Forum Agenda

September 24, 2020 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM PDT (11:00 AM - 7:00 PM EDT)

8:00 – Welcome
8:30 – Breaking Systemic Barriers: Race and Equity in Education
A Provocation by Aaliyah Samuel, EdD
It is no secret that the U.S. education system was designed for a population that it no longer exclusively serves. Today, our classrooms are increasingly diverse, the workforce is steadily changing and so are the needs of our students and their families. Worse, the systemic and institutional barriers that have long plagued education are exacerbated by the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis across systems of health, education, housing and transportation. During this session, Dr. Samuel will shine a light on how assessments have been used to both empower and suppress students of color throughout history. She will also discuss how this practice of assessments feeds directly into the systems we know as the “preschool to prison pipeline,” and how becoming a systems thinker can help break the systems that have perpetuated this cycle.
9:00 – Forum Dialogue
9:20 – Large Group Debrief and Q&A with Dr. Samuel
10:00 – Break
10:15 – Seeing the Big Picture: Using the Iceberg
11:30 – THINK! Break
12:30 – Framing the EC System: Panel Presentation
Hear from a group of highly-regarded panelists as they share their perspectives, hopes and ideas about the early childhood care and education system.
1:00 – Panelist-Led Breakout Sessions
Each panelist will lead a breakout session. Participants will have the opportunity to choose which breakout they would like to attend.
Inspiring Action through Parent Advocacy: Paving the Path for Parent Voice at the U.S. Capitol
Facilitated by Amber & Travis Jones
Join Arizona parent advocates Amber and Travis Jones, as they share their experience as volunteer parent advocates with Child Care Aware of America. During their time as parent advocates, Congress passed historical increases to the Child Care and Development Block Grant. They invite you to hear how one national organization successfully inspired and supported a diverse group of parents from across the country to share their child care stories to influence federal policy.
Integrating Early Learning and K-12 Systems: Parts of a Whole for Educational Success
Facilitated by Julie Montali
As public school systems house more and more preschool programs, it becomes increasingly obvious that solutions to K-12 issues can largely be found in these colorful rooms right on their campuses. Early childhood education stands as both part of the larger educational system, as well as its own. With traditional public education system challenges of low achievement, inadequate, irrelevant, and often boring instruction, and lack of culturally responsive teaching, districts may discover the change agent within their own, yet frequently disconnected, early learning “sub-system.” When well-integrated, the early learning programs bolster success in the early grades and even further for college, career and life readiness. The articulation and transition between the ECE and K-12 systems for children and families strengthen both systems and unify them into one whole and continuous system. By tackling the commonly-held belief systems of district leaders and demonstrating the value of high-quality programs for preschool children, Julie Montali, Director of Early Childhood for Twin Rivers Unified School District in Sacramento, CA, helps educational leaders create a higher regard and synergy for theseprograms which are potentially the most critical change agent fornumerous students in education today.
Early Childhood for Everyone? System Dynamics for Better Decision-Making
Facilitated by Dr. Sara Chung
Well-meaning policies in early childhood can backfire. For instance, many believe the answer to enhancing access to early childhood is to create more seats in centers. Creating more seats without bolstering the pipeline of teachers, however, can diminish quality over time. Why? Systems are interconnected — an intervention in one part of the system feeds back onto the system to make things worse over time. In this session, led by Dr. Saras Chung, participants will learn about community listening paired with system dynamics simulation modeling to test interventions on the early childhood system in St. Louis.
Building Bridges and Breaking Down Silos through Systems Thinking
Facilitated by Betsy Lin
Iowa will share their story, led by educational program consultant Betsy Lin, about how they are working to build systems thinkingcapacity in early childhood leaders across the state. Topics will include how they got started, cross-sector partnership development, the value of group mapping and other visual tools, leverage actions for sustainable results and leadership development at all levels. Participants will be encouraged to interact and connect with their own examples, experiences and questions about systems thinking approaches to impactful change.
There’s No Going Back: Child Care After COVID-19
Facilitated by Rhian Allvin & Ann Terrell
NAEYC chief executive officer, Rhian Allvin, and president, Ann Terrell will share how our nation’s early childhood education programs have been navigating structural cracks and financial cliffs for decades. The COVID-19 pandemic has made these cracks and cliffs unavoidable, putting our programs into free fall. If our economy is to recover, it will require a reimagined approach to financing and structuring the systems that support high-quality child care. The pandemic has laid bare the need to finally resolve the fundamental challenges that have confronted us for decades—those which, if resolved appropriately, will support a strong American workforce and economy, propel far more children into high-quality child care, and ensure the essential status of early childhood educators is permanently reflected by increased investments in their education and compensation. Join us for a discussion to talk about the real barriers facing the system and the possibilities for transformation that can come from crisis.
1:45 – Break
2:00 – Connecting with Stories from the Field: Breakout Sessions
Building a Cadre of Systems Leaders in State Offices of Early Learning
Facilitated by Jana Martella & Tracy Benson
This session will explore the development, implementation and lessons learned from the CEELO Leadership Academy. The academy was designed to support knowledge and skill development in individual leaders to enable them to successfully build and sustain high-quality systems that implement evidence-based practices, resulting in equitable outcomes for the young children in their states. The Academy grew and evolved over five cohorts, incorporating the Habits and competencies of systems thinking and spreading these skills across the U.S. Leaders gained a clear understanding of the interconnections that make up systems and enable them to identify disparities in their systems. In addition, they learned to implement specific actions that addressed disparities head on. Becoming a systems thinking leader is a personal learning journey, starting with a commitment to use the self as an instrument of change to produce intended results; mastering the skills of adaptive leadership; becoming a systems thinker; being results-based and data-driven; becoming a powerful communicator and collaborator; and finally, bringing attention to and acting on disparities within the early education system. This session will be provided by Jana Martella who co-led the Leadership Academy with CEELO colleagues over six years, and Tracy Benson who brought the concepts of systems thinking alive to all five cohorts and provided culminating and more intensive training-of-trainers that deepened and expanded the impact of systems thinking across the map.
Futures Thinking for More Equitable Early Childhood Systems
Facilitated by Katie King & Maria Romero
Systems thinking and futures thinking is a powerful combination in our efforts to create more just and equitable futures for young children and families. Katie King and Maria Romero of KnowledgeWorks will introduce key concepts of futures thinking and facilitate a dialogue about how participants can incorporate it into systems thinking habits and practices. Participants will leave the session with new tools and discussion prompts that will enable collaborative conversations with their system stakeholders about creating more equitable futures.
Leading with Systems Thinking for Chicago’s Youngest Learners
Facilitated by Bryan Stokes II
In this session, facilitated by Bryan Stokes II, Chief of Early Childhood Education at Chicago Public Schools, participants will discover how the third largest school district in the U.S. is creating a system that maintains high quality early childhood learning for young children and families. Bryan will share his experiences building early childhood systems and structures that support:
  • strong community partnerships
  • diverse stakeholder engagement
  • equitable and high quality educational opportunities for all children
  • workforce development and commitment
Bryan Stokes was a Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) Fellow (2015) and a CEELO Facilitator in Training. It is during his experience with CEELO that Bryan further developed his skills as a systems thinker which he actively uses in his leadership role at Chicago Public Schools.
Cultivating High-Quality ECE: Results from the Children
Facilitated by Mary Quinnan & Joan Yates
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) believes that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive. To that end, WKKF and the Waters Center for Systems Thinking partnered to work with communities to create conditions in which vulnerable children can begin to realize their full potential in school and life. Join Mary Quinnan and Joan Yates of the Waters Center as they share their three year journey in Alabama and Kentucky to build local systems thinking capacity through the use of systems thinking Habits and tools with children 3 - 8 years old, their teachers, school administrators, and community members. Educators from the school districts involved will share some of their students' work.
From Personal Growth to Growing Others
Facilitated by Marcia Zatarain
Marcia Zatarain’s systems thinking journey began as a classroom teacher when she sought additional ways to help her students think with clarity and share their thinking with others. She applied systems tools in a variety of creative ways in literature, during play and at circle time. Marcia could see the thinking her students were doing and they could see their own thinking displayed throughout her classroom. Marcia grew as an early childhood professional and at the same time continued to develop her systems thinking capacity. Now as a center director, Marcia uses the same tools she used with 3-to-5 year old children with her adult colleagues. Whether looking for ways to solve complex staffing problems or helping parents learn to see their child’s perspective, Marcia’s deep, embedded understanding of systems thinking influences her work on a daily basis — learn how during this engaging breakout session.
3:00 – Final Large Group Session: Continuing on Your Learning Pathway
4:00 – End of Forum
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