8 Mar

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


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


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

23 Feb

Beyond The Pages ECE Book Study: Chapter 2 (Week 4)

By Gayle Stuber

Gayle StuberStart with yourself—and consider what you want for the system in which you work.

What would you keep? What would you change in this system?

Field of Practice: the purpose of the field in question revolves around performance of a specialized and shared competence.  A ‘field’ is an invisible world filled with mediums of connections: an invisible structure that connects.

I have read and re-read both Chapter 1 and 2 to get started on this discussion—or, to use the author’s words, dialogue.  Chapter 2 is truly a way to begin the reflection needed—in a collective manner!—first individually and then, Read More

22 Feb

ECE Book Study/Conversation Timeline


In case you missed it, here’s the Book Study Timeline! Be sure to visit the FAQs pageNote that you may begin the study/conversation at any time! *Must participate (comment) in all 8 weeks to receive a certificate of completion.

(click on chapter or name below to access that content)


18 Feb

Beyond The Pages ECE Book Study: Chapter 2 Continued (Week 3)

By Jill Bella

Jill Bella ECE book study

Well, as promised, I am checking in and taking the book group in a slightly different direction. You’ve raised concerns and offered insights into both professionalizing ECE as a field of practice and not doing so. You’ve highlighted the disparity among wages between early care and education teachers and state licensed teachers. There have been various suggestions for how to go about professionalizing the field—from credentialing to using assessment tools that measure teaching practices. Some of you have challenged us to take this conversation outward. So I am asking you now to first reflect on your own activity related to your opinion on professionalizing ECE as a field of practice.

Close your eyes and take a moment to think about Read More

16 Feb

Beyond The Pages ECE Book Study: Chapter 2 (Week 3)

By Jill Bella

Jill Bella ECE

This past summer I attended a conference session facilitated by Stacie Goffin and several others on the topic of this book. Ten minutes into the session, two women at my table got up and left. When it came time for the participants to discuss some provocative questions about professionalizing the field, it was revealed by their remaining colleague that the two women had left because they were upset when Stacie had made a comment suggesting early childhood education (ECE) was not a professional field of practice. I was baffled. Didn’t they realize that early childhood education does not meet the definition of a professional field of practice? Did they misinterpret Stacie’s message as demeaning their work instead of trying to change the way it is valued for the better? Were they threatened by what professionalizing the field might mean for them personally? While I will never know the exact reason Stacie’s comment caused them to leave, their reaction frightened me. This session was billed as a provocative discussion, and if, as practitioners in our field we are that quick to dismiss or avoid a discussion that challenges our beliefs and attitudes, then our work to advance early childhood education might be even more difficult than I had already imagined.

This is why Chapter 2 in Stacie’s book is so critical. Titled “Thinking Alone,” this chapter provides an important method for demystifying our views about professionalizing the field. It contains a series of questions designed for self-reflection to get to the core of our assumptions, assess our commitment to change, evaluate our open mindedness, and dissect our conversational style so we are not a passenger of our thoughts and previous behaviors but rather a driver, determining what our thoughts and actions will be. Honestly and openly addressing these questions will make us more likely to “stay at the table” when challenged and motivate us to move the conversation to a new space rather than halting it.

I’d like us to use this week in our book group as a place to first surface those often unspoken barriers that we don’t always want to admit, but that shape our actions. Your responses may provide valuable information for future conversations around the country by those invested in re-conceptualizing ECE. Second, I want to use the list generated to dig deeper. My intent for this week is to facilitate a continuing discussion with several parts; giving you time to reflect on your responses and the responses of your fellow book group members, and then taking the conversation further. As a result, you haven’t seen the last of me! This first question allows you the opportunity to be part of the conversation—this book group is a way to explore ideas and voice opinions that will stimulate the thoughts of others. In a sense, this is a step toward Chapter 4, “Supporting Successful Conversations with Intent” and a mark of advocacy.  As a practitioner in early childhood education, you have a perspective and an opinion that can help shape the future.

Take a moment to list what might be at stake personally and professionally if early childhood education is restructured as a field of practice. I’ll begin with a few ideas that could have huge implications:

–          If qualifications are increased, many practitioners might not meet newly required qualifications

–          If qualifications are increased, the field could lose those good practitioners with low formal qualifications

–          If practitioners are licensed or certified, the cost may add another burden to an already financially challenged group

What do you think might be at stake if we restructure ECE as a field of practice? I will check in and facilitate more book group discussion as the week continues.

Director, Quality Supports and Assistant Professor
(800) 443-5522, Ext. 5059

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

This book study is sponsored by Redleaf Press


BeyondthePages ECE book Study

9 Feb

Beyond The Pages Book Study: Chapter 1 (Week 2)

By Roseann Murphy and Magdalena Palencia

Roseann Murphy           Magdalena P

Dear Colleagues,

At a time when education is increasingly focused on testable skills, policy-makers worry that young children are not prepared, everyone is discussing preschool “curriculum,” and many early childhood professionals are increasingly concerned about the rush to measurable outcomes. These so called curriculums are now finding their way into nurseries across the nation.

Stacie Goffin’s insightful book promoting the professionalism of Early Childhood Education (ECE) is timely and important if we are to keep the direction of ECE focused on what we know to be developmentally appropriate for children in our care. Ms. Goffin’s well thought out steps in this difficult challenge to move forward gives the reader a clear and succinct guide to follow in this age-old profession.

While reading Ms. Goffin’s book, we both felt the spark we have experienced so many times before; the spark to Read More

8 Feb

Join This Important ECE Conversation! It’s Not Too Late.

Beyond the Pages (BTP) is an innovative, global virtual book study/conversation. A book study is an opportunity for professionals to come together and participate in reflective thought. Lilian Katz reminds us that, “When practitioners come together and exchange information, they deepen their insight and understanding. They strengthen their awareness of the complexities of this field.”

People have been asking me, “Can I still participate even though the book study has already begun?” The answer is an enormous YES!! I’d love for you to join in this important ECE conversation. Your voice is important!

Since the book study is online, you are able to begin at any time. Read More

2 Feb

Beyond The Pages Book Study: Chapter 1 (Week 1)

By Kyra Ostendorf

Kyra ODear Friends and Colleagues,

Welcome to this first 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’m thrilled to be kicking this off and thank Dawn for the opportunity! Those of you who don’t know me may be wondering why Dawn asked me to contribute to this important book study. So, I’d like to share a bit about myself and will end this post by asking you to do the same.

About me with regards to this work: moving our field forward is at the core of everything I do. It’s the way I contribute to improving the quality of children’s lives. Before I can commit to working on a new resource for teachers, I ask myself: Read More

1 Feb

Book Study Introduction

Hello and welcome to the Professionalizing Early Childhood Education As a Field of Practice: A Guide to the Next Era book study. Congratulations on making the decision to engage in conversations with intent  with others in ECE around the country and world! Today I’m re-posting part of a Dec. 7th post written by the book author, Stacie Goffin, as an introduction to the study for those who may have missed it. Tomorrow, Feb. 2nd, Chapter 1 commentary will be posted.

book study“How would you answer these questions: What do you think distinguishes ECE’s knowledge base and practice from other child-serving professions interacting with the same age children? What commonalities bind us together as a field of practice, regardless of a program’s sector, policy mandate, or financing? Then consider this: What is the identifying name for our field of practice: early childhood education? Early care and education? Early education and care? Early learning and development? I know from experience that this list is not inclusive. Why do we lack a shared identifier for our field? Why do we continue to invent new terminology to describe who we are and what we do?

This blog book study asks these and many other questions to probe our thinking about our identity as a field of practice and the future we want for ECE. Be forewarned, Read More