Exploring Your Role: A Practitioner's Introduction to Early Childhood Education, Second Edition

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9780131101517: Exploring Your Role: A Practitioner's Introduction to Early Childhood Education, Second Edition

This book frames content in a way that defines the “what, why, and how” of becoming an early childhood educator. It prepares readers for the variety of roles (advocate, facilitator, planner, mediator, etc.) they must assume in working with children, parents, colleagues, principals, administrators, and the community at large. Its innovative coverage focuses on helping readers fulfill these roles in a caring, competent, knowledgeable manner, through case studies, verbatim comments, and numerous opportunities for reflection. Organized around the twelve essential roles and responsibilities of effective early childhood educators as delineated by the NAEYC Guidelines for Preparation of Early Childhood Professionals (2000), coverage includes demographic changes in families, advances in psychology, political influences, cultural diversity, and issues of inclusion. For future teachers of children from birth to age 8.

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From the Back Cover:

This is the only introduction to early childhood text that is based on the standards of professional preparation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Written by two award-winning teachers, the book clearly focuses the student on the process of becoming a knowledgeable, caring, competent, and reflective practitioner.

  • Each chapter contains full case studies designed to stimulate discussion about the diverse social realities of the day in "One Child, Three Perspectives."
  • Each chapter introduces students to leaders in the field and current thinking with a series of interviews with leading experts profiled in "Ask the Experts."
  • All chapters close with an "In-Class Workshop" that is based on actual workshops conducted at conferences and training sessions.
  • A new feature, "Exploring Our Diversity," highlights chapter content that relates to cultural diversity, children with special needs, and antibias curriculum.
  • The text features a text-specific Companion Website, updated with new portfolio-building exercises for each chapter in addition to chapter resources and an interactive study guide.

Instructor Resources include:
• Printed Instructor's Manual, Test Bank, and Companion Website. The Test Bank is available in both printed and computerized versions.
• A video library of current topics and issues that are integrated within the text.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

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 book To 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 of Exploring Your Role: A Practitioner's Introduction to Early Childhood Education is 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.

GENERAL FOCUS AND PURPOSE

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 Role takes 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 between Exploring Your Role: A Practitioner's Introduction to Early Childhood Education and 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.

In Guidelines 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 of Exploring Your Role. These roles that NAEYC (2002) identifies and that we have adapted here include:

  1. The reflective practitioner who carefully considers educational issues and is capable of ethical decision making (Chapter 1);
  2. The child advocate who can engage in informed advocacy for children and the profession by understanding the rich traditions as well as contemporary issues that define early childhood education (Chapter 2);
  3. The child development specialist who knows and understands young children's characteristics and needs and uses this professional knowledge to address the needs of all children (Chapter 3);
  4. The facilitator of learning who understands the multiple influences on young children's development and learning (Chapter 4);
  5. The environment designer/arranger who uses knowledge of child development to create a safe, healthy, supportive, respectful, and challenging physical environment for learning (Chapter 5);
  6. The curriculum developer who can design, implement, and assess learning across the content areas and provide meaningful programs that respect diversity and promote positive outcomes (Chapter 6);
  7. The educational planner who understands different types and levels of collaborative planning/organization and can use a wide array of effective approaches, strategies, and tools that respond to children's needs and interests and yield positive learning outcomes (Chapter 7);
  8. The evaluator who works in partnership with families and other professionals to document children's learning using appropriate assessment strategies (Chapter 8);
  9. The mediator and role model who builds a sense of community in early childhood settings by guiding children's behavior and teaching them the skills of conflict resolution so necessary in our increasingly violent society (Chapter 9);
  10. The family resource person who builds trust and respect between, among, and with families and the larger community (Chapter 10);
  11. The emerging professional who seeks and self-monitors professional growth through research-based practice and professional collaboration (Chapter 11); and
  12. The manager of resources who knows how to locate and use physical and human resource materials to support young children's learning and interact supportively with their families (see the Compendium of Early Childhood Materials and Resources at the end of the book).

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...

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