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Category Archives: Capstone

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

 

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:

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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.

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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 

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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:

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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