CDI Hosts Virtual Teacher Dialogue with Educators from Tanzania

After months of anticipation and sharing of early childhood classroom footage between the Early Childhood Center (ECC) and the Janada L. Batchelor Foundation for Children (JBFC), CDI hosted a video call between ECC and JBFC teachers who met virtually for the first time on June 18. During the call, teachers shared their reactions, thoughts, and questions after seeing each other's classroom footage.

“The collaboration with JBFC is an incredible opportunity for us as educators to think more deeply about what we do on a daily basis and the value that we place on play, the classroom environment, respect for children, and development of community,” shared Lorayne Carbon, Director of the Early Childhood Center.

Chris Gates, JBFC Founder, echoed similar sentiments: “Our teachers walked away so excited and reenergized to make their classrooms better than ever and to get to know their students in a completely new light.”

In a span of a few hours, teachers discussed topics ranging from how to facilitate and support the diverse and individual interests of children in a classroom to learning through play. ECC and JBFC teachers alike found the exchange inspiring.

"I learned new techniques and activities that I can use in my own classroom,” said Ms. Deo, a preschool teacher at JBFC’s Joseph & Mary Schools.

Teachers at the ECC were struck by the values, hopes, and challenges they shared with their fellow educators who are 7,000 miles away.

"The many miles between us did not seem that great, as we are all dedicated to the same things—our desire to learn as teachers and to provide the best school experiences for children that we can", shared Sonna Schupak, lead teacher for fives and sixes at the ECC. Millie Harper, lead teacher for fours and fives at the ECC, added, "I think that some of the challenges teachers face seem to be universal (parents and their expectations, creating spaces to inspire discovery, and meeting the needs of the school's community). While cultural environments play an additional role in our approaches, we all wanted the same things for the children".

This first conversation has left all involved yearning for more dialogue and learning of each other's cultures, environments, and practices. Robbin Hawkins, lead teacher for threes and fours at the ECC, is eager to delve deeper: "I can't wait until the next time. I would like to know what is the teacher/parent relationship like? If and when they see children having difficulty with any task, what is done to help them through the process? What are some of the themes in pretend play with preschoolers?"

Fostering the sharing of ideas and resources among educators is an important aspect of CDI’s mission and expanding this exchange beyond the local and national communities has been an enriching and exciting experience for CDI and ECC. Last summer, CDI and ECC welcomed 20 teachers from Tappan Early Childhood School in Sweden for a visit. The hope is to continue this wonderful collaboration virtually while also planning for the ECC and JBFC teachers to meet in person in the future!