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Monthly Archives: April 2014

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!

photo (7)   DSC_0279

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