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Reaching for Inspired Teaching: An Early Learning Practice Intensive To Realize Ambitious Instruction for Young Learners

Reaching for Inspired Teaching: An Early Learning Practice Intensive To Realize Ambitious Instruction for Young Learners


Course Description

Inspired teaching moves beyond standardized curriculum and proficient early education implementation, engaging adults in thoughtful, responsive practices that lead to the creation of vibrant learning communities where children and adults explore the world as learning partners. This 4-day Intensive will explore the elements of “Ambitious Instruction,” considering the effects of early learning experiences that meaningfully connect to children’s lives, that include and respond to individual needs, and that provide intellectually complex opportunities for children to learn through experiences that engage children’s capabilities. Participants will engage in critical reflection on personal professional practices and reflect on ways to deepen their engagement in the early learning classroom community. Participants in this session must commit to continued participation in an online peer learning circle once a month, over the 11 months following the summer institute.

Course Objectives

During the Institute, participants will:

  • Critically examine the connections that drive learning for children during the early childhood period and in early learning environments.
  • Compare strategies for inclusive and responsive practices that build resilience and support healthy brain development by honoring children’s languages and cultures, meeting individual and group needs, and creating a learning community that offers a haven from toxic stress and trauma.
  • Research and develop implementation plans that create complex learning opportunities and experiences that are rich in concepts, feedback and language, rooted in project, stories, studies and play, and that celebrate inquiry, construction and creative expression.


During the online PLC that follows the Institute, participants will:

  • Engage in in-depth study and critical examination of ongoing teaching practices over the course of year long participation in an online professional learning community to build instructional skill and confidence.
  • Increase confidence and skill using video to exchange critical feedback on their teaching practices.



Dr. Christyn Dundorf began her career in ECE as a preschool teacher and then Education Coordinator for Head Start. She earned her Ph.D. at the University of Rochester, exploring the role of language comprehension in early literacy. In Oregon, Dr. Dundorf coordinated the initial implementation of the Oregon Registry credentialing system as well as other professional development and mentoring initiatives at the Oregon Center for Career Development in Childhood Care and Education. She has 15 years of Community College teaching experience as ECE faculty and department chair, with a particular focus on professionalization of the ECE workforce. Dr. Dundorf is currently Director of Outreach and Professional Development for Teaching Preschool Partners as well as a seniors partner with Early Learning Consultant Group.