23 Mar

Beyond The Pages ECE Book Study: Chapter 4 (Week 8)

By Susan Zoll

Susan Zoll

Welcome to the final week of study and conversation on Professionalizing Early Childhood Education as a Field of Practice: A Guide to the Next Era by Stacie G. Goffin. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to learn from each of you over the past eight weeks and I look forward to future opportunities Dawn will create, providing intentional space for our beloved early childhood community.

From your responses it’s clear you own your professional responsibilities towards children, their families, and your colleagues. So many of you serve in multiple roles: educators, mentors, coaches, administrators, instructors in higher education – in addition to nurturing your own families!

Professionalism in early childhood education exists and you’ve given voice to current issues and policies that impact your work: compensation, credentials, organizational climate, standards, a “disparity crisis” in learning opportunities for children…and the list goes on.

Take a few moments and look through the comments and the wealth of shared information provided by members of this virtual community. Which topic resonates for you, feels personal, stirs up something you can stand behind? If after this book study your goal is to be an active policy agent, rather than a passive policy target (Heineke 2015) you’ll need just one topic to begin your intentional conversation in a way that feels authentic and comfortable to you.

Last week, Betsy Carlin highlighted key aspects of an intentional dialogue focusing on the role of the “facilitator.” Chapter 4 also reminds us, we must consider the environment where our conversations will take place. As early childhood educators, this is imagery we understand. Just as we ready our classroom environments to meet the needs of children each day, we must think about the welcoming and respectful settings we create to begin our early childhood dialogues.

If your objective is to invite others into your classroom or school to host an intentional conversation regarding early childhood education, does your environment make visible your belief about the importance of young children? Stacy suggests, “pictures of children propped on easels or taped to a wall remind us that these conversations are about something larger than our individual roles or ambitions” (p. 66).  Or perhaps you prefer more personal settings and plan to begin an intentional conversation when you’re visiting a family in their home. Ultimately, your goal is to be inclusive; and whether hosting a group or only one other individual, we must come together to exchange in a spirit of mutual learning and exploration.

Earlier this month, NAEYC created such an inclusive environment for early childhood educators. The 2016 Public Policy Forum in Washington, DC provided participants with the opportunity to expand their understanding of federal policy and it’s impact locally. Truthfully, this was a new area for me and I felt a bit out of my comfort zone. But NAEYC had created a safe environment for it’s AEYC affiliates and we had the opportunity to meet our local delegates (R.I. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse).

Challenging, but productive conversations were had and I believe our field moved a little bit forward on the professional continuum – I know I did! Professionalism at the individual-level always falls along a continuum, with no visible endpoint. So, maybe it stands to reason that professionalism for the early childhood field is also about continuous improvement, always moving forward together.

So how will you help to move the field forward? Remember, to begin you need just one topic that you’re passionate about. For this week’s response, please share your topic and your plans for initiating the dialogue. Will you invite a small group or will you speak to a co-worker or a family member? And how will you prepare the setting for this conversation? How will you ensure a trusting and welcoming environment?

I’ll continue to monitor your responses and look forward to our collective conversation.

P.S.  If you’d like to research additional early childhood policy topics, NAEYC provides relevant policy and action resources you can review.

Reference:
Heineke, A.J., Ryan, A.M., Tocci, C. (2015). Teaching, learning, and leading: Preparing teachers as educational policy actors. Journal of Teacher Education, v 66(4), 382-394.

Susan Zoll, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Early Childhood Education
Director, Institute for Early Childhood Teaching and Learning
Rhode Island College
Email: szoll@ric.edu
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*New here? You can find all the book study details HERE. Happy reading!

Book Study Timeline!
(click on chapter or name below to access that content)

This book study is sponsored by Redleaf Press

BeyondthePages.Goffin.2015[1]

 


21 Mar

Mondays with M.E.: Divorce

MomEnough_logo_notag-300x60HELPING CHILDREN THRIVE DURING AND AFTER DIVORCE: A CONVERSATION WITH DR. JORDAN HART ABOUT CHILDREN AND DIVORCE

Hart,Jordan divorceWhen parents divorce, children typically experience a wide range of feelings, including loss, sadness, fear, anger and anxiety. These feelings come out in different ways, depending on age, personality and circumstances. But there are many things parents and other caring adults can do to help children cope and even thrive beyond this challenging time. Child psychologist Dr. Jordan Hart joins Marti & Erin for a rich discussion of children and divorce, a topic that affects so many children and families. >>TUNE IN HERE<<

What have you experienced or observed about children and divorce in your family or circle of friends? What were some of the most important points in this Mom Enough discussion and how do those match your own experience or observations of children and divorce?

To learn more about the Bridging Parental Conflict® class, click here.
To learn more about the Managing in the Middle class for children, click here.

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This post was created by Mom Enough and used with permission.

 


15 Mar

Beyond The Pages ECE Book Study: Chapter 4 (Week 7)

betsy carlin photo

by Betsy Carlin

Over the course of the last month and a half, while discussing the book Professionalizing Early Childhood as a Field of Practice: A Guide to the Next Era, we as a diverse group of people who are committed to the field of early childhood, have considered…

  • What brings us as individuals to the conversation about organizing ECE into a professional field of practice?
  • What are our individual beliefs and assumptions about ECE currently?

And we have…

  • Entered into a process of collective inquiry, expanding what we each thought to be true, so together we can begin to imagine the next era of ECE.

Now the time has come to put all this deep thinking and discovery to good use, to step up as leaders and advocates, and realize our role in the work of launching conversations with intent where we work and live.

In chapter 4 of the book, Stacie Goffin identifies roles that need to be filled in order to have a successful conversation with intent: the convener, the facilitator, and the designer of the conversation environment. The roles can be filled by an individual or a group of people who have read the book (like us). Each role has great value. For this week’s conversation, I would like us to focus on the role of facilitator.

Let’s start with a common understanding of the term. To facilitate means A) to make easy or less difficult and B) to help forward a process or action. Based on this definition and through experience, I have come to believe a facilitator’s role is to break down barriers and be a catalyst for deep thinking so collectively a group can make forward progress. Facilitators provide clear focus on the purpose of a process while being flexible in the route taken. Facilitators create a space where individuals feel trusted, respected and safe to share their perspective. Facilitators need to listen, question for understanding and weave together varying, even opposing ideas, to create shared understanding, all while ensuring the strongest possible outcome.

For each of us, our ability to take the role of facilitator began when we entered this book study and committed to participating in a conversation with intent. It continued as we committed to self-reflection and shared in conversations to gain new insight on the current challenges that face the field of ECE and to imagine the possibilities for co-creating something better. This book study has not only provided each of us with the background necessary to facilitate a conversation (or two) with intent; it has challenged us to do so.

For some of us, taking the challenge may be exciting or simply an extension of what we already do, for others it may be daunting and taking us out of our comfort zone. This week, for our discussion, I would like each of us to set and share goals for facilitating a conversation with intent within the next 6 months.  Along with the goals, I would like to invite you to share at least one insight, challenge, or question you have about the role of facilitator. Through the week we can collectively respond with our experience, wisdom, and expertise to prepare ourselves to be the facilitators of the next wave of conversations with intent.

Betsy Carlin

*New here? You can find all the book study details HERE. Happy reading!

Book Study Timeline!
(click on chapter or name below to access that content)

This book study is sponsored by Redleaf Press

BeyondthePages.Goffin.2015[1]


8 Mar

Beyond The Pages ECE Book Study: Chapter 3 (Week 6)

THINKING TOGETHER

By Tracy McElhattan 

Tracy MThe room is tense. You can feel the air being sucked out of the room. No one is listening, the conversation is going nowhere and everyone is staring at a phone or watch, wishing that time would stop standing still. We’ve all been in a situation like that and it doesn’t feel good, nor is it usually very productive. In order to create something new in ECE, we don’t have time to have unproductive conversations. Time is of the essence.  Think we have plenty of time? I believe the time is now because while I’m energized that ECE is in the news frequently (just in the past week, I’ve read this, this, this, and this, plus others), I’m disheartened because commentary and loud opinions often come from sources outside our field- instead of within. It’s time for us to initiate our own conversations, to “foster conceptualization of ECE as a whole, and prompt collective inquiry and creativity” (p. 33). Effective conversations will take place when we implement the foundational practices described in this chapter:

  1. Listening
  2. Respecting
  3. Suspending

Admittedly, these are tough things to do when we’re talking about our passion and life’s work. In Jill’s blog post, she told us of negative reactions to tough questions about professionalizing ECE from a conference session she attended just recently. We will do well to remember, as Stacie said, to separate our role from who we are as persons (pg. 37). Using the principles and “keep in minds” Stacie shared with us in Chapter 3, we won’t walk away from difficult conversations and we will learn to facilitate conversations together.

Why Do We Need to Think Together?

The past several weeks we’ve been able to think deeper on an individual level, and a bit on a collective level, given the nature of doing a book study. Hopefully you’ve thought through your own presumptions, and you’ve seen what your online colleagues are thinking about on an individual level. Now we’re ready to apply our knowledge and skills to answering questions that directly address structuring ECE as a profession. Let’s remember to “keep the main thing the main thing”:

Our purpose is to deepen understanding of ECE as a field of practice and explore options for its evolution to a professional field of practice; professionalizing ECE so that systemic capacity exists to consistently promote children’s optimum learning and development (p. 40).

This is the purpose of having “conversations with intent.” These conversations will push us to move beyond the ECE silos, which impede the flow of collaboration and innovation. We need to focus on “creating a compelling future for ECE as a field of practice and designing a system that brings the field’s desired behaviors to fruition” (p. 32).

What Do We Need to Think About?

A few years ago, I worked closely with Stacie as she facilitated conversations with intent with a specific group whose goal was a greater unification of their state’s early childhood programs. I learned a lot from helping her prepare for meetings, watching her work, and debriefing afterwards. Stacie has created this book to help ECE practitioners and constituents like us function in a similar way as if we were sitting in a room together. Following are two questions that I think we can explore online together this week that will steer our inquiry and creativity toward professionalizing ECE. Leave your comments and I will check in throughout the week. Remember that this is the beginning and we cannot know all the answers at the beginning. This is a journey we’ve chosen together.

  1. What should be ECE’s primary purpose as a professional field of practice?
  2. What do we think is the best starting point for structuring ECE as a professional field of practice?

Tracy E. McElhattan, Ph.D.

*New here? You can find all the book study details HERE. Happy reading!

Book Study Timeline!
(click on chapter or name below to access that content)

This book study is sponsored by Redleaf Press

 


7 Mar

Mondays with M.E.: EFFECTIVE MENTORS

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BENEFITS OF MENTORING AND QUALITIES OF EFFECTIVE MENTORS FOR CHILDREN AND YOUTH

Weiler,Lindsey_hsOne caring, supportive adult can make all the difference in the life of a young person who is struggling or living in high-risk circumstances. But all children can benefit from an adult who invests time to teach them new skills or help them discover new possibilities. (Chances are you know this from your own life!) This week’s Mom Enough guest is Dr. Lindsey Weiler, a University of Minnesota professor and therapist who studies why and how mentoring matters, as well as the qualities of the most effective mentors. Whether you are looking for a mentor or are considering becoming one, this discussion is for you. >>TUNE IN HERE<<

What experience have you had with mentoring, formal or informal, as a mentor or the one being mentored? How did your experience match what this week’s Mom Enough guest identified as important qualities for an effective mentor?

For the Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota, click here.
To locate a mentor in Minnesota, click here.
For the National Mentoring Partnership, click here.
To locate a mentor in your state, click here.
For the National Mentoring Resource Center, click here.

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This post was created by Mom Enough and used with permission.


4 Mar

Bam!Radio: ECE Advocacy 101

You’re Either at the Table or on the Menu

Rae Pica with Suzanne Gellens, Aaron Carrara, Kristen Kerr, Sandra Giarde
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There are so many challenges that hinder ECE professionals from successfully advocating for continued support, that many are inclined to simply not participate. However, as one of our guests says, “you’re either at the table or on the menu.” Fortunately, there are new ways to advocate and simple steps that any ECE professional can take to ensure support for the field.
>>TUNE IN HERE<<

Follow: @bamradionetwork @raepica1 @DrLangworthy 
@vealheidi @RedleafPress

#edchat #edreform #ece #earlyed #AskingWhatIf

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This post was created by Bam! Radio and used with permission


1 Mar

Beyond The Pages ECE Book Study: Chapter 3 (Week 5)

By Robert Gundling

Robert GI am honored to be one of the people involved in the book study for, “Professionalizing Early Childhood Education As a Field of Practice: A Guide to the Next Era by Stacie G. Goffin. I want to thank Dawn Braa for her support and for the opportunity to participate in this discussion on her Blog. What a great way to begin to get people ready to facilitate intentional conversations, following the guidance Stacie provides in her book.

I have dedicated my career to making sure young children are valued and  respected as capable and competent people who are highly motivated to acquire the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in school and life. I am proud to think of myself as a Practitioner who is constantly learning and improving my ability to serve young children, their families and those who work with them well. For the past seven years, I have had the opportunity to be a member of the leadership team of an organization in the southeast area of Washington, DC. The part of the nation’s capital considered to be of the most underserved areas of the city. This experience has deepened my understanding of the sense of urgency needed to professionalize the field of Early Childhood Education (ECE). Where a child lives should not be an indicator of whether they will succeed in school and life.

I assume you have read the book and followed the conversation on the Blog to gain a better understanding of the ideas in the book and how to apply these ideas to be able to organize a group of people to think about the ideas and engage in intentional conversations about the ideas and the questions in the book. Read More