Over the last seven weeks I have had the honor of being able to be in contact with peers who work in different parts of the world. This has been a wonderful opportunity to be able to learn and share issues that are happening around the globe in the early childhood field as a result, I have come to the realization that when we connect with others we gain insights to understanding that what is happening in my own community is also happening around the globe. Three of the consequences that came from these correspondences are; knowledge, realization, and collaboration.
Knowledge: I have always believed that knowledge is the most important weapon that we have. When we take opportunities to build on knowledge we gain things like perspective. We can understand what other people may be going thru and realize that we are not alone. Understanding what is happing in another part of the world or what changes are being made in another country can help guide changes that need to happen here at home. I often believe that I myself have become blindsided, thinking that some of the issues that we face in this country in the early childhood field are unique, when in fact they are very universal.
Realization: I think that this goes hand and hand with knowledge. Not only in the last few weeks did I discover that issues are global, I have also been able to understand that I am not alone in wanting the best for children, and working towards a common goal for equity and quality in early childhood education. Understanding that other share my goals and hopes makes me feel like I am not so alone. I also realized that we all need to have conversations about what is going on in this field, and how we can work as a community to make things better. I have had many conversations over the last seven weeks and feel that I have grown in my ability to have articulate conversations about the issues we face in this field. I have grown professionally and personally.
Collaboration: Over the last seven weeks I have realized how important it is for all of us to work together. Not only here in America, but other parts of the world, we face many of the same issues. What I have come to realize is that by working together we can work for changes to be made. We should be encouraged to work together, to have a voice together, so that we can be heard.
If I could think of one goal for this field in relationship to international awareness it would be that we could look at ways in which other countries are trying to change their early childhood programs and use this information for research about changes that we have to make. Having collaboration and finding out what has been successful can help us in America build a better and stronger early childhood field. I also think that other countries could learn from us as well. I do hope that I am able to maintain contact with the wonderful women I have been able to talk with over the last few weeks. They have shown me that I am not alone in the struggles I face or the goals that I have.
Thanks everyone for a wonderful 8 weeks. I have enjoyed sharing with you all and reading your posts. Look forward to our next class!
This week in class we read and spoke about what defines a quality teacher as well as issues that surround teachers in the field of early childhood education. I was able to connect with two women who work internationally in the field of education, Cindy and Barbara.
Cindy, is a teacher who lives in Australia. She mentioned that recently the Government has promoted training and education in the Early Childhood field, by providing monetary incentives. She mentions that while this did result in an increase the number of trained professionals, it did not help with promoting skilled teachers. Not unlike here in America, she is required to have a number of hours of continuing education a year. Because she lives in a rural area she does most of her continuing education while working on her Bachelor’s degree in teaching. Many times to attend formal trainings or workshops she would have to travel about 6 hours.
Her goals are to complete her degree next year, and plans on staying in the field for another 5 to 10 years.
Barbara, who lives in China, explained that 8 years ago the school that she works at, most of the teachers did not have any form of formal training. Today, the school is expanding, and they are having issues finding training opportunities for teachers. Like Cindy, most trainings are not held in China, and would require travel costs which can be expensive.
Barbara’s goals are to continue to promote best practices for early intervention and to continue to support inclusive education in China.
Once again I am not surprised that some of the issues that surround teachers are the same no matter where you live. In Wisconsin there are programs like REWARD that provides monetary incentives for education level as well as years of service. In Wisconsin we have to have 25 hours of continuing education a year. And unless your work pays for continuing education, it can be a huge expense to travel and attending conferences and trainings.
But what I have learned is even thought we face these challenges, we all want to continue to work in this field, help children and families, and work towards equity and quality for all children.
This week I decided to explore the parent resources that were available on the web site. As a professional I feel that a large part of my job is to help parents find resources that can help them be better parents. Many times I will have new parents who are looking for some direction. I also feel that one of my main responsibilities as an early childhood educator is to help my children build strong social and emotional skills so that they are able to have success when they start school.
Under the “explore our topics tab”, I found a whole section on parenting. Now, since I have been exploring this site, I do not think that this is the only section that you can find helpful information to share with families. However, I did find some interesting article that I feel I could share with my families that would help them build social and emotional skills in their children. These are article that we could use as a team to work together.
The first article was “Coping with Defiance in the Early Years”. I felt that this tool was very direct and had some great suggestions for families. The article reminds us that in the toddler years it is their job to test us, and to understand their limits. It also explains how incredibly strong their emotional responses are, but this tool gives us many great ideas on how we can support their needs and help them understand limits and gain self-control.
The second article that I found was, “First Feelings; The foundation of Healthy Development, Starting at Birth. I feel that this is such a wonderful article because we have to encourage parents in our society to talk about feelings and help their children build emotional literacy. This article gives many suggestions how parents can help their children by labeling their emotions, acknowledging their feelings, and teaching tools for coping. This is a wonderful article that I feel we can share with parents to help bridge a connection with home and school.
When thinking about how these article pertain to what we have learned this week I feel that individually we can make a difference in the programs that we offer families. By sharing articles like the ones I mentioned earlier, we can make a difference. We need to empower families to help them be active in their children’s life as well.
ZerotoThree web site:
This week I was able to connect with two people from other countries.
Barbara P. lives in China. She mentioned that currently there is a huge push for excellence in the ECE field. In the past China viewed ECE as a means to get children ready for school. Many changes are being made in China, one example is that teachers are now learning the importance of play and exploration. In regards to equality, the main issue in china is poverty and many families cannot afford quality programs for their children. Like America, social economics plays a role in if children have access to ECE programs.
Cindy M. lives in Guyra, New South Wales. In means of equality, the Government would like each child to be able to have access to 15 hours of early childhood learning before they enter formal education. This plan has yet to be implemented. This would help ensure that all children have similar experiences before they enter school. 15 hours does not seem like much. For teachers the main issue facing them in equality is wages. She mentioned that teachers in the public school setting who require a 4 year degree get paid more than teachers who also have a 4 year degree in ECE. Unfortunately, many teachers will leave the ECE. According to statistics she says that within the next 5 years 1 out of 5 educators will leave the ECE field. In regards to excellence, many of the standards that have been set for Australia, are like those here in America. They have certain criteria for educators to meet according to the roles that they play in classrooms. Child care programs also have to meet the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority. In this assessment they are rated every 2-3 years, and rated in 7 areas of quality. To me it sounds lot like accreditation with NAEYC. Programs that need improvements can qualify for assistance. Benefits for families in assistance for costs are also rated on how high the program rates.
Once again I am not surprised that many of the same issues we face here in America, are those that other countries face as well. Like China we have become a nation that places too much focus on academics, I hope to see some changes in our own country as well. Like Australia, fair wages are an issue for many ECE here in America. If I have learned one thing this week it would be that the fight for equality and quality is a worldwide fight.