I’ve been in the early childhood field for 25 years.

 

Hi. I'm Barb. I'm the creator of the Transform Challenging Behavior Online Conference (a free online event that I produced for early childhood professionals like you!), a conference speaker, a writer, and an online course creator.

My mission is to support teachers and center directors and invite you to work with me to transform the high incidence of challenging behavior we are increasingly seeing in early childhood classrooms...and to have fun doing it!

I started out as a teacher’s assistant in a small, independently owned child care center and I’ve been a toddler teacher, a preschool teacher, and a preschool special ed teacher.  

As a preschool special education teacher I first had my own classroom and then worked as a special education itinerant teacher (SEIT) in New York and had the joy of working in many different programs including many Head Start Programs in Brooklyn (yes, I’m name dropping cause I’m a little bit partial to Head Start). 

I was a college professor for 8 years – teaching both early childhood and early childhood special education classes – at Brooklyn College/CUNY and then at California State University, Fresno. 

In Fresno I had the honor of directing the Joyce M. Huggins Early Education Center, a Reggio-inspired program that serves as a model for early childhood practice in California’s Central Valley. I got to work with a truly exceptional group of teachers and two fabulous fellow administrators and I would not be doing what I am doing now without them. I will be forever grateful and changed by having had that opportunity.

I’ve been through NAEYC accreditation both as a teacher (shout out to the University Minnesota Child Development Center back in the 90’s!) and more recently as a center director (WOAH did things get tougher in the last 20 years!) I’ve also been through QRIS reviews, and that’s no joke either!

I am a certified Pre-K CLASS Observer and Trainer. Need help with high quality interactions across the domains? I’m on it.

I hold a M.Ed. in Early Childhood Special Education and an Ed.D. in Early Childhood both from Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City. 


MY APPROACH

I teach the tried and true strategies. I help with behavior plans. But the real magic happens when we use play and the theater arts. 

By tapping into children’s propensity for play we can work wonders with even the most “difficult children”. We can motivate them to want to listen, cooperate and participate. 

I teach improv-based play-support. It’s a method I developed as a special education teacher while studying at the East Side Institute in New York City. If I had one thing to teach you it would be this. I have used it to connect with all sorts of children, with and without diagnosed disabilities. Children who are oppositional, hard-to-connect with, ones who I’d find myself in constant power struggles with. I’ve used it with children with Down’s Syndrome, Autism, and developmental delays .To help them self-regulate. To learn to play cooperatively with peers. It’s often a back door into preventing challenging behavior and ultimately transforming it. 

As a professor I conducted several research studies investigating how oral storytelling and the theater arts could promote inclusion and prevent challenging behavior. Integrating the theater arts is a key practice in preventing challenging behavior and I guide teachers in doing just that.  Using a puppet. Telling an interactive oral story. Utilizing creative drama. It truly can feel like magic the way these activities can transform your circle time, support children during transitions, and promote children’s social-emotional development.

Want to learn more about my approach?

Want to meet at a conference or see where I hang out?


Looking for a more traditional ABOUT section?

Want to know about my credentials and experience? I’m a certified early childhood and special ed teacher in both NY and CA. Contact me if you want my resume. 

Location

I’m based out of LA. I’m in New York regularly. Get in touch to see when I might be coming to a city near you. Most services available via phone and video conferencing.

WHAT ELSE DO YOU WANT TO KNOW?

 

There’s a crocodile! Training preschool teachers to engage children through interactive oral storytelling
Storytelling, Self and Society
, 11(2), 183-210.

 

What is the state of play? 
2016. International Play Journal, 5(2), 119-122. 
 

Playing and improvising with challenging behavior: Creating new performances in early childhood special education
2014. Advances in Early Education & Day Care, 18, 87-111.
 

Using improvisational play to support social skills. 
2014. Teaching Young Children, 7(3), 8-10. 
 

Improvisational play interventions: Fostering social-emotional development in inclusive classrooms
2013. Young Children, 68(3), 62–69.
 

The theater arts and early childhood education
2012. In C. Korn-Burstyn (Ed.), Young children and the arts: Nurturing imagination and creativity (199–140). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.
 

Play and culture studies 11: Play and performance
2011. With Carrie Lobman, Ed.D. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

 
 

 

Develop Confidence with Challenging Behavior Using Play, Theater-Arts, and Mindset Techniques.
McCormick Leadership Connections National Conference.
Wheeling, IL.
May 10-12, 2018

 

How to shift program culture so that everyone is excited to try new strategies to prevent challenging behavior.
California Association for the Education of Young Children Conference.
Pasadena, CA.
April 19, 2018

 

Transforming Challenging Behavior in Our Programs Through Mindset, Play, and the Theater Arts.
Riverside County Office of Education State Preschool Meeting on Challenging Behavior. Riverside, CA.
March 15, 2018
Invited Speaker

 

How to Shift program Culture so that Everyone Is Excited to Try New Strategies to Prevent Challenging Behavior.
California Head Start Association Education Conference.
Costa Mesa, CA.
February 7-9, 2018

 

Become a Behavior Magician and Transform Challenging Behavior in Your Classroom
Educating the Heart, 6th Annual Social Emotional Conference.
Blue Bell, PA.
January 20, 2018
Keynote Speaker

 

Get the Confidence and Skills You Need to Transform Challenging Behavior in Your Program Today.
The Young Child Conference and Expo.
Los Angeles, CA.
January 17-19, 2018

 

“Nothing I try with this child is working!” Get the tools you need to transform challenging behavior.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children Conference (NAEYC). Atlanta, GA.
November 15-18, 2017

 

Transform How You Approach Challenging Behavior Using Play and the Theater Arts.
The Washington Association for the Education of Young Children Conference (WAEYC).
Seattle, WA.
October 26-28, 2017
Invited Speaker

 

Transform How You Approach Challenging Behavior.
The Washington Association for the Education of Young Children Conference (WAEYC).
Seattle, WA.
October 26-28, 2017
Plenary Speaker

 

Become a Behavior Magician and Transform Challenging Behavior in Your Classroom.
Social Emotional Wellness for the Young Child – The Leading the Way Early Childhood Educators Conference. Stephens Point, WI.
October 7, 2017
Keynote Speaker

 

Transforming our Relationship to Challenging Behavior.
Imua FamilyServices Transforming Challenging Behaviors Conference.
September 9, 2017
Keynote Speaker

 

Developing social-emotional skills through play.
Region 4 Preschool Summer Institute.
Houston, TX.
July 17-19, 2017
Invited Speaker

 

“I like to work with kids that hit, bite and do not listen”: Transforming challenging behavior.
Young Child Expo and Conference.
New York, NY
May 2-5, 2017

 

Helping teachers transform challenging behavior using play and the theater arts. National Coalition of Campus Children’s Centers.
Long Beach, CA
March 24-26, 2017

 

“I like to work with challenging kids”: Transforming how you approach challenging behavior using play and the theater arts.
California Association for the Education of Young Children.
Ontario, CA.
March 23-25, 2017

 

“I like to work with kids that hit, bite and do not listen”: Transforming teachers’ work with preschoolers who use challenging behavior
California Head Start Association Conference.
Sacramento, CA.
January 11-13, 2017

 

“I don’t know what to do with this child!” Transform your relationship with preschool children who hit, bite, scratch, throw temper tantrums and do not listen.
National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Conference
Los Angeles, CA.
November 2-5, 2016

 

PreK: Creating a culture of inclusion and implementing recommended practices
With Jennifer Andrade, Cinthia Espino, Emily Kemble, and Catherine Mathis
California Council for Exceptional Children.
San Diego, CA.
October 14–15, 2016

 

Improv-based play support: Teachers and preschoolers creating new classroom performances
With Jennifer Andrade, Sharon Arias, and Chamreoun Yann
Performing the World Conference.
New York, NY.
September 23-25, 2016

 

The power of play for transforming challenging behavior
The Sacramento Play Summit.
Sacramento, CA.
September 10, 2016
 

Transforming challenging behavior through play, interactive storytelling and project-based curriculum
International Early Education Theory and Methods Conference
Anhui Normal University.
Anhui, China.
July 21-23, 2016
Invited Speaker

 

"I like to work with challenging kids": Transforming how you approach challenging behavior using play and the theater arts  
California Association for the Education of Young Children (CAEYC) Conference Ontario Convention Center.
Ontario, CA.
March 31-April 2, 2016

 

Welcoming diverse families into our programs: Practical strategies for inclusion
With Amanda Ibal and Kendra Mull
California Association of Early Childhood Educators Annual Conference
Pasadena, CA.
March 31–April 2, 2016

 

Children with special needs: Social integration methods used at a Reggio-inspired center
National Coalition of Campus Children’s Center Conference
Hilton Head, SC.
March 10–12, 2016

 

Who’s welcome in our programs? Designing inclusive family intake forms and practices
Division of Early Childhood, Council for Exceptional Children Conference
Atlanta, GA.
October 7–9, 2015

 

I like to work with kids that most teachers consider difficult: Transforming your relationships and work with preschoolers who use challenging behavior
The National Association for the Education of Young Children Conference
Orlando, Fl.
November 18–21, 2015

 

Supporting children’s play using improvisational principles
With Jennifer Andrade, Sharon Arias and Chamroeun Yann
The Sacramento Play Summit
Sacramento, CA.
September 12, 2015

 

Interactive Storytelling: A Tool for Promoting Inclusion
Central Valley Lab School Inclusion Roundtable.
Fresno, CA.
March 20, 2015
Invited Speaker

 

Supporting children’s play in an inclusive Reggio-inspired Early Education Center 
With Jennifer Andrade, Sharon Arias, and Chamreoun Yann
The Association for the Study of Play Conference
San Antonio, TX.
March 4-7, 2015