2015 NAEYC Conference - An Opportunity of a Lifetime

by Brandon Belmore - U of Wisconsin - Stout

In November 2015 I had the opportunity of a lifetime, a chance to attend the National NAEYC conference. I was selected along with a fellow classmate Joe Raygor, to co-present with Dr. Jill Klefstad and Lindsay Barnhart. Our presentation was on the topic of High Impact Practices used in the classroom to retain future teachers. It was a great opportunity to share my ideas and experiences and also hear many other presentations. This helped me grow as a student and future teacher. It was truly an honor to be a part of such a large event and surrounded by people with the same career path as me.

When I first got to Florida I did not know what to expect. Everything was a new experience to me, so I went into the conference totally open-minded. One of the first parts of the week was creating an interview movie clip for Ready Rosie. The interview question was “What do you think a male can bring to an early childhood education classroom?” I have been asked this question numerous times but never with a camera in my face and a recording crew working around my response. I thought about what I would like to say and felt like different leadership styles were important to talk about. Students look up to male teachers in a different way than female teachers, and males are also able to make a different connection with their students because of it.

The interview can be found here.

The next item on the agenda was watching presentations given by people in the education field from all over the world. The presentation that stuck out the most to me was, “The Cardboard Challenge”, a presentation given by Ruby Bridges. It was about the challenges she went through as an African-American student and how men are important to the early childhood education industry. It was interesting to hear different perspectives from people all over the world. I was happy I was able to connect with so many individuals. Everybody was very friendly and eager to start a conversation. Many ideas that they shared were things I have not even thought about before. I believe I can bring the ideas I learned to my future classroom and become a better-rounded teacher.

The most important part of the trip was the presentation we were selected to give in front of many teachers, professors and students. Our presentation focus was on High Impact Teaching Practices. My focus was sharing my experience being Dr. Jill’s teacher assistant in a high impact classroom. We had a full crowd that seemed to be engaged and full of questions. After our presentation was done we had numerous compliments and many people who wanted to stay around and ask more questions. It was a great experience to be a part of something that went so well.

Overall our NAYEC trip was one of the best experiences of my life. I was able to meet and share information with men in this female dominant career. It was reassuring to see how many men that were there are doing great things and working as hard as they can to make sure that young students are all given a quality education. I met many people who I was able to swap information with and hopefully keep in touch with to further my career. I will be able to take the things I learned from the NAYEC conference into my classroom and use them for the rest of my life. It was one step closer to becoming the teacher I want to be and a reminder to myself that I took the right path.