Seedlings Educators Collaborative

What Does Seedlings Look Like?

While our summer workshop now has a focus on STEAM, the heart of the program continues to be well encapsulated by this video from the 2013 workshop.

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Since 2005, Seedlings Educators Collaborative has provided professional development, ongoing support and resources to Connecticut educators from diverse school environments. In a supportive and actively engaging setting, educators forge ongoing relationships and community connections and leave with tools to support... Continue Reading →

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"Indeed, this workshop helped me rediscover and reconnect with why I entered teaching, just after a year that tested all my ideals"

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In My Classroom: Into the Woods with Jen Wilson’s Kindergarten

Jen Wilson, kindergarten teacher at Cook Hill School in Wallingford and SEC alumna from 2017, embodies this ethos. This year, she and the school librarian, Anna O’Brien, were awarded a grant from the Wallingford Education Foundation to develop a program they are calling KinderTinker. Modeled after a program started by teachers at Moses Y Beach Elementary School called KinderWoods, Jen and Anna are bringing the learning outside. Each month, Jen’s class of kindergarteners are playing and learning in different natural spaces around Wallingford or on their own school grounds. In these outings, the children have time for extended free play and exploration, as well as structured STEAM based activities that tie into the kindergarten science units.

Supporting Students Through Anxiety-Producing National Events: Two Experts Weigh In

In a meeting with teachers from a variety of schools and grade levels in October, it came up that across the board, it was taking longer for their students to settle into the rhythm of the classroom. Teachers often plan for the first six weeks of school to be focused on developing community and adjusting to new expectations and routines. However, in some years, for a variety of reasons, it just takes longer. It could be related to the personalities of the group. It could be related to changes in your school or program. It could be related to things occurring in the home lives of your students. As much as we as teachers feel we are accountable for all that occurs in our classrooms, the truth is that there are many factors impacting your students’ daily experiences that are beyond our control.

SEC Fellowship at Troup: Integration in PreK

Shandra Patton is our Seedlings Fellow at Augusta Lewis Troup School in New Haven. She teaches preK and is collaborating with kindergarten teacher Gyna Grant and art teacher Rebecca Looney, both two-time participants at the SEC summer workshop, to integrate curriculum and explore process art at various age levels. Below is Shandra's first blog entry describing how one integrated unit emerged in her classroom in the beginning of the year. 

Learning Opportunity: TeachTech

We have learned about an exciting STEAM-related professional development opportunity coming up on Saturday, December 9th, 2017 from 10am-3pm that we would like to share with you: TeachTech is a conference and opportunity for teachers run by Code Haven, a Yale student organization... Continue Reading →

SEC Fellowship at Six to Six

Eva Kibby is our Seedlings Fellow at Six to Six Interdistrict Magnet School in Bridgeport. She has been collaborating with the schools’ preschool team, two of whom attended the Seedlings summer workshop in 2017, to apply their Seedlings thinking in their classroom practice. Below is Eva’s first blog entry about the beginning stages of this collaboration. Carol Barker and Marilyn Della Rocco are both preschool teachers at Six to Six Interdistrict Magnet School. They work with 3 and 4 year olds. After attending Seedlings 2017, they felt a mind shift. The idea of working in and outside with nature is their new norm. One of the big takeaways from the summer experience was from a visit to Common Ground High School. On that trip they observed the playscapes and ideas of ways to enhance the exploration of natural resources.

Meet our Seedlings Fellows!

We are proud to announce that this school year we are piloting an exciting new component of the Seedlings Educators Collaborative: The SEC Fellowship. The SEC Fellowship supports a small number of SEC alumni in their ongoing efforts to implement SEC work in their schools, and in their role as a mentor to similarly motivated SEC alumni within their school. Two overarching goals are to (a) connect the curricular work created during the summer workshop with classroom practices inspired by SEC’s educational philosophy, while meeting the goals of Districts and National Standards, and (b) strengthen collaboration and communication among SEC alumni.

Upcoming Event: Educators’ Open House at the Yale Art Gallery

Educators' Open House coming up at the Yale University Art Gallery Wednesday, October 11th from 5pm-7pm. This would be a wonderful opportunity to learn about the resources the Gallery has to offer teachers and students, as well as reconnect with some fellow SEC alumni. You don't want to miss it! Registration required. RSVP to

SEC Alumna Named CT Teacher of the Year

Congratulations to Erin Berthold on being named Connecticut's 2018 Teacher of the Year!!! Erin teaches first grade at Wallingford's Cook Hill School and was a Seedlings participant in 2017 and 2016. Her dedication to her students, work ethic, and commitment to continued learning shine through in all that she does.

Addressing Real-World Problems: Hurricanes in the Classroom

With all the beautiful weather we’ve been experiencing in Connecticut this September, the extreme weather occurring in other regions of our country may be especially distant in the minds of our students. Additionally, the extent to which students are developmentally prepared to grapple with these calamities will depend on their ages and stages. Regardless, there are developmentally appropriate ways for children across all grade levels to practice becoming engaged, active citizens – especially when experiences are anchored in an authentic, meaningful context that connects content and skills with children’s interests.

Welcome Back!

From all of us at Seedlings, we hope your school year if off to a great start. The first weeks are so full with preparing materials, practicing routines, setting expectations, and building community; often times those exciting new plans for curriculum and projects that we developed over the course of the summer can seem discouragingly out of reach. Take a deep breath, think back to the end of your last school year, remember the growth your students made as they gained trust in you and their environment, and -- importantly -- don't forget that Seedlings is here to continue supporting you through the year. As you delve into the year, here are a few take-aways from Seedlings summer workshop participants that we hope can help you hold onto those big picture goals:

It’s Here!!

You know that feeling of the night before the first day of school? The tables are arranged, the books in order, name tags are waiting to be worn. Now it's just the last few hours of waiting before you meet your new group....That's kind of how we feel the night before a new week of Seedlings!

Full STEAM Ahead at St. Thomas Day School, New Haven

Community connections run deep at Seedlings Educators Collaborative, and not just for the students with Seedlings Workshop alums for teachers! Since many of the Seedlings facilitators and directors live and work in the New Haven area, there are always chances of running into someone, as was the case this spring when St. Thomas Day School fourth grade teacher Maria Freda ran into SEC director Judy Cuthbertson. That chance encounter yielded the following piece, which we wanted to share with you.

Spring Field Trips

Brooksvale Park is teeming with life! We saw thousands of tadpoles, lots of salamanders, a few frogs, turtles, water snakes, and tens of varieties of birds. The pond was truly singing with the sounds of spring. If you were in the water habitats... Continue Reading →

Kindergarten: Where Did our Garden Go? Practice, Policy, and Advocacy at the Bank Street Teaching Kindergarten Conference

On April 21st and 22nd, Bank Street College of Education hosted an inspiring and much-needed conference on teaching kindergarten called “Where Did Our Garden Go? Practice, Policy, and Advocacy.” Over 200 teachers, school leaders, and policy makers from all over the country and world, including Chile, Romania, and Nigeria, gathered in New York City to consider the unique and important role of kindergarten in the life of a child. The conference grew out of deep concern about the push-down of academic standards and pressures placed on Kindergarten teachers and the students they teach, and centered around how we as educators can “push up” from developmentally and experientially informed perspectives to advocate for healthy practices in kindergarten.

Student Reflections on Learning at CSS

Call it project based-learning, 21st century skills, or progressive education – these Cold Spring School students’ reflections on their learning from the fort project illustrate what good teaching looks like. Watch three students share about their experiences and note that they highlight, in their own words, the process of collaborating with peers, problem-solving, learning how to be flexible within their team, acting as entrepreneurs, and using their imaginations – all critical skills in any of these pedagogical frameworks – as essential components of their learning:

In My Classroom: Tapping into Local Resources in Diane Huot’s 1st Grade Classroom

In the summer of 2015, Conte West Hills School first grade teacher Diane Huot attended Seedlings for the first time. On the first day of every SEC summer workshop week, participants learn to see New Haven with fresh eyes through a tour of the city. One of the stops is to Grannis Island, the summer home of the Quinnipiac people, who used the salt marsh as a home base for oystering. Diane was inspired. Here was a rich resource just down the street from her school that was previously unknown to her. She could imagine building her whole curriculum around it, as SEC science facilitator Karen Zwick has done with her 4th and 5th grade class at Cold Spring School – and she did.

In My Classroom: Process Art in Shandra Patton’s PreK Classroom

Step into Shandra Patton’s pre-K classroom at Augusta Lewis Troup School in New Haven, and several things become immediately clear, just by observing the physical space: (a) Children, their interests, and their needs, are the center of the classroom, rather than the teacher; (b) learning is viewed as a process, not an end product; and (c) art is one of the primary means through which Shandra’s students are constructing and sharing knowledge. Although these messages are communicated clearly in many aspects of the classroom – from the materials offered to children to the way the space is arranged – nowhere is it more evident than in the children’s artwork displayed around the room.

In My Classroom: Connecting With Community Around Student Work At CSS

We’ve all been there. You invite an outside expert into the classroom, eager for her to inspire your students and share her expertise, only to find that your students have suddenly forgotten all the expectations you have worked so hard to establish. Or they are more interested in the fluff stuck in the carpet than what this authority has to say. Or the expert misses the mark on the values you’ve cultivated in your group, perhaps suggesting that some things are only of interest to girls and others to boys. Maybe you wondered why you ever thought it was a good idea in the first place. In this post, we will reflect on why it is indeed a worthwhile venture to invite local experts into your classroom, by examining the collaboration between Cold Spring School (CSS) and the Yale School of Architecture (YSoA).

The MY HERO Project

The MY HERO Project is a global online community in which millions of people, young and old, students and professionals, share their original stories, art, audio, and films to celebrate people and organizations making a positive difference in the world. Teachers and students alike will find it a useful tool for class work.

Upcoming Event: In Bloom Conference at Leila Day

Leila Day will be hosting an In Bloom conference in affiliation with Antioch University on Saturday, June 3rd from 9am to 4pm. Hear from key note speakers and local educators about the educational and health benefits of being in the... Continue Reading →

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