspectives and voice in the curriculum. I believe that all children should have equal access to rich educational opportunities that are aligned with the best quality practices possible. Quality of education should not be offer to some but to everyone. This is the main reason why I decided to support quality improvement practices while living in Kentucky, and it is the reason why I keep this work in Connecticut. I will continue to bring important topics to the conversation, as I have realized they are often forgotten by the system’s expectations. I will move forward on my research and start to deepen my understanding on how Connecticut experiences DEI issues.

For information on how you can help the CTAEYC and support high quality early learning, visit: https://www.ctaeyc.org/