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Time Well Spent

Pause for a moment and look to the right of the right of the screen —->

You see that number there? Currently, it is at 2. We have two days left in this course, which essentially means we have 2 days left until we have officially received Master’s Degree status. I’m thrilled to have reached this point, and I’m so honored to have share this journey with all of you.

Ok, moment’s over. For my final blog post, I decided to shake things up a little bit. I made a Prezi! It was the first time I ever made one, and I’m so excited to share it all with you. Simply click on the following link to enjoy the mutli-award winning presentation of my reflections about this two year journey (well, perhaps it’s not multi-award winning, but it is still pretty cool):

Click here for Prezi presentation

So, what happens if you clicked on the link, ready for the fun in store, and for some reason you can’t access the Prezi. Fear not! I anticipated that this might happen. If it does … just keep reading on. While it may not be in the super fun format of a Prezi, I have below a written summary (complete with the pictures and video clip) of everything that is in my Prezi. Therefore, you can access the material one way or the other. 

So, sit back and enjoy my final blog post.

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Written Format of Prezi

We started here nearly two years ago, embarking on a journey that would change who we are professionally and personally.

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We have journeyed together through the valleys and hills, overcoming challenges and struggles along the way. We have learned a tremendous amount that has only left us better educators and individuals. As we take our last step towards graduation, what were some of the lessons you gained? What goals do you want to still accomplish?

Let’s take a walk … … and pause for a moment to remember those small nuggets of truth we have captured along our journey. Here are just some of mine …

Early Childhood Education: One Diverse Puzzle

One of the deeply felt lessons that I have learned over the past two years is that early childhood education is a diverse field that relies upon puzzle pieces from interconnected disciples to foster ideal growth and development for children, their families, and the early childhood community. You see, early childhood education is not just about providing care to young children or “babysitting” them. Rather, it is a diverse and profound field that is constantly changing and growing. It is a community that depends upon the influence, impact, knowledge, and experiences from so many different people, organizations, and groups. I love how Dwayne Crompton stated the many different interconnected disciplines that are not only needed, but desired to help make a stronger community for these young children and their families …

“Early education and care is a complex human development project requiring a keen understanding of sociology, science, management, community, politics, economics, finance, psychology, and a range of other interconnected disciplines … (An educator) need to become well-grounded in these areas and understand that these disciplines intersect at families and children” – Dwayne Crompton
(as cited in Scott, 2005, p. 20)

Partnerships are crucial for successful early childhood education.

Another deeply felt lesson I learned was that partnerships are invaluable within early childhood education. I always knew that relationships with families and children are important, however partnerships reach beyond just a “relationship.” A partnership produces equality within relationship, helping each person to feel valuable and significant. Partnerships with agencies, organizations, and even the community are crucial too. Bottom line, partnerships are significant within this field.

Family relationships and partnerships are “the bedrock of children’s school success, and without them, Urie Bronfenbenner stated that “intervention is likely to be unsuccessful” (Daniel, 2009, p. 10; Weiss, Caspe,& Lopez, 2006, p. 1)

Early childhood education is often like an iceberg.

A third deeply-felt learning I grasped was that early childhood education is so much more than what is typically seen, often like an iceberg. To effectively manage, direct, or administer an early childhood program, there are a ton of aspects to consider like budgeting, program design, rules and regulations, and even how a building is laid out. Far too often early childhood gets by passed because just the tip of the iceberg is seen, when really it is a dynamic field that produces long-last benefits for children, families, and even the society.

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There’s always room for growth.

The final deeply-felt lesson I gained was that there will always be room to grow, learn, develop, and change within early childhood education. We, as educators, must never stop learning and growing, as this will not only strengthen our professional development, but it will also make us more profound teachers as well. There will always be issues and trends that need to be addressed. There will always be areas for public policy and advocacy. Early childhood education is a field that is continuously revolving and changing. Therefore, we must keep up.

“We never know enough. In this arena, there’s always more to learn … This is a lifetime of work.” – Julie Olson Edwards (as cited in Laureate Education, 2011)

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After reflecting on the lessons that I have learned over the past two years, I contemplated what I have yet to accomplish, or better yet, what my long-term goals are.

An Inclusive Early Childhood Center

My ultimate long-term goal is to establish and oversee an inclusive early childhood center that serves children with varying needs, including those considered medically fragile. So many children require additional assistance to truly reach their ideal potential; however, within my community, an early learning center like this does not exist. There are wonderful child care centers that try to include children with varying abilities, however due to lack of resources and training, these children somehow fall between the cracks or learn in an inappropriate developmental environment. Therefore, my long-term goal is to eventually open up an early childhood center designed exclusively for these children and their able-bodied peers to reach success side-by-side.

High Quality Early Childhood Education

Over the past two years, I have explored the components of high quality early childhood education, as well as the countless benefits it produces for children, their families, educators, the community, and even the economy. Based upon this wealth of knowledge, one of my lifelong ambitions now incorporates the desire to be a agent for social change by bringing high quality early childhood education to every young child around the world. While this may seem like a nearly impossible task, I know that I will be joining the ranks of others who have gone before me and who currently support me. When my time is finished in this field (in many, many years), I intend to pass along my lifelong goal to those coming behind me to ensure that this desire is slowly, yet gradually accomplished.

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So, how do you see early childhood education? Have your perceptions changed, like mine did? Over the past two years, my perspective of this field has grown tremendous to incorporate a variety of interrelated components that influence and impact early childhood education. This is how I see it now …

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Before I sign off one final time, allow me to leave you with just a few of my favorite quotes about early childhood education.

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Make sure to stay in touch!

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Feel free to contact me at any time via my personal email at elizajane1024@gmail.com

And may you always remember … you are a superhero. 

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Signed for one last time, your colleague-in-crime, Erin

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4 Comments

Posted by on April 26, 2014 in Capstone, Final Blogpost, Week 8

 

Jobs/Roles in the ECE Community: Internationally

International. Reaching across the seas into different nations. That’s what the focus is this week: international organizations and jobs. Ok, I’ll admit, when I first read this assignment, I though to myself, Really, how many international organizations can there be? I know that we have already explored the countless organizations and communities of practice at the local, state, and national level. However, could there really be international organizations for education early childhood education? The answer is quite simple: no. YES! I was so impressed by the amount of organizations and community of practices that I came across that are international advocates for the well-being of children, their families, and fellow educators. Although there were quite a few, I picked out a handful that appealed to my professional (and personal) interests. Keep reading on to find out more …

NAEYC

National Association for the Education of Young Children

What list of organizations and communities of practice would be complete without the National Association for the Education of Young Children (or better known as NAEYC)? I began to explore this organization with the mindset that it was a national organization, reaching across the United States. However, in one of the first sentences, the words “world’s largest organization” (NAEYC, n.d., emphasis added) caught my attention. Could it be that NAEYC stems across the globe, impacting other educational leaders in different countries? Once again, the answer remains YES! Turns out, NAEYC hosted a recent International Institute that brought together nine different leaders from six countries, so they can learn about the best practices within early childhood education. How cool! In addition to admiring its international efforts to train other educators about best practices, I adore the passion that NAEYC takes to ensure that the well-being of children and their families are being met, especially educationally and developmentally. I enjoy browsing through the countless statements that they uphold, especially in regards to inclusion and diversity. Their statements have impacted my professional development so much that I’ve adopted very similar beliefs that they uphold. I also really, really admire their accreditation program they offer. High quality early childhood education is so important for young ones to reach their optimal potential, and with NAEYC accreditation program, high quality becomes easier to reach and accomplish. It may not be easy, but then again, high quality takes dedication and devotion to achieve! I could continue on about NAEYC and my adoration for this organization, but I think I’ll let you read more about it yourself (National Association for the Education of Young Children [NAEYC], n.d.). Find more information here: http://www.naeyc.org.

STC

Save the Children

Here’s another confession: I have been very focused on local, state, and national efforts in education that I am not brutally aware of the significant needs that face countless children around the world. While this is definitely an area that I need to strengthen, I gained a lot more awarenes by exploring the international organization of Save the Children. I was drawn to this community of practice because it doesn’t just focus on one group of children in a specific location, but rather it highlights numerous children in over one hundred countries around the world. I’m drawn to this organization’s passion to advocate for the health, well-being, and safety of all children, not just those in the United States or Europe (or some other country). Reading about this organization made me realize that as an early childhood educator I need to become an advocate not just for those children that I directly work with, but for the other children around the world who need a voice as well. I am inspire through Save the Children to make my efforts internationally known, so those child refugees in Syria can receive some relief (Save the Children, 2014). Read about these outstanding efforts and more at http://www.savethechildren.org.

CEC

Council for Exceptional Children

I’m sure by now many of you are aware of my passion for inclusion and children with varying abilities. So, really, it shouldn’t be a shock that the Council for Children was included in this group. Like NAEYC, I actually thought that this was nationally based just within the United States, but once again the words “international community” (Council for Exceptional Children, 2014, emphasis added) caught my attention. The Council for Exceptional Children is an national international organization that strives to increase the quality of life and educational opportunities for individuals with varying abilities. I am drawn specifically to this international community of practice because it is a body of individuals who are dedicated to improving the well-being of children (and others) who have disabilities. So often these children remain voiceless and fall between the cracks. Having an organization that advocates and believes in children with disabilities leaves me with hope that inclusion, equality, and diversity will hopefully become well-known topics in the future. I also enjoy that this organization offers countless resources, like publications, public policy, and advocacy opportunities. The Council for Exceptional Children inspires me to join the many voices across the world to advocate for the wonderful children with varying disabilities abilities (Council for Exceptional Children, 2014)! Find out more information at http://www.cec.sped.org.

DEC

Division for Early Childhood

Sometimes you just have to save the best for last. The Division for Early Childhood is actually affiliated with the Council for the Exceptional Children, however it does have its differences. The Division for Early Childhood is specifically for individuals who are working with children with special needs (up to age eight) and their families. So, honestly, this international organization is straight up my alley in regards to my passion! One of my favorite things about this organization is that it teamed up with NAEYC to create a joint position statement on inclusion. Until this statement was released, there was no general definition of inclusion, which lead to a lot of misunderstandings. However, once this joint positional statement was released, inclusion became a lot clearer, especially for the realm of early childhood. Another thing that draws me to this nonprofit organization is that it is geared towards early childhood and special education. Both of these are two of my biggest professional passions, so I get very excited when I start exploring the different positional statement, professional resources, and proposals this organization offers (Division for Early Childhood, n.d.). Go to http://www.dec-sped.org to discover more exciting information!

An International … Job?

I, for one, am not looking to extend my employment opportunities past the boundaries of the United States. Sure, I may spread my wings and fly to another state, but to another country? That is far less likely. However, just because I prefer to stay stateside does not mean that I can not partner with an international organization to impact the lives of children around the world. Exploring the above international organizations and communities of practice lead to the discover of a few exciting job opportunities for my possible professional future. (Whether or not I am currently qualified is another story … read on.)

associate director

Associate Director, Policy & Advocacy, Early Childhood Development

Well, right off the bat, I found a job that can impact many children’s lives within the United States, and even around the world. Save the Children has a position currently open for an associate director in policy and advocacy directly related to early childhood development. I figured I will be getting my Master’s degree in that field, so perhaps I would be a bit more qualified that I expect. But, I expected wrong. This job includes the responsibility of creating and engaging in lobbying strategies to help increase investments in the early childhood field at the local, state, and national levels. Specifically, this individual is to develop and promote educational and advocacy opportunities that reaches the executive and legislative branches at the national level. (Ok, so I may be getting my Master’s in early childhood, but I’m still a small town girl, remember?) I certainly will meet the requirement of the Master’s degree (well, that’s one good step), but I definitely do not have anywhere near five to seven years of professional experience in Congressional and administrative outreach. I also do not have any established contacts “within senior Washington governmental and nongovernmental policy circles” (Save the Children, 2013). While I certainly do not qualify for this position now, I have an idea of how I can become qualified, and I think a community of practice will be able to help me take a few steps closer towards applying for this job (just … many years down the road) (Save the Children, 2013).

executive director

Executive Director for the Division for Early Childhood

Since the Division for Early Childhood is an international organization that resonates closely to my personal and professional passion, why not shoot for the stars and become their executive director? Ok, so maybe I have several more years before this becomes a reality, but it is nice to start envisioning how I can prepare myself now to be an ideal candidate should this position open up again. Basically, the executive director position is pretty much as it sounds: making sure the organization is operating in a manner that achieves its projected outcomes. What does this entail: organizational leadership, administrative leadership, financial management (and planning), ongoing communication with board members, promoting professional development, and recruiting (as well as maintaining) members. Phew, that’s a lot to swallow! I guess I need to start now if I desire to become an executive director in ten years! I do have extensive experience in early childhood special education and early intervention, so that’s a step in the right direction. However, I need to increase (or maybe start is a better word) my skills and knowledge on running a nonprofit business, as well as better financial management skills. In addition, I need to be able to show that I have a successful track record of “marketing, public relations, and communication strategies” (Division for Early Childhood, 2013). While I still have a lot to achieve for this goal, it seems like a great job that would stir my passion, making me a more effective leader.

senior meeting planner

Senior Meeting Planner

Let’s tone it down a bit and try to shoot for a job that is more in line with my current qualifications. Being the senior meeting planner for NAEYC involves managing and coordinating the many details for the annual professional development institute, as well as assisting with the annual national city-wide conference. Being that I love to organize lots of details, this job is starting to show promise! The minimum requirement is a bachelor’s degree (check mark!), but I would need at least five to seven years in logistics coordination for associations and multi-site meetings (I have none). So, I may not be an exact match right now, but at least I know which direction to head in! In addition, I can further fine tune my interpersonal and organizational skills, as well as my team working abilities. As I work on all of these areas, hopefully I will be qualified to fill this position one day in the future (NAEYC, n.d.)

So, there you have it! Local, state, national, and international organizations, communities of practice, and job opportunities! I have enjoy these past few weeks of exploring and discovering, as well as reading what you all have found on your journeys. As we wrap up not only this course, but this program, I can hold my head up high, knowing that I have a wealth of information tucked neatly away to help me become an outstanding educator and a dynamite advocate for social change.

Until we meet again for one last time, your colleague-in-crime, Erin

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2 Comments

Posted by on April 12, 2014 in International, Week 6

 

Jobs/Roles in the ECE Community: National/Federal Level

When I first started to read about this assignment, I was so excited to finally start mentioning some of my favorite early childhood organizations. So, I began the research days ago. I started with NAEYC, as I just know that this organization would be such a hot topic. It wasn’t until I got into the middle of researching the Council for Exceptional Children that I realized these organizations were national international organizations! (Stay tuned though for my next post highlighting these international organizations!) I had to start all over again, refining my focus on just those organizations or agencies that spanned across the Unites States. I’m so glad that I had this challenge of narrowing my focus, because I found some amazing organizations and agencies that operate here within the United States. While there were certainly a lot to pick and choose from, I narrowed it down to twelve, err, no six, nope … how about four? Continue to read on about these four fabulous early childhood national or federal organizations that appeal specifically to me and my professional passion.

NCCA

National Child Care Association

I absolutely love the idea behind this organization, as it strives to help families identify a licensed, high-quality early learning program or child care center. This is such an important factor for the learning and development of young children – high quality! When these kiddos are exposed to such a high level of quality, they will truly be able to capture their ideal learning and growth potential! I was also impressed that this organization has been successful influencing “the private sector at state and national policy and legislative tables” (National Child Care Association, n.d.). It also offers a lobbying team, conferences, resources, articles, and so much more! This is definitely an organization that has captured my interest as their passion for high quality child care or early learning is so contagious! I’d love to become involve in the lobbying aspects, as I believe that more federal legislation needs to be considered for optimal learning and growth for young children. The annual membership dues for an individual is a steal for $25 (National Child Care Association, n.d.)! If this interested you, feel free to explore their website in depth at http://www.nccanet.org.

NEA

National Education Association 

Ok, so this organization might seem a bit out of the ordinary. You may be asking yourself, wait … public education?!?! Does she know that we are actually studying early childhood education? Don’t get me wrong – we are definitely focusing on the little ones, however I really was interested in this association, as it strives to raise awareness about the importance of public education (which actually can include preschool). I liked their stance that public education is both a human right and a civil right – really, it’s an equal opportunity for all children. This supports my deep professional passion for including all children, regardless of ability, to receive a free and appropriate education. This association’s website is also stocked full of such amazing resources, like lesson plans, teaching strategies, advice, funding opportunities, and upcoming events. The individual membership dues run about $24 (National Education Association, 2014). Considering this organization? Find more informaiton at http://www.nea.org.

ZTT

Zero to Three

This nonprofit organization began in 1977 and is by far one of my favorite national organizations for early childhood education. Not only are there excellent resources, but this entire organization really embraces a collaborative effort by reaching out to families, parents, professionals, and even policy makers. Remember Bronfenbenner’s ecological theory? I feel that this organization spans across each of these levels, helping to make an even bigger impact on the learning and development of children. In addition, they also look at early childhood from so many different perspectives – social, physical, emotional, relational, and linguistically – to foster the awareness that a child’s development is truly interrelated. The website is chalked full of resources for a variety of audiences, including journal articles, research and even a public policy kit. I urge you to check out this organization, as they might have excellent resources for your issue/challenge (Zero to Three: National center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families, 2012). See http://www.zerotothree.org for more information.

OEL

Office of Early Learning

Lastly, but certainly not least, I decided to explore the realm of federal agencies to see if there was any support for early learning and development. This committee or agency (I’m not really sure which type of group it is considered) actually works to support the United States Department of Education’s Early Learning Initiative to help improve the overall development of the learning and development of children. This federal committee really intrigued me, as they oversee different grants, like the Race to the Top. I am definitely interested in learning more about this federal organization (committee?) to help support different grant opportunities for early childhood education (U.S. Department of Education, n.d.). Are you interested too? If so, check out www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oese/oel/aboutus.html

Federal or National Job Opportunities

Of course no research would be complete without looking up different job opportunities! In my last post, I explored various local and state possibilities, so I wondered is there anything out there remotely within my reach on a nationally level. With a bit of digging, I managed to find three different opportunities that actually interested me. Some are definitely within my reach, while others may need a bit more experience or education. Without any further adue, the three job opportunities are:

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This job opportunity resides within Washington D.C., so if I ever wanted to relocated from my home state of Pennsylvania, this might be the place I end up at! (How far do you think that commute would be every day?!?!) Anyway, before I get side tracked, a Senior Confidential Specialist (in Training and Development) primarily works with training adults. Basically, I would design, create, develop, deliver, coordinate, and evaluate an employee training program. Now, don’t get me wrong – working with children is such a joy, however I am definitely up to the challenge of working with adults. Besides, I absolutely love to design and create things, so this may just be up my alley. The job requirements calls for a minimum of a bachelor’s degree (check mark!), but a Master’s degree in preferred (coming up!). In addition, I need at least five years of experience working in creating, developing, and delivering training for adults. (Uh oh! This is definitely an area that I need to focus on and build up, as my years in this experience fall into a big fat zero!) However, I do have the strong communication and problem-solving skills, but I do think I need to gain more experience in curriculum and instruction design, as well as more knowledge about it too! Looks like I am well on my way for this job, but I still have some ways to go (National Education Association, 2014).

SPA

Ok, so maybe the above job didn’t quite fit my skills and expertise at this moment in the game, but how about a Senior Program Associate? This job really held my interest, as it involves a lot of technical support to the Birth to Three Institute. (Remember how much I adore the Zero to Three organization? It just so happens that this job is related to it!) So, basically, I would be providing a lot of technical assistance and training to different organizations and agencies, like Early Head Start, in regards to designated meetings and conferences. I would also provide administrative support, which just so happens to be something I am an expert at! Looking at the job requirements, I definitely have the minimum of a bachelor’s degree, as well as the collaborate and creative skills needed. In addition, I am a technological savvy (another skill needed), however I should be refined and enhance  my technology knowledge and expertise. Otherwise, I fit right into this job (Zero to Three, n.d.).

ERSA

Well, as long as we are shooting for a long-term job opportunity, we might as well add a Education Research Scientist/Analyst to the bucket list. I do desire to become an educator, not really a scientist; however exploring and diving into research articles definitely captures my interest. I love to see how methods are completed, as well as the results with the follow-up recommendations or discussions. Therefore, becoming an education research scientist doesn’t sound terrible, but rather exciting. I’d love to become part of a research team that helps to shape the future world of early learning! Although this job sounds great (with excellent pay and benefits, might I mention), there are a lot of requirements that I don’t quite fit into yet. The biggest one? A doctoral degree. I am going for a doctorate Master’s degree however, so I am a step closer – but I do need to gain more education before even considering this job. In addition, I need to have at least five years of experience related to educational science (how does one go about getting that anyhow?), as well as at least five years of research experience (United States Office of Personnel Management, 2014). Looks like I’ve got my work cut out for this job, but it sure is a nice goal to reach towards!

So, that is just touching the surface of the national or federal agencies/organizations that support early childhood education, as well as a few job opportunities on the national level. Stay tuned for my next post, which will explore international organizations (and maybe a few job opportunities too!).

Until then, your colleague-in-crime, Erin

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3 Comments

Posted by on March 28, 2014 in National Support, Week 4

 

Exploring Roles in the ECE Community: Local and State Levels

Ok, I’ll admit, I live in such a tiny bubble within my community. Honestly, the biggest city from my hometown is about 45 minutes away. Sure, we enjoy shopping and hitting the big city once in a while, but within my area, we are very small. So small, in fact, that the idea of early childhood organizations or communities of practice never really dawned on me. I have heard, of course, of National Association for the Education of Young Children; however, that is a nationally recognized organization for early childhood. Could it be that there are in fact local and state organizations for early childhood education? Should I take a daring further step and ask, “Would they even appeal to me?” Within the course of one evening, my mind was overwhelmed by how much support the local and state levels have to offer early childhood education. Not only are there organizations and communities of practice, but they actually appeal to me – sweet, hometown ol’ me! Allow me to introduce you to a few of them:

DIPCPI was SO excited to discover this organization, which focuses on current issues related to inclusion and diversity. This organization truly adopts a community of practice attitude by offering regular meetings and including a diverse amount of people, like businesses, educational representatives, health care representatives, and even those who represent the law. To me, this is a true picture of a diverse community of practice. I was drawn to this organization primarily because it fosters a community of practice that focuses on my professional passion of inclusion. Not only would I be able to meet countless individuals who share my passion, I would also be able to gain a wealth of resources of how to become an even bigger advocate for inclusion, as well as so many other topics. In addition, I really liked this organization because it discusses controversial topics, like LGBT in the work place. I would absolutely love to engage in this type of organization to expand my own knowledge about these issues. Does this group appeal to you? If so, please feel free to visit their website at: http://diversityinclusionpcp.org/.

PennAEYCSo, how about a raise of hands for those who did not know that NAEYC has state-affiliated organizations, like the PennAEYC? Well, if you raised your hand, it’s ok. I’m in the same boat. With just a bit of research, my awareness about state early childhood organizations raised significantly! The PennAEYC is indeed the state affiliation of NAEYC. I adore the NAEYC and the various stances they take about countless topics within early childhood education. Therefore, this group appealed to me with just the simple letters of NAEYC, however I was drawn more so to this group because it is within my own state. Rather than just networking with professionals nationwide (which is still a great practice), I will be able to join forces with professionals within my own state! Through this resource, I hope to gain additional resources and networking leads for my own community of practice, as well as join additional communities of practice to enhance my professional knowledge and understanding. Interested in this state- affiliated NAEYC group? Visit their website at: http://www.pennaeyc.com. (Or maybe your state has its own affiliation – a simple google search is so helpful!)

PAKeys

I love, love, love the Pennsylvania KeyStone Stars program, which is an accreditation program to produce high quality early childhood centers. This is a state-wide organization, however the state is broken down into different regions, like the Northeast region (which is where I am from). I am interested in this specific organization (as in the Northeast region), because it will definitely allow me to build a broader network of professional support within my own area. In addition, I will hopefully be able to work with local centers on achieving the next star in the accreditation program. At the state wide level, the Keystone Stars is a great program that works well to advocate for high quality early learning environments. I’ve had the honor of working for two different centers who were enrolled in this program, and the difference between stars is outstanding! In addition, there are grants and awards provided for each star earned. Currently, there is only one 4-star center within my community (which is one of the highest levels, if not the highest, a center can go). I’m excited to partner with the Northeast Region to advocate for more 4-star centers in my community. Read more about this organization at: http://www.cscinc.org/northeast-regional-key

LH Alright, so the Lauren’s Hope Foundation may not be a professional organization, however I felt it was an important foundation to mention, as it works to provide support for children with brain injuries and their families. Since this aligns smack dab with my professional passion, I adore this foundation. Perhaps I should mention that I am actually apart of this foundation, as a parent since my son suffered from a brain injury at birth. This foundation offers seasonal activities, like a Mother’s Day massage and breakfast with Santa. It may not sound like much, but hosting these activities offers parents and families additional support from other families and professionals. It is a tremendous help! In addition, this foundation is a part of a community of practice that works to provide hyperthermia treatment for newborns with brain injuries. Amazing, right? Read more at http://www.laurenshopefoundation.com.

A Shift in Thinking …

Here’s another confessions: I enrolled in this Master’s degree program with the intentions of becoming a director at an early childhood program. It was a simple ambition, and I thought for sure that role would be enough to make a difference within my community. While I am not saying that it is not enough, after completing all of these courses, I realized that my ambition has changed. I am inspired, motivated perhaps, to take on a professional role that would involve working within a community and perhaps with multiple centers, not just one. I desire for my advocacy and professionalism to impact as many people as possible. Therefore, I shifted my thinking from being a director to becoming something more in early childhood education. However, my question remained: what more is out there for early childhood education? Alas … there is more … so much more. Here are just a few of the job opportunities I came across that really interest me:

cdp

Child Development Partner

Doesn’t this sound super awesome? This job opportunity would allow me to work with a variety of families by “providing comprehensive child development and family development services” (Community Services for Children, 2010a). Being a mommy-to-be or a brand-new mommy, you are faced with so many changes that thinking about child development seems like a foreign idea. However, with this role, I would be able to become an advocate and provide these new families with this information, enabling them to become better advocate themselves. This aligns directly with my vision of being a professional, hence, it’s truly an ideal job. While I have most of the skills and experience needed to fulfill this job, I would probably need additional experience working with infants and toddlers (as my little boy is nearly 5!), and working on my rusty Spanish is a must! However, other than that, I believe I am prepared to meet the majority of these job qualifications.

PDS

Professional Development Specialist

This role really grabbed at my professional core, at it deals with training other professionals to “increase educator proficiency in the teaching of STEM education” (Pittsburgh Technology Center, 2009). While I adore working with children and their families, one of my secret passions is training other professionals to increase their competency and ability to provide high quality care. This job opportunity sounds like a dream to me, as I would be able to design and create professional development sessions and instill in others my passion for high quality early childhood education. Furthermore, I’d get to present at “regional, state, and national conferences” (Pittsburgh Technology Center, 2009), which would allow me to truly impact a LOT of people. While this job opportunity sounds great, I would need to become a PQAS Instructor (or be willing to be trained.) Since I’m not quite sure what those letters entail, this would definitely be something I would need to investigate. In addition, I would need to gain more classroom teaching experience and deepen my awareness about research-based methods. It seems like a bit to accomplish, but if I put my mind into it, then there’s nothing I can’t do.

wds

Workforce Developmental Specialist (with the PA Keys Northeast Region)

This job is similar to the professional development specialist, as it focuses on “program planning and development” (Berks County Intermediate Unit, 2012). However, within this job opportunity, I would be working the the PA Keys program to develop “alternate pathways for the Career Lattice, develop and implement infant/toddler framework and credential, and Peer Mentor Certification” (Berks County Intermediate Unit, 2012). I love to research and design new curriculum methods, including those highlighting the needs for infants and toddlers. I am passionate about advocating for a more developmentally appropriate curriculum, and this job would definitely provide that opportunity. I’m excited about this job, as I currently meet all of the above skills and experiences needed. However, I should probably review and strengthen my understanding about the Keystone Stars program, including the career lattice and the infant/toddler framework.

So far, I am blown away by the amount of information I have gained just by doing research on local and state organizations. I am now even more excited to begin my career with a Master’s degree by looking at some of the job opportunities. Stay tuned, as I discover some exciting national and international opportunities in the coming weeks.

Until then, your colleague-in-crime, Erin 

references

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2014 in Capstone, Local and State Levels, Week 2

 

A Wordle Welcome

Welcome to our last class before we achieve our Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education!

For those of you who may have missed my Wordle during discussion posting, here it is one more time:

Wordle_Hontz

Ok, so it is a bit confusing, but I am wildly passionate about inclusion, salaries for professionals, partnerships, advocacy, and lastly 21st century skills. The other words are terms, concepts, and ideas that represent each of the five concepts among best, for me. (Meaning, you may pick out other words for these concepts, but through my professional and personal lens, this is how I view each of these concepts.)

Here we go, friends … 8 weeks left to go! We can make it!

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2014 in Capstone, Week 1

 

Professional Thanks and Support

Well, we made it! We have nearly completed another course that sets us closer our Master Degree. Before we finish up, I’d like to extend a few words of thanks and support to the following people:

nadia thankyou sonyathankyou michellethankyouLastly, I would like to thank each and everyone of you for the time and dedication you took to read my blog, offer comments, and even post responses to my discussion posts. I am grateful for each and everyone of you, my colleagues. Best of luck and wishes as we finish strong!

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2013 in A Word of Thanks, Week 8

 

Adjourning: Is It Really Important?

This week, we began to explore the different stages that a team progress through as they work together. These five stages are as follows:

5stages

While each stage is important, let’s take a few minutes (or perhaps several) to explore the final stage of adjourning. During this stage, groups are able to wrap up their projects and “reflect on their accomplishments and failures” (O’Hair & Wiemann, 2012, p. 257). It is also during this time that teams are able to celebrate their accomplishments and have “the opportunity to say good-bye to each other and wish each other luck as they pursue their next endeavor” (Abudi, 2011, p. 3). Have you ever experienced this stage when working within a group? How did performance standards and norms affect these groups? I know that I have been in numerous group situations over the years that ranged in performance and expectation levels, which did impact how well that specific group approached that adjourning stage. Here are just a few examples …

That Time I Worked With …

Alright, so I currently work with middle school students in a multiple disabilities support. During this past school year, the team that I worked with was dynamic! We worked so well together that we often did not even need to verbally talk about what to do next. We picked up on each other’s jokes and puns, while effectively working together. When we have to take care of the physical needs of the students, we willingly all pitched in to help, and our flow was so smooth that we surprised ourselves sometimes. We easily reached that performing stage, where we had “gotten to know each other, trust each other and rely on each other” (Abudi, 2011, p. 2). Our excellent team work was not only evident in our relationships, but our students made fantastic strides over the year.

Now, compare that to the next working situation when I was a teacher working with two paraprofessionals. From the start, it was obvious that we didn’t work that well together. I had to repeatedly give instructions and constantly keep them on track. There would be days when one or both paraprofessionals would come strolling in 15-20 minutes late, after I had gotten the students off the bus. When I approached the team about their performance, one of them came back at me with an attitude that effected how well he worked that day. This team struggled to pull together and assist the students. Our low-performance team did manage to make it through the adjourning stage that simply consisted of a “good-bye,” and we all parted ways.

That Time I Lived With …

During my college years, I experienced two (nearly opposite) living situations. For about 3 years, I lived with one other gal who literally was like my other half. Her weaknesses balanced out my strengths, and vice versa. We had the same sleeping patterns and similar class schedules. There were countless times that we enjoyed meals out, shopping together, and even vacations together. We complimented and completed each. We essentially became family.  To this day, years later after completing my degree, we still maintain contact and visit each other frequently. Although there were only two of us, it was apparent that as a team, we were effective!

My last semester of college (my previous roommate graduated earlier than I did), I was roomed with a few ladies that were more acquaintances than friends. Sure, we were nice to each other and respected each other’s space, but it was a much different group experience that my past three years. I did not do much with these ladies, and I preferred to keep to myself. Our schedules were complete opposites to the point that we didn’t get to see much of each other. Although we were a group living in the same environment, we never really worked together towards a common goal. Rather we held on to our own individual’s interests and goals.

High-Performance & Established Norms

As groups proceed through the different stages of group development, their effectiveness relies heavily on their performance levels and establishment of norms. For groups with a low performance and/or poorly established norms, it may be difficult to reach the performing stage, where “teams are functioning at a very high level” (Abudi, 2011, p. 2). In addition, low performance and poorly established norms may make the adjourning stage not as meaningful. Group members may be excited to leave the group, rather than embrace the time to remember memories and say good-bye.

On the other hand, groups with those high-performance levels and well-established norms should be able to reach a high level of effectiveness and work efficiency. Reaching that performing stage can be an easy task to accomplish, as everyone will be able to “combine their skills and knowledge to work toward the group’s goals and overcome hurdles” (O’Hair & Wiemann, 2012, p. 257). Upon the adjourning stage, it may be difficult to say good-bye. After working together as one entity, it may be an emotional task to say good-bye from a group that has been near and dear to your heart. These high-performance, established norms groups may also agree to maintain contact to continue their relationships (Abudi, 2011).

Consider these performance standards and established norms in relation to the examples I gave. When working with the group during the school year, we upheld clearly established norms, which provided a sense of consistency for everyone (including the students). We also were all committed to a high-performance, helping each other along the way. At the end of the school year, it was hard to say good-bye and part our separate ways. We had made so many memories together, that it was hard to let go of that dynamic group. The same goes for my college roommate of three years. Our parting was bittersweet. We both knew that we were off to achieve our life ambitions, but so much of who we were stemmed from our relationship (or very small group). In both these examples, high performance and clearly established norms contributed to a meaningful adjourning stage that lead to a promise of maintaining contact even after our group experience ended.

In contrast, when working with the two paraprofessionals and living with the small group of ladies, it was apparent that both groups had low-performance expectancy without clearly defined norms. This lead to ineffective team work, as well as an abrupt and brief adjourning stage. I do not keep in contact with either group, as I did not feel a need to continue relationships. Looking through these scenarios, I was able to identify that those groups with high-performance levels and clearly established norms have the hardest time saying good-bye and parting ways.

It’s Time To Say Good-Bye …

Part of the adjourning stage involves coming to an end and saying good-bye (Abudi, 2011; O’Hair & Wiemann, 2012). When considering the four different groups I referenced above, I think I had the hardest time saying good bye to the team that I worked with during the school year and my college roommate of 3 years. This was due to the fact that we established a relationship that was rooted in deep trust and respect. We truly looked out for the well-being of each other, rather than holding tight to our own individual interests. Working with these two groups was such a pleasant experience that I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. In addition, we worked well together. It was like we became one. As we reached that adjourning stage, it was difficult to say good-bye to the effective group that we had established (both in regards to the work environment and my roommate) and to the daily interactions that we all so enjoyed.

How Do You Say Good-Bye?

So, by now, you may start to realize that the groups with high-performance levels and clearly established norms were indeed the hardest for me to say good-bye. Yet, how exactly did we complete that adjourning stage? What rituals did we complete to help us say good-bye? Well, let me further explain …

With both my group during the school year and my college roommate of 3 years, we enjoyed a prolonged adjourning stage that lasted about a week. We took our time reliving memories and sharing how much we valued each other. Although it was bittersweet, we took the opportunities to truly instill into each other how much our group (however small) meant to us. In addition, for our last group outing, we enjoyed a meal together. We laughed and cried together, remembering how well our group  interacted. When it came time to that final good-bye, it was filled with tears and hugs, with promises to keep in touch. Due to the tight bond in each group, I have maintained contact with everyone from both groups.

Sadly, the closing rituals for the other two situations (rooming with a few other ladies and working with two paraprofessionals) were little to none. We did not really relive memories, nor did we dread saying good-bye. In fact, I felt relieved that I did not have to participate in those groups. We didn’t share a meal together, nor did we give any hugs for that final good-bye. Rather, our adjourning stage was short and sweet with a simple good-bye and good luck. There has been no contact since these two groups finished working together.

While working on my Master’s Degree ..

Groups or teams come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from just two members (like my college roommate) to a virtual group that comes together through the common bonds of technology. That means YOU! As colleagues, we have come together through the virtual classroom and shared our experiences, knowledge, and stories with each other. The more we get to know each other, the more we bond. The further we proceed in our courses, the more we must rely on. Indeed, as colleagues working towards our Master’s degrees together, we have truly formed a bond and become a team. So, how do we say good-bye? Well, since I have about another year before I have to think about that, I do imagine that it will be bittersweet. For nearly two years, you all have listened to me rambled on through discussion posts, blogs, and sometimes emails. I imagine that as we come together to graduate, we will enjoy getting to (hopefully) see each other in person. I imagine that we will be able to share a meal together to celebrate our accomplishments, while pouring over memories from classes. Finally, as it’s time to part, I hope that we will commit to staying in touch with each other, offering support in the upcoming years.

No, really, Adjourning is Important!

Sure, I will admit, there have been times when I wanted to just skip the adjourning stage and walk away from a group after the last goal was accomplished. But really … it is important to go through the final stage of adjourning. This is an essential stage of teamwork, as it will provide an opportunity to learn from past mistakes and successes in hopes to learn how to work better as a team in the future (should the team ever come back together). In addition, it will also create an opportunity for closure for the entire team. Rather than just completing the last assignment and walking away, the team will be able to say good-bye and have a sense of completion. Finally, adjourning will be able to help each team member identify how they personally performed within a group. Perhaps someone will learn that they need to be more assertive when working on a team or maybe they need to allow others to lead. This self-reflection and evaluation for team members will help individuals learn how to be more effective in future group situations.

So, overall, this post really serves to show how I have learned that the adjourning stage is significant within any group situation. Since I had the chance to say good-bye in all examples, I feel accomplished and ready to move on. Without this opportunity to even say good bye, I think I would have always wondered how the other team members felt. Furthermore, I learned a lot about myself through the adjourning stage, like how to be a better team player and how to improve my communication ability. So, that adjourning stage is essential after all.

References:

Abudi, G. (2010). The five stages of team development: A case study. Retrieved from http://www.projectsmart.co.uk/the-five-stages-of-team-development-a-case-study.html

O’Hair, D., & Wiemann, M. (2012). Real communication: An introduction. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2013 in Communication, Week 6