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Dr. Dan Gartrell, Emeritus Professor
Early Childhood and Foundations Education
Bemidji State University, Bemidji Minnesota

Dan has presented over 300 keynotes, workshops, and trainings at national conferences and in many states, Germany, and Mexico. He has done the following topics as addresses and trainings of between 60 minutes and 20 hours in length. They are based on his four books and his column “Guidance Matters” in the NAEYC Journal, Young Children.

A. Dan’s Topics for Keynotes, Break-outs, and Trainings

1. Beyond Discipline to Guidance
Conventional discipline tends to carry the baggage of punishment and to pressure teachers to be technicians rather than professionals. Teachers who use guidance prevent many problems by using developmentally appropriate practice, positive communication skills and affirming relationships with children and families. They teach children to explore problems, rather than punish children for having problems they cannot solve, and guide toward skills that reduce and resolve classroom conflicts. The workshop uses anecdotes and a video clip to explores key concepts and principles in the use of guidance.

2. Building an Encouraging Classroom
An encouraging classroom is a place where children want to be even when they are sick—as opposed to not wanting to be there when they are well. Dan illustrates through anecdotes, video clips, and group discussions the following practices that build an encouraging classroom: leadership techniques including encouragement (not praise), contact talks, and compliment sandwiches; Relationship-building with each child; using developmentally appropriate practice; group-building through class meetings; and working for partnerships with families. This session focuses on techniques that reduce the occurrence of conflicts in the classroom.

3. Maintaining an Encouraging Classroom
Guidance teaches children to solve their problems rather than punishing children for having problems they can’t resolve. In maintaining an encouraging classroom, the teachers uses guidance talks, conflict mediation, class meetings, crisis-management techniques, and comprehensive guidance. Dan discusses these techniques using anecdotes, video clips, and group discussion.

4. The Goals of Guidance: Democratic Life Skills
Guidance is more than keeping children “in line” in kindly ways. Guidance means teaching children the skills they need to function as productive citizens and healthy individuals. These skills, democratic life skills, are the goals of guidance and are the long term abilities that will help our descendants make it into the next century. In brief the skills include the abilities to: express strong emotions in non-hurting ways; make decisions intelligently and ethically; work cooperatively to solve problems; and be accepting of others whatever their unique human qualities. Dan uses practical anecdotes to illustrate and discuss the teaching and learning of democratic life skills

5. Guidance with Boys
Teachers sometimes label “boy behaviors” and boys as rowdy, aggressive, non-compliant, developmentally “slow.” One common teacher reaction is to use traditional “semi-punitive” discipline techniques with boys, accept the non-success of these techniques as inevitable, and hope for fewer boys in next year’s class. The workshop focuses on the need to reexamine “boy behavior,” design educational programs developmentally inclusive of boys, and use guidance techniques in firm but friendly ways that show the acceptance of individual boys that we know is important for all of the children in our program. The session also addresses the fact that less than 20% of elementary school teachers and 5% of preschool teachers are men. The observation that more men teachers are needed is one answer, but not the only answer to helping boys find a welcome place in our classrooms.

6. From Survival to Resilience: The Practice of Liberation Teaching
Children with challenging behaviors continue to be a hot topic with early childhood educators. From a guidance approach Dan looks at working with children who have frequent conflicts. After defining liberation teaching, the session addresses: 1) What frequent conflicts mean for the child, the group and the teacher; 2) Causes of frequent conflicts in children; 3) The effects of negative labeling on the child: stigma. 4) Comprehensive guidance with children who show strong needs mistaken behavior; 5) Support systems for teachers; 6) The importance of liberation teaching for the guidance approach.

7. What Readiness Really is: Not a State of Knowledge but a State of Mind
It is now common knowledge that children’s brains are not fully formed, but continue at a rapid pace of development well into childhood. To use the dated analogy of a four-speed phonograph, while most of us adults function at 16 to 33 RPM using finished, basically obsolete machines, children function at 78 RPM (at least) and are building themselves modern home entertainment systems in the process. Readiness comes about as a result of healthy brain development, a consequence of positive adult-child attachments; meeting of children’s basic needs for safety, belonging, and affection; and nurturing children’s growth need for confidence in learning.

8. Developmentally Appropriate STEM: It’s STREAM! (Science, Technology, Relationships, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics)
The session explores what developmentally appropriate STEM looks like in holistic early childhood education. DA STEM needs to be infused with the added dimensions of relationship-building and the creative arts. Participants analyze how DA STEM learning activities integrate relationship-building and the creative arts in learning experiences. We discuss how relationship-building and the arts enlighten and enliven STEM learning, and how DA STEM guides young children in observant involvement with the world around. The session includes a presentation to introduce the idea, and small group case-study analysis with large group sharing and discussion on this “hot topic” in the early chidlhood field.

9. Building Partnerships with Families.
Guidance depends on a three-way positive relationship of the ECE professional, the child, and one or more members of the child’s family. Dan presents and discusses an approach to building partnerships with family members that encourages movement through four levels of engagement: 1) accepting information; 2) educational involvement with one’s child; 3) program engagement; 4) personal/professional development. Progress through level one to level two is significant for all families in all programs. A higher goal for some family members is levels three or four. (Any ECE professional who started out as a volunteer in a classroom has progressed through level three to level four.) The levels of engagement are an adaptation to early childhood of the work of Joyce Epstein and can serve as a “user-friendly” guide to building partnerships with families. The matter of cultural differences between the ECE professionals and families is highlighted in the session. We use handouts from Dan’s columns, a case study, and a video clip to discuss the teacher’s leadership role in guiding family members to and through the four levels of parent engagement.

10. Developmentally Appropriate Guidance of Young Children
Guidance, as opposed to traditional discipline, helps children learn to solve their problems rather than punishing children for having problems they cannot solve. Dan bases this training on the booklet, “Developmentally Appropriate Guidance of Young Children,” published by the Minn. Association for the Education of Young Children. The training illustrates and teaches about ten principles from the booklet through video clips, anecdotes, small and large group discussions, and the friendly use of humor.

Copies of the user-friendly booklet provide “take-away” materials that early childhood professionals can use in many ways. For copies of the $5 booklet, contact MnAEYC at 651-646-8689 or Dan offers a discount on his speaking fee to help cover the cost of purchasing the booklet for participants. Further discussion about the booklets is just fine.

B. Fees and Costs

Fees and travel costs regarding keynotes, break-out sessions, speaking engagements, and trainings can be negotiated with Dan.

Contact Information (Best method of contact is by email.)

Dr. Dan Gartrell and

Mailing Address: 10,000 Long Lake Dr NE, Bemidji, MN 56601

Phone: 651-222-3509 or 218-766-229