Representatives from Children’s Institute were well represented at last week’s Confederation of Oregon School Administrator’s (COSA) Early Learning Conference in Portland, with staff leading or participating in five sessions—a record!

For those who missed the conference, here’s a roundup of our offerings. Click on the titles to see individual presentation decks. The full conference list and materials are here.


CI’s Director of Programs and former assistant superintendent at Tigard-Tualatin School District Karen Twain co-led an early learning leadership academy session tailored for school administrators.

Twain, along with David Douglas School District principals Kate Barker and Ericka Guynes challenged the historical divide between preschool and K–12 learning. They also discussed how early learning strategies and approaches benefit all students, and offered practical guidance on how to maximize the impact of new and significant funding for early learning coming from the Student Success Act.

The Early Ed Essentials in Action: Stories from Earl Boyles Elementary School

CI’s Director of Research and Strategy Dr. Marina Merrill and principal Ericka Guynes illustrated this foundational approach to early education through examples and stories from Earl Boyles Elementary, the first site of the Early Works initiative.

Informed by data from our Early Works evaluation partners at Portland State University, Dr. Merrill and Guynes shared their experiences and led discussion among participants.

Soobin Oh, CI’s senior early education advisor, led three sessions that focused on various elements of classroom practice and approach:

Anti-Bias Education: Fulfilling the Vision of All Children Feeling Belonging and Significance

Based on a best-selling book by the NAEYC, Oh outlined the four goals of anti-bias education and practical guidance on how to apply these strategies to classrooms, including book and materials selection, how to address the celebration of holidays, and more.

Rethinking Challenging Behavior: Children Do Better When They Feel Better

In this encore performance of last year’s popular session, Oh’s presentation focused on how Positive Discipline and Collaborative Problem Solving can help to address challenging behaviors in the classroom; moving away from a reliance on punitive measures and moving towards a culture of responsibility, teamwork, and compassion.

Children’s Curiosity as a Vehicle for Learning: You Don’t Have to Teach Children to Ask “Why?”

In offering a research-based rationale for how children’s curiosity inspires deep learning, Oh explores how classroom design, material choices, and culture can help support ambitious instruction.

More on Leadership

In addition to CI’s participation in the conference, it’s also worth highlighting the work of keynote speaker, Dr. Steve Tozer, an expert on educational policy from the University of Illinois Chicago. In his review of Chicago Public Schools’ dramatic improvements in student outcomes over the last decade, Dr. Tozer makes a compelling argument for why and how P–3 learning and leadership needs to be a part of any effort that seeks to markedly improve and sustain academic outcomes for all students.  His presentation, Leading for Learning in Early Childhood Education: A Multi-Level Challenge is worth a review.

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