Posts filed under ‘early childhood’

Bank Street’s Getting Ready for Pre-K

Submitted by Elizabeth McKenna ’05

July 25, 2014

This summer I am delighted to have been selected to participate in Getting Ready for Pre-K: An Institute for Educators,upk 2 a groundbreaking opportunity for early childhood educators. The New York City Department of Education and Bank Street College are partnering in the rollout of a teacher training program for educators involved in the Universal Pre-K Initiative.

Over the past two days, Early Childhood educators, many of us who have a current or past affiliation with Bank Street College, gathered together for the first of two facilitator trainings led by Bank Street’s program developers, Nancy Nager and Nancy Gropper. The Dean of the Graduate School Virginia Roach welcomed us and shared her excitement. She expressed her appreciation for everyone’s time and expertise.

Educators, CBO directors, DOE employees, and many more, expressed their joy and excitement over the initiative and were thrilled to be part of the cohort who will implement the curriculum,

The facilitator guide focuses on the importance of welcoming the child and family to their new school setting, while supporting the needs of the individual child in the opening weeks of school.  Upon conclusion of the second facilitator training session on August 4th and 5th, 80 early childhood leaders will have been trained and ready to implement the Institute’s curriculum helping teachers across the city learn to develop a high quality prekindergarten leaning environment.

Bank Street’s commitment to play-based education remains paramount. What a unique and potentially transformative time for the schools, families and communities to celebrate the full potential of the four-year-old child.

July 29, 2014 at 10:50 am Leave a comment

A Student Teacher’s Journey: Follow this Blog

Follow current Bank Street grad student Karen Hawkins on her student teacher journey

August 27, 2012 at 10:01 am Leave a comment

Faculty Respond to NY Times Block Play Story

On November 28, the New York Times published an article discussing the importance of block play in early childhood education. As long-time advocates of open-ended play, Bank Street faculty submitted a response, which was published on December 2. An expanded version of that response appears below.

As early childhood faculty at Bank Street College of Education, we are heartened that the article of November 28 on block building has brought attention to the importance of blocks as an essential educational material.

Lucy Sprague Mitchell, the founder of Bank Street College in 1916, studied children’s block building as a teacher at City and Country School, and recognized its unique value in the education of young children. Block building then became and continues to be an integral part of the teacher preparation curriculum.  Indeed, we are one of the few teacher education institutions in the country that offers a course devoted specifically to block building.

In the current educational climate, opportunities for children to engage in play are being eliminated in many schools, despite the mounting research by neuroscientists, developmental psychologists, physicians, and educators showing the critical role of play in children’s healthy development, physically, intellectually, socially, and emotionally. The benefits of block play flourish only when children are allowed to engage in open-ended, imaginative play and are given the time to explore, experiment and represent their growing understanding of the world.


Nancy Cardwell ’88
Betsy Grob M.S. ’70, Ed.M. ’99
Adrianne Kamsler
Nancy McKeever
Michele Morales
Denise Prince
Rena Rice ’77
Salvatore Vascellaro ’75

December 9, 2011 at 10:04 am Leave a comment

Bank Street in the Wall Street Journal

Bank Street’s own Virginia Casper weighs in on the subject of young children and tantrums in Sue Shellenbarger’s 10/19/11 column at the Wall Street Journal.


Q: My 3-year-old grandson screams in his preschool class, refuses to sit down and acts out often by saying, “No!” His teachers say he is smart. But he is also very stubborn. What can his parents and I do to help him control his behavior? —P.G., Mount Vernon, N.Y.

A: Most children at your grandson’s age are learning to regulate emotions and behavior and to distinguish between wants and needs, says Virginia Casper, developmental psychologist at Bank Street College of Education, New York. As many as 75% of 2- to 3-year-olds have tantrums and say “no” a lot, as they develop a healthy sense of self. Children often lack the skills to express their feelings in words so act out to gain a sense of control, Dr. Casper says.

“Set limits in a clear but humane and loving manner, and help [him] voice his emotions verbally,” she says. Ask his teachers what triggers the behavior and how to work with him, she says. The preschool may not be a good fit if his behavior is different at school and at home, says Rahil Briggs, a psychologist specializing in infants and toddlers at Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, N.Y.

Learn more about Virginia at

October 23, 2011 at 8:40 pm Leave a comment

Report from South Africa

Last July, Laura Zellerbach ’11 and current student Emily Soong journeyed to South Africa to observe and report on the workings of early childcare centers there. Here is their report from the field.

Report from South Africa:

Data Collection for the INNOVA Project- Developing an Environmental Rating Scale for Group Care for the “Under Threes”

Laura Zellerbach (Bank Street College, M.S.Ed Infant and Family Development/Early Intervention ’11)
Emily Soong (Bank Street College, M.S. Early Childhood & Childhood General candidate)

Our arrival in the black African township of Mangaung in Free State, South Africa since July 16th has been observably marked by evident lingering divisions between the old world and new.  Early care and education, which also reflects existing race and social class tensions here, serves as an insightful lens into the disjointed, but still-evolving, amalgamation between this country’s historical strife with development and advancement work.  (more…)

September 16, 2011 at 2:39 pm 1 comment

A “Lead-Able” Moment…With Elephant

posted by Lorraine Yamin ’95, Learning Specialist at The Saul and Carole Zabar Nursery School & Staff Member at Bank Street’s Home and Community Program

Several years ago, when I provided special education consultation to a preschool on the outskirts of New York City, I sat in on a parent meeting rife with tensions.  The director and teachers where meeting with some parents to talk about the recommendation that their child receive additional support services for the upcoming school year.  The child was doing well in his individual therapies, but at school, in a group setting, he was missing many social opportunities because of language and motor delays.  He was not interacting with the other children and therefore, not experiencing a sense of competence in social interactions.  The teachers were having difficulty capturing all the possible moments to help him, and felt that a small amount of time with a special education, support teacher, would serve the child well.  The parents were angry because they felt this recommendation was not warranted.

Additionally, the teaching team, director and myself, knew the details of a defining and painful narrative for this family.  The child is question was a twin, and his sister had a rare and severe medical disability.  Parenthood for this family began in the Neonatal Infant Care Unit (NICU) of the hospital.  Preschool for their little girl was an intense, center-based, medical experience.  Their son was doing well in his individual services, and was in a mainstream preschool — he was “the healthy and good one.”

We met in the director’s office; sitting in chairs placed in a circle.  In an empathic, intuitive, moment that set an inviting and gentle tone, the director said, “You know, last night I was thinking about our meeting and I thought of that metaphor with the elephant.”  She recounted the famous parable of the blind men and the elephant; the one in which each man touches and perceives a part of an elephant and, incorrectly, concludes the overall truth based on only their individual experience.  The director continued by saying, “I think this metaphor could be of use to us…we each have an experience and a perception of [your son], but we need to put our perceptions together in order to try and understand the whole picture.”

This opening was more than an ice-breaker.  It created an emotional space in which each person who cared about the boy could share their experiences and observations.  It was at once welcoming, and containing.  The parents talked about the progress in his individual therapies and we all heard and shared that joy.  The teachers talked about the child’s strengths and then described the struggle with socialization, one they truly felt he could and would grow beyond.  However, mention of the boy’s current struggle, triggered memories of the parents’ experience in the NICU with his twin.  With effort and emotion, mom managed to say, “This is not suppose to happen, he is the good one.  He is the healthy one.  It is his sister that has been so hard…”

The team took a moment and allowed the pain to have its time.  Someone said, “We cannot imagine how hard the experience has been with your daughter and we are so sorry.”  After a moment, with tissues and deep breaths, we were able to shift back to their son, and were able to provide an opportunity for differentiation.  We spoke of our recommendation for additional classroom support; a recommendation that, in our opinion, would bolster the strengths emerging in their son’s individual therapies.  We assured the parents that we would not force this recommendation and were comfortable if they decided to decline it.  With some time, they decided they were comfortable with the plan, and it proved to be a wonderful source of support that following preschool year; a year in which he flourished.

We often speak of “teachable moments,” but this piece of parent work, in my mind, was able to occur because the director embraced the complexity of the scenario and captured a “lead-able moment,” with metaphor.

For the past 20 years Lorraine has been working with young children who have a range of special needs. She has worked in group homes, hospital- and center-based therapeutic nursery schools, mainstream preschools and Head Start. She is the Learning Specialist at The Saul and Carole Zabar Nursery School at The JCC in Manhattan and is on staff at The Bank Street Home and Community Program. Lorraine graduated from Bank Street College of Education in 1995 with a Masters degree in Early Childhood Special Education and recently completed her MSW at Hunter College School of Social Work.

May 15, 2011 at 6:21 pm 1 comment

Connections and Curriculum in the Stars

posted by Alisa Algava ‘08, leader of a small Hudson Valley progressive school

“Somebody has to go polish the stars,
They’re looking a little bit dull.
Somebody has to go polish the stars,
For the eagles and starlings and gulls
Have all been complaining they’re tarnished and worn,
They say they want new ones we cannot afford.
So please get your rags
And your polishing jars,
Somebody has to go polish the stars.”
~Shel Silverstein (A Light in the Attic)

On Friday morning I took off my shoes along with the Downstairs kids (our 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds) and their teachers and crawled through a dark tunnel into an inflated dome that filled the library in the Carriage House at my school.  Everyone found a comfy spot and then Brad, starman and teacher extraordinaire, turned off the lights as he turned on the stars.  This was the fifth time this week our kids visited StarLab.  But it was only my first time.  And what an experience it was.

During the 45 minutes we spent together inside that indoor planetarium, our 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds asked questions and shared the depth of their knowledge.  And they completely blew me away.  “Brad, this is Caleb.  I saw Betelguese yesterday night.”  “Brad, it’s Sadie.  Where is the sea serpent?”  Brad asked the name of the constellation known as the hunter.  “Orion!” they all called out.  “It’s Joshi, you see Betelguese, it’s red, and find Orion the hunter.”  “Brad, this is Asa.  From Draco the Dragon, I saw another dragon.”

Why do we do StarLab?  It is one of those spiral curricula in which kids experience the same structure (and even much of the same content and skills) year after year, but are asked to delve deeper and deeper as they get older.  They get the opportunity to do this every day for an entire week – it’s about gaining confidence and skills through daily practice and routine.  It’s about gaining a comfort and even mastery with the vocabulary and the language and also with the concepts of where we are in the universe (in developmentally-appropriate ways, of course).  Our kids can actually identify constellations.  I learned to do that at the age of 18 and it’s a powerful experience.

While in some ways this may seem like we’re taking a week out of the “regularly scheduled program,” in reality, this is a core component of our kids’ experience at our school.  It is yet another way for our children to think about who we are in the world.  What do teachers do in order to help our students get the most out of this experience?  We support their learning outside of StarLab by making connections to space, stars, planets, myths, and anything else we can think of.  Are there books to read?  Art projects to engage in?  Writing to do?  Stories to tell?  Constellation maps to study?  Of course.

Our Downstairs kids learned and read poems about stars (including the one about polishing the stars that they read to Brad!).  Some of our Emperor Penguins (8-, 9-, and 10- year-olds) learned Native American tales about the planets and the stars and then became storytellers as they told them to all the groups inside StarLab.  The Authors (5-, 6-, and 7-year-olds) learned that our Sun is a star, planets orbit the Sun, there are different kinds of stars, stars are huge, huge, huge, and different stars are different distances from Earth.  All of our kids heard myths and thought about what makes a story a story and about how people name the stars in cultures all around the world.  Equally as important, everyone in our school shared an experience this week that brought us together.  Kids from age 3 to age 18 now have a common language and understanding about stars and constellations and stories.  The stars are powerful and we are connected to each other in powerful ways.

Alisa Algava graduated from Bank Street’s Leadership for Educational Change program in 2008. For the past 15 years, she has taught and learned in public, private, and charter schools in NY, NJ, and RI. She has posted on the Alumni Blog about her experiences leading and learning in a small progressive school. Alisa loves learning. She loves moderating The Alumni Blog. And she really loves her nephew.

March 20, 2011 at 11:18 am Leave a comment

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Some of Our Past Bloggers

Alisa Algava ‘08, leader of a small Hudson Valley progressive school
Gloria Arenson ’58, psychotherapist
Bill Ayers ‘84, UIC professor, Chicago
Fred Baumgarten ‘84, writer/musician/naturalist/father
Keith Berman '03, founder/president of Options for College and Bank Street’s LinkedIn moderator
David Bowles ’08 (SFC ’93), museum educator at the Rubin Museum of Art
Elena Canaras ‘07, Special Education teacher, Hawaii
Virginia Casper, Bank Street faculty member
Jim Clay ‘88, director of a Washington DC Quaker preschool
Mary DeCamp Cotterall ‘87, Reading Specialist, Michigan
Judy Coven ’77, retired public school teacher and former Antioch University faculty member
Leslie Day '93, adjunct instructor at Bank Street and author of Field Guide to the Natural World of New York City
Mary Louise (Molly) Day ‘76, Lab School teacher, Chicago
Liezel de La Isla ‘99, Prague International School teacher
Diane Trister Dodge '70, founder and president of Teaching Strategies, Inc.
Meghan Dunn ’08, 3rd grade teacher, Brooklyn
Steven Evangelista ’01, co-director Harlem Link Charter School, NYC
Janine Fetters ‘02, Senior Associate of Parent Engagement at NACCRRA
Dena Florczyk '88, middle school teacher and founder/director of The Nigerian School Project
Hollee Freeman '94, writes about parenting issues for the alumni blog and was featured on BSCAA's April 2012 Career Panel
Ellen Galinsky '70, is President and Co-Founder of Families and Work Institute and author of Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs
Joanne Ruvolo Gannett ‘84, Columbia College art history professor, Chicago
Joan Goldstein ‘67, sociologist and educator
Margot Hammond, Director of the Center for Early Childhood Professionals
Carol Hillman ‘67, early childhood educator, author, and Long Trip co-leader
Pam Jones ‘05, Bank Street advisor and instructor
Lee Klinger Lesser ‘87, trainer for the Parent Services Project
Preminda Langer ‘97, teacher trainer
Claire Milam ’97, life coach, Austin, Texas
Rabin Nickens ‘03, Speaker, Trainer and Educational Consultant
Beth Norford ‘89, consultant and former School for Children teacher
Susy Ogden ‘97
Marion Palm ‘95, Leadership in the Arts alum, writing tutor, poet and singer
Jessica Poser, assistant professor of art education at UIC, Chicago
Jesse Pugh '76, BSCAA President
Meg Rauen ‘06, former Chicago elementary school teacher, NY
Linda Reing, Bank Street Director of Alumni Relations
Rosalind Rothman '62, retired NYC teacher and guidance counselor
Kyla Ryman '92/'97, educational coach and consultant
Ariel Sacks ‘06, middle school teacher, Brooklyn, NY
Linda Appleman (Guidall) Shapiro ‘81, psychotherapist and author
Barbara Silver ‘80, literacy consultant and former NYC first grade teacher
Andrea Penny Spencer, former Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Bank Street
Debbie Stone ‘84, former teacher/co-director of High Valley School
Rachel Theilheimer ‘74, chair of teacher education at BMCC/CUNY
Theodore Timpson ’05, founder/president of Young Spirit Foundation
Eleanor Traubman '95, is Editor in Chief of Creative Times, a blog which promotes NYC's performing, visual and literary arts
Allison Warren '08, new mom, recent grad, and early childhood teacher
Max Weinberg ‘03, Francis Parker School teacher, Chicago
Ted Wells ‘07, 4th grade teacher at The Park School, Brookline, MA
Tracy Wiessbrod ’03, kindergarten teacher and stay-at-home mom

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