Professional Development > Conferences and Workshops

Conferences and Workshops
(Click here for the 2019-2020 Professional Development Series PDF)


Engaging Practices in Early Childhood - Day 1 & 2
Teacher Tom Hobson

December 5 - 6, 2019

ISACS Classroom
Chicago, IL

Join us for one or two days to focus on best practices and the pure joy of early childhood education. Tom Hobson aka “Teacher Tom” will invite enthusiastic participation and conversation related the Loose Part Learning, as well as a very thoughtful exploration of Re-Thinking Childhood as we seek to model for and partner with parents to raise competent, confident and independent children.


  • Day One: "Loose Part Learning" with Teacher Tom Hobson, Thursday, December 5, 2019 Time: 9:30 am - 3:00 pm
  • Day Two: "Re-thinking Childhood" with Teacher Tom Hobson, Friday December 6, 2019, Time: 9:30 am - 3:00 pm

Day One: Thursday, December 5

Loose part learning has become a major trend in early childhood education over the past decade, yet many educators still struggle with applying it in a meaningful way to their own classrooms. As a pioneer in the use of loose parts, “Teacher Tom” Hobson will provide both theory and a wide variety of examples of loose parts play from his own experience, while giving participants the opportunity to expand their own understanding through hands-on learning. Participants will be encouraged to think about not only the physical aspects of loose parts play, but also how their own behavior, opinions, and especially language can encourage (or discourage) an environment in which loose parts play can thrive.

Day Two: Friday, December 6

Looked at historically, the concept of childhood is a relatively recent invention. Explore the underpinnings of our contemporary understanding of childhood in the context of the past, taking special note of the things we have lost as we’ve increasingly come to view children as less competent than have prior generations, which has led to a dramatic decrease in self-directed play, time outdoors, full-body movement, risk-taking, and a prevailing view of the child that hinders, rather than encourages, their growth as human beings. We will discuss what this means for our classrooms specifically, and contemporary society in general, while exploring our role in re-introducing more freedom and responsibility into the lives of the children we teach, including ways to reach out to and educate their parents. 

These workshops are for early childhood through kindergarten but also may translate for 1st grade.

Tom “Teacher Tom” Hobson is a preschool teacher, artist, and author. He is best known for Teacher Tom’s Blog,, where he chronicles his little preschool in the Pacific Northwest. For the past 15 years Teacher Tom has been the sole employee of the Woodland Park Cooperative School (WA), a parent-owned and operated school knit together by democratic, progressive, play-based pedagogy. He came into teaching through the backdoor, after enrolling his child in a cooperative preschool and working in his daughter’s classroom. When it was time for his daughter to move on, he stayed behind, where he plans to remain for the rest of his life. He recently authored his first book, Teacher Tom’s First Book.

Location of Academy
The workshop will take place at the ISACS classroom at 55 West Wacker Drive, Suite 702, Chicago, IL. 

Directions, Parking & Public Transportation for the ISACS Classroom
The ISACS classroom is located in the heart of Chicago, with easy access to public transportation.

Click here for directions to the ISACS classroom including driving, parking, and public transportation directions. Parking is available at several area garages. To secure discounted rates prior to your arrival in Chicago, visit If possible, we suggest taking public transportation.

Air Travel
Both Midway and O'Hare airports are easily accessible to the ISACS classroom. Fly into Midway (on Southwest Airlines) or into O'Hare and take the "L" (Chicago's public transportation) and arrive at the ISACS classroom in less than an hour.  

‚ÄčGO Airport Express (Share-a-Ride) Shuttle Service
ISACS has negotiated a special rate with GO Airport Express for ISACS members – 15% off the standard rates. Reservations MUST be made in advance and online to receive the discounted rate. The standard rate per person to/from O’Hare is approximately $28 one-way; $49 round-trip. The standard rate per person to/from Midway is approximately $24 one-way; $40 round-trip. To receive the 15% discount off the standard rates, please click here for the Go Airport Express website to make a reservation in advance. A credit card is required and charged at the time of reservation. Airport walk-ups are not eligible for the discounted rate. Parties of two more reserving at the same time receive a discount. Please visit their website for more information.  

Hotel Accommodations
ISACS has secured a discounted room rate of $169/night plus tax for an elite king at the Hotel Julian, 168 North Michigan Avenue, which is just three blocks from the ISACS classroom. Named for St. Julian - the patron saint of hospitality and travelers, the four-diamond hotel opened its doors in October 2018 with a chic, urban energy that reflects its patron’s famed warmth and hospitality. To make a reservation, please contact the Hotel Julian at (312) 346-1200 and identify yourself as an Independent Schools Association of Central States (ISACS) member and provide the Group Code:1912ISACSW. Discounted rooms are available until November 4, 2019. Credit cards are required to book all room reservations. For online reservations, please click here to reserve your room. For directions to the Hotel Julian, which includes walking directions to the ISACS classroom, click here

If you have any issues booking a room (room block is full, past the cutoff date, etc.) or are in need of a room with two beds, then please contact Daniel Grajdura, Hotel Julian's director of sales and marketing, for assistance at (312) 392-2435 or

ISACS has also negotiated low seasonal rates at other downtown Chicago hotels within walking distance to the ISACS classroom. These rates are available to ISACS members all year long for professional and personal travel. Click here for additional details and select the option that best meets your travel needs. If you have any issues securing a room at the Hotel Julian or at any of the other hotels listed, please contact the ISACS office at (312) 750-1190.

Registration Fee
During the registration process, please select the day(s) you plan to attend.

Two-day Fee

  • $350 member fee
  • $425 non-member fee
  • Two-day workshop includes light breakfast, lunch, and daily refreshments 
  • Register early as we anticipate this workshop will reach capacity
  • Please review the Registration Confirmation information below

One-day Fee

  • $190 member fee
  • $250 non-member fee
  • One-day workshop includes light breakfast, lunch, and daily refreshments
  • Register early as we anticipate this workshop will reach capacity
  • Please review the Registration Confirmation information below

Registration Confirmation Communications from ISACS
Once registration for the workshop has been completed the following communications will be sent from ISACS:

  • Once registration is complete, an email will automatically be sent to the contact person on the registration confirming that registration has been completed.
  • Approximately three weeks prior to the workshop, ISACS will send a confirmation email to the registrant with workshop details.
  • Approximately one week prior to the workshop, ISACS will send a final confirmation email to the registrant with workshop details.

If you do not receive these emails prior to arriving at a workshop, please call the ISACS office at (312) 750-1190. It is possible your email address was entered incorrect OR your registration was not completed.

Cancellation Policy
Cancellations for workshops held at the ISACS classroom must be received in writing to ISACS by emailing 10 business days prior to the event to receive a refund. ISACS will determine the refund amount, if any, on a per workshop basis and may be unable to determine the refund amount until the workshop’s conclusion. At any time, registration may be transferred to another member from the same school. If a workshop has a waitlist and ISACS can identify a replacement, a full refund will be provided. ISACS reserves the right to cancel the workshop for insufficient enrollment. In this case, participants will be notified and given a full refund. 

Member Cost: $350     Non-member Cost: $425


55 West Wacker, Suite 701 · Chicago, IL 60601 · Telephone (312) 750-1190 · Fax (312) 750-1193
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