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|Appendix Compendium of Early Childhood Materials and Resources||407||(36)|
Why does anyone decide to make the care and education of young children into his or her life's work? When we ask undergraduate students this question, their answers vary. Some will simply say, "I love kids." Others will be more specific and say things like the following.
"I idolized my second grade teacher, Ms. Cardill. When I was in second grade, I found out that I had a learning disability. Ms. Cardill helped me learn how to cope and inspired me to become a teacher in the process."
"My mother and sisters are teachers, so is one of my uncles. I grew up with teaching and come from a teaching family. I guess you could say that I am carrying on the family tradition."
"Because I am the oldest and my family lives nearby, my job when I was growing up was to babysit for my little brother, nieces, and nephews. There were always kids around the house and I found that I really enjoyed their company."
By way of introduction, here is what we have to say about what precipitated our decisions to pursue a career in early childhood.
Mary: "I've always wanted to be a teacher just like Ms. Klingensmith, my kindergarten teacher. Throughout early childhood, my favorite play theme was playing school and, when I did, I was always Miss K When I was in high school, my little sister was in first grade. After six months with a mean teacher who was a former Marine sergeant, my sister was crying and throwing up every morning before school started. At age seven, she developed a stomach ulcer. Her teacher was fired at the end of that year, but when I saw the damage that one bad teacher could do, I made the commitment to go into teaching and become a good teacher."
Joan: "As the oldest of four siblings, I spent much of my childhood and adolescence with young children. When I was a teenager, my best friend and I planned and organized children's birthday parties. In the summers, I worked at a camp and was a swimming instructor for young children who were learning to swim for the first time. These experiences helped me to see many different ways to teach things that children really wanted to learn. These experiences also differed dramatically from the kind of in-school learning I remembered from my early childhood days where I was expected to sit quietly, memorize information, and tolerate boredom. My work at the camp and in my neighborhood allowed me to see children's delight in learning and led me to become an early childhood teacher."
Whether you are a beginner or a veteran in the field of early childhood, the underlying message is clear: We decide to teach young children because we feel that early childhood is one of the most delightful periods in life, because we are intrigued and charmed by the young child's newcomer's perspective on the world, and because we feel well suited to fulfill the early childhood educator's multiple roles. In short, we seek careers in early childhood education because we believe that we can exert a powerful and positive influence on the lives of the very young.
How does a college student move from dreams of teaching well to becoming an effective professional educator? One thing is certain. In that journey from imagining ourselves as effective teachers and actually becoming outstanding teachers, good intentions are not enough. It is almost inconceivable that anyone would enter into teaching with the thought, "I plan to be a terrible teacher and make children's lives miserable," yet there are many examples of teachers who have drifted away from their original goals. Generally speaking, they are the teachers who have neglected their own learning, who became jaded by the futile search for one method that works equally well with all children, who waited to be told what to do, or who failed to put children at the center of their practice. In his bookTo Become a Teacher: Making a Difference in Children's Lives,William Ayers (1995) raises and answers a simple yet profound question:
What makes a good teacher? When I ask college students this question, they typically come up with a wide and interesting assortment of qualities: compassion, love of children, sense of humor, kindness, and intelligence. My own list includes passion, commitment, curiosity, a willingness to be vulnerable, and authenticity. When I ask kindergartners the same question, they too have ready answers: a good teacher is fair, funny, smart, nice .... Teaching at its best requires knowledge of students, knowledge of hopes, dreams, aspirations, skills, challenges, interests, preferences, intelligence, and values they bring with them to the classroom. Teaching at its best is first an act of inquiry, investigation, and research into the lives of children. (Ayers, 1995, pp. 5-6)
The second edition ofExploring Your Role: A Practitioner's Introduction to Early Childhood Educationis designed to inaugurate your investigation into the lives of children, your research in the field of early childhood education, and your inquiry into the multiple roles that you will need to play as someone who cares deeply about the care and education of young children, ages birth through 8.
Traditionally, introductory textbooks in early childhood education have been organized in much the same way—a history of the field and a chapter on theory followed by one chapter on each major subject area—language, mathematics, science, the arts, and so forth.Exploring Your Roletakes a more integrated and innovative approach. This text is organized around the essential roles and responsibilities that effective early childhood educators must fulfill. Another fundamental difference betweenExploring Your Role: A Practitioner's Introduction to Early Childhood Educationand traditional textbooks is that it is interactive. This means that readers are encouraged to respond to what they are reading while they are reading it. We rely upon case material and verbatim comments from students to make the content come alive. As you look through the book, you will notice sections called "Pause and Reflect About. . . " embedded within the chapters. This material will encourage you to relate what you have read to your own experiences and guide you to reflect more deeply upon the topics. For your convenience, we have provided spaces where you can respond to the chapter material and note your ideas. Your instructor will determine the best way to use these responses within the context of your class, course, or program.
InGuidelines for Preparation of Early Childhood Professionals,the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) (1996) characterizes early childhood education as "a diverse field encompassing a broad age-range of the life-span, birth through age eight, including children with special development and learning needs. Early childhood education occurs in diverse settings, including public and private schools, centers, and home-based programs, and encompasses many roles in addition to the traditional role of 'teacher"' (p. 1). As a contemporary early childhood educator, you will need to fulfill at least 12 important roles that correspond to the contents ofExploring Your Role.These roles that NAEYC (2002) identifies and that we have adapted here include:
From this list alone, it is clear that working effectively with young children is a challenging and demanding avocation. Teaching young children is qualitatively different from the way it was 20, 10, or even 5 years ago. Our field has been profoundly affected by changes in American families, advances in cognitive psychology, perspectives on the preparation of teachers, political influences on early childhood education, and a new era of sensitivity to cultural diversity and young children with special needs (Isenberg & Jalongo, 2003). As you enter early childhood education, you will be engaged in the rigorous work of defining yourself professionally and flexibly adapting to a wide array of early childhood settings.
The second edition ofExploring Your Role: A Practitioner's Introduction to Early Childhood Educationis written for newcomers to the field of early childhood education. Typically, these students are enrolled in specialized programs at 2- or 4-year colleges or universities that prepare them to work with children ages birth through 8. This comprehensive introduction to the field is most appropriate as the primary textbook for the initial course. It will meet the needs of instructors who teach in baccalaureate (4- or 5-year programs) as well as the needs of instructors who teach in 2-year associate degree programs at community colleges.
This book is intended to be a departure in two senses of that word. First, it is a departure from the "standard formula" for an introductory textbook in early childhood. Second, it is a point of departure for novices who are beginning their exploration of the early childhood field and their roles within it. Notable features of the book are described below.
In revising the second edition, we have included several new features that those who were familiar with the first edition will immediately notice.
Every chapter begins with a list of outcomes for the student. This shift away from behavioral objectives to outcomes statements is consistent with the very latest accreditation standards for teacher education programs in the United States. Increasingly, teacher educators are being asked to provide more holistic and performance-based evidence that their early childhood programs make significant contributions to the students' growth as professionals.
Next, our readers will "Meet the Teachers" through case material that describes one infant/toddler caregiver, one preschool teacher, and one kindergarten or primary grade teacher. In this way, we provide a balance of all three age groups every early childhood teacher needs to know—infants/toddlers (0-2), preschoolers (3-5), and children in the primary grades (6r8). Unlike some introductory textbooks that focus almost exclusively on 3- to 5-year-olds, our emphasis is on the education and care of young children ages birth through 8.
As the Table of Contents details, the body of each chapter follows a clear organizational pattern. Every chapter defines the professional role, provides a rationale for its importance, and addresses the classroom practices that support that role. The body of the chapter then moves to the most influential paradigms that have resulted from theory and research. (For example, Montessori is discussed in the chapter on early childhood programs, Vygotsky is discussed in the chapter on learning, and Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences is included in the chapter on integrating the curriculum.) Finally, each chapter leads you to practical applications of what you have learned.
Each chapter will include two examples of the text feature we call "Ask the Expert." These profiles of leaders in the field of early childhood education are directly related to each chapter's content. In the chapter on curriculum, for example, we profile Sue Bredekamp and her thoughts on developmentally appropriate practice. Given the complexity of early childhood education today, incorporating this collaborative approach within the text was one of the best ways we could imagine to ensure that all key topics were addressed in sufficient depth by leading experts. The conversations with prominent early childhood teacher educators will familiarize you with contemporary leaders in the field as you see their photographs and read what they have to say. In this way,Exploring Your Roleprovides the most up-to-date and authoritative information available on special topics of critical importance to early childhood practitioners. Information about the career paths and experiential backgrounds of each leader in "Ask the Expert" is included in the Instructor's Resource Manual.
Another distinctive characteristic of the textbook is the emphasis on the application of content. A text feature that makes our book exceptionally timely is what we call "One Child, Three Perspectives." This component of the chapter highlights a child we have known and presents several different points of view on how best to meet that child's needs. Included among the perspectives are the views of parents, classroom teachers, social workers, school administrators, child guidance experts, healthcare professionals, and others who are committed to helping the child. This approach is in keeping with the new NAEYC Standards that call for the preparation of early childhood professionals who have developed the skills of collaboration necessary to work with teams consisting of parents, families, colleagues, and professionals from many different fields who are committed to the education and care—the educare—of young children.
One of the complaints of trained professionals in virtually every field is that nobody ever told them how challenging it would be to work in the "real world" of the profession for which they were prepared. InExploring Your Rolewe attempt to rectify that error. Rather than restricting our accounts of young children to charming anecdotes, we present a wide array of more realistic situations that early childhood educators are likely to encounter. For instance, the case of a drug-exposed child and a case describing a newly immigrated child with limited English proficiency are included. "One Child, Three Perspectives" develops your ability to consider different points of view such as a parent's, psychologists, or administrator's perspectives on how to support a child's growth and learning and will equip you to work more skillfully with other professionals. This text feature also emphasizes the theory/research/practice connection. Each example will show how theory and research inform daily practice and provide a useful framework for problem solving.
Families figure prominently in any successful early childhood program. Therefore, we have not only devoted an entire chapter to this topic, but also include a recommended strategy for working more successfully with families in every chapter. "Featuring Families" illustrates specific ways that skillful practitioners we know convey information on a variety of topics to the significant adults in each child's life. These text features were collaboratively designed with Ruth K. Steinbrunner.
The 11 chapters conclude with a component that offers an additional opportunity to work with the information that you are learning in class. We call it an "In-Class Workshop." These activities can be used with the total group or small groups to give you a chance to apply the basic principles you have acquired from reading the chapter. In the professional development chapter, for example, we lead you in beginning to develop a teaching portfolio. All of these "In-Class Workshop" activities have been extensively field-tested with students in our classes over the years and have been well received in presentations at professional conferences.
The exceptionally comprehensive Instructor's Resource Manual is another way in which our textbook supports instructors and distinguishes itself from other texts on the market. We include samples of classroom dialogue between teachers and children for students to analyze. We also include sample syllabi, an introductory activity for each chapter, objective test and essay test items, suggested in-class projects, and classroom observation forms that can be used during field experiences in early childhood settings or with a videotaped lesson supplied by the instructor. The first edition's Instructor's Resource Manual was developed by Ruth K. Steinbrunner, Ph.D., while she was a doctoral student at George Mason University, and Natalie K. Conrad, M.A., a teacher with The PennCambria School District and a doctoral candidate. It is available on computer diskette as well as in the traditional printed format so that instructors can modify and adapt these resources as they see fit. We also provide a Student Study Guide for students, also developed by Ruth Steinbrunner and Karen C. Curtis, and an ABC News / Prentice Hall video containing segments on a variety of family childhood education topics. Natalie K. Conrad did most of the work on the Companion Website and Marjorie L. Stanek converted the "plain vanilla" transparencies into PowerPoint slide shows.
In writing this, the second edition ofExploring Your Role: A Practitioner's Introduction to Early Childhood Education,we drew upon our many years of teaching toddlers, preschoolers, and children in the primary grades; supervising student teachers; as well as our work with practitioners in child care, nursery school, Head Start, and public school so that we could offer a useful, contemporary, and comprehensive perspective on the field.
Welcome, then, to an exploration of your role as an early childhood educator. You are joining the ranks of a profession with a long and distinguished history of dedication to the care and education of children. You are becoming a member of a field characterized by compassion, commitment, enthusiasm, and joy in the growth, development, and learning of young children.