Creativity and Innovations — Fall Staff Development Day
By Ilyssa Silverman, Assistant Teacher
Bing Nursery School teachers gathered in the multipurpose room last fall for the initial portion of fall staff development day. Topics of the day included basic materials use, emergency training, parent meeting management and workshops on brainstorming, making books and water play. The daylong event concluded with visitors from a local children’s museum.
A video on emergency preparedness was first on the morning’s agenda, followed by a discussion led by Bing director Jeanne Lepper and assistant director Jennifer Winters on the use of basic materials — block, clay, easel painting, sand and water — a core element of the program at Bing. In preparation for initial parent meetings Winters reviewed examples of developmental histories
Then, all moved to East Room where workshop leaders Jeff Grant and Kate Burch from Palo Alto-based IDEO’s product development group led exercises in effective brainstorming. The crux of the lesson was to suspend judgment, putting even the most ridiculous idea on the table in hope that it will inspire ideas in others. “There is no bad idea,” they explained. “There are ideas that may not be possible or practical, but they all have the potential to inspire an idea that will be.”
After lunch all reassembled first for a bookmaking workshop led by Margaret Miller, a parent in Center PM. Miller pushed staff thinking beyond the traditional “folded construction paper and staples” model and suggested novel ways to create books — with chop sticks, hole punches, pipe cleaners, ribbons and string — and to inspire Bing’s young writers as well.
Next, school librarian and teacher Nancy Verdtzabella demonstrated innovations in the curriculum area of water play. After she talked the staff through the use of funnels, large basins, measuring tools and pipes to create an elaborate water play setup, all staff were ready to develop new water play ideas.
Finally, Palo Alto Junior Museum director Rachel Meyer, exhibit director Darin Wacks, and fellow collaborator and Bing parent Evan Brooks presented some of their past and present exhibits. They talked about the creative process that goes into the museum’s impressive exhibits including the PAJM’s interactive auditory experiences, large light tables and life-size puzzles. The team showed Bing staff how their creative brainstorming can result in some remarkable design ideas and materials for young children, thus rounding out a day of new ideas for staff to share with each other and children.