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Category Archives: Week 1

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

 

An Inspiring Individual

Welcome to Communication and Collaborating in the Early Childhood Field! Over the next eight weeks, we will learn and explore the topic of communication together, sharing both personal and professional experiences. Before I get started, let me first extend a thank you for embarking on this journey with me and allowing me to partake in your learning experience. I am excited and honored to have the opportunity to work with talented and inspiring colleagues.

With that being said, allow me to begin our journey together by sharing with you about an individual who I believe had competent communication skills within an educational context. This is how my story goes …

I work in a multiple-disabilities classroom with two amazing colleagues. We support and collaborate with each other to physically assist and academically support our students. Since our classroom involves multiple disabilities, we are faced with additional challenges that other classrooms may not endure. For example, one of our students is ambulatory with a significant fall risk. One morning this past May, this student took a stumble that resulted in a trip to the ER room and stitches. While this student was ok, there were considerations to be made in regards to safety concerns within her IEP. Rita, the main classroom teacher, worked diligently on her IEP to ensure that it provided safety provisions for this student. One day, Rita discovered that someone has included false information in regards to this incident that depicted an inaccurate picture of the student. After a few days, Rita approached the individual who wrote this information. I was privileged to observe the conversation that allowed me to see how to effectively communicate.

During this conversation, Rita outlined her points, which were supported with factual information. For instance, Rita discussed with this individual that no one had interviewed her in regards to the student fall and therefore there was false information about this student. (For example, Rita had documentation showing that the student had stitches on her chin, while the information on the IEP depicted stitches on her head.) The individual commented that she was wrong with putting that information in there. Rita continued on, without any emotion, by describing how she felt when she read that information. After she finished, she allowed an opportunity for the other individual to share her perspective. As this individual shared, Rita remained attentive with direct eye contact. Once the other individual had finished sharing, Rita affirmed what she had heard and told the individual that she understood where the individual stood. Together, Rita worked with the other individual to correct the information on the IEP that incorporated both the other individual’s suggestions and Rita’s.

Witnessing this interaction showed me a lot about effective communication that I would like to model within my own communication. Some of the behaviors that made Rita an effective communicator were:

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After looking at all of the behaviors that Rita utilized in this conversation, I have begun to implement them within my own communication with others. For example, I am paying more attention to how often I am using eye contact. Previously, I wouldn’t engage in as much direct eye contact. However, through observing Rita, I can see how important it is and have begun to engage in more direct eye contact. In addition, I realized how crucial it is to have factual information, rather than just data based on my own assumptions. Through having documentation and facts that were accurate, Rita was able to be more effective in communication, which revealed to me that I need to bring truthful, accurate information into any conversation for more effectiveness. Furthermore, I grasped the idea that I need to first listen to an individual, then reaffirm what they have said before imposing my own thoughts. Through doing this, the other person/people will feel that they were heard and are important. Finally, I learned through Rita that an effective communicator also includes collaborating with the other individual/people to create a conclusion of the conversation together. For example, Rita worked with the individual to create a safety plan together, which reflected both Rita and the individual’s contribution. When I communicate with families, I realized that an effective conversation will reveal everyone’s input, rather than just one person’s. Modeling after Rita’s behaviors has refined my communication ability and enabled me become an even better communicator.

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2013 in Communication, Week 1

 

My Personal Research Journey

Welcome to Building Research Competency!

Over the next several weeks, we will learn about the in-depth process of research! The research process is relevant to early childhood education, as it continuous provides additional evidence and support to further enhance the quality and effectiveness this field has to offer. Therefore, it is crucial that we support and learn from each other as we work towards becoming critical consumers of research.

One of the initial steps in the research simulation project was identifying a general topic. From there we narrowed our focus and identified three related subtopics. After contemplating what ignited my personal and professional passion for early learning and development, I decided on the following:topic&subtopic

howthiscametobeWhen I first encountered the research simulation project, I will admit that I was overwhelmed by the amount of “diversity of issues, as well as the complexity within each issue” (Mac Naughton & Rolfe, 2010, p. 15). To choose just one general topic seemed like a daunting task to me, as I wasn’t sure where to even begin. Therefore, I compiled a list of topics that kindled my professional passion and challenged me to gain deeper insights and information. While my list was lengthy, I was able to narrow down to three general topics, with family relationships and partnerships ranking near the topic. I contemplated each issue, weighing which one interested me on a professional and passionate level and would “be of interest and significance to other people” (Mac Naughton & Rolfe, 2010, p. 16). Despite the fact that the other two topics captivated me, the desire to learn more about effective strategies to foster positive family relationships and partnerships far out weighed any other topic, and further research on this area would assist me personally, as well as benefit the families and other professionals I work with.

So, I went through this entire process to whittle down my topic to one specific focus. After I completed this task, I sat back and asked myself, Why did this area trump every other one? What was it about this topic that captivated me and motivated me to dig deeper? I recalled my personal experience as a parent of a young child. My son, who is currently 3, struggles with multiple disabilities that require numerous doctor appointments monthly and countless therapy sessions weekly. On top of this, I am a single mom juggling two jobs (which equate to about 48 hours a week), graduate school, and a beautiful son who needs more attention than a typical three year old. By the time I get to his child care center each day, my mind is already floating away with the long list of things to do. I do want to be an actively involved parent in my child’s early learning days. The desire is there. Yet, I struggle with how to get there. What are the strategies that I can utilized (and fit into my crazy schedule appropriately) to help increase my participation, which will then build family participation and cooperation? Therein lies one aspect behind the topic of choice for research.

Stepping aside from a personal perspective, I reflected on an earlier observation in a child care center, where I looked specifically for the involvement and cooperation of families. I tied a lot of professional passion for building family partnerships back to this sole observation. While I witnessed a few techniques that were used (like families being able to celebrate birthdays), I wanted to know what more can this center do to include more families? What about the families behind the scenes who appear shy and timid upon drop off and pick up? Or how about those moms or dads who struggle with a similar schedule like mine? What effective strategies are there that professionals can incorporate to include most, if not all, families in the learning and development of their young children? All of these questions remained with me, even months after the observation was complete. My passion was peaked. I want to know more about these effective strategies to help satisfy both my personal and professional questions ab

odetoexperienceAs I sit here, constructing this week’s blog post, I must admit one small thing to you all: I have had little experience with research. My personal experience is relatively slim. I usually shy away from research articles, as the unfamiliar terminology and statistics overwhelm me. I would incorporate bits and pieces from certain articles to help support research-based papers for undergraduate and graduate courses. Aside from this, I have dabbled little in the process of research.

With that confession out in the open, I can now freely pen my personal experiences thus far with this research simulation. Although it’s only been about two weeks since this course started, I can bravely state I have accumulated some personal experience. I have started to read through a handle from of research articles. I say a handful because my experience is just that: it takes time. Oh my, my poor mind fully expected to breeze through an article, yet two hours later I still sat at the table, trying to draw all of the connections throughout the process. I read each section of the articles at least a dozen of times (yes, a dozen as in 12), and after that I only began to understand the depth of the article. My personal experience quickly acquired the fact that this research simulation will consume more time and knowledge than I initially expected, yet I have high hopes that it will shape and mold me. Furthermore, I have begun my search for literature to support my subtopic. I am pleased to say that I have located several articles that support my research simulation. I am excited to begin to weed through them, identifying those articles that are well-supported and will enhance my efforts. Aside from these small feats in this research simulation, my personal experience halts to a stop. Yet, I am prepared to pick up pace, perhaps in dou

insightsRather than bore you to death with the droning on of my overflowing word count, I have decided to make it easier on your eyes with breezy bullet points of those insights I have gleaned thus far (and it’s only been two weeks!):

  • As stated above, research is time-consuming. Now I understand why dedicated researchers make a career out of it. Instead of simply glancing, one must explore deeply the article to gain the full connections, main points, results, and conclusions. While this may not be the case for the trained eye who just knows how to read research, I am beginning to understand that those completing research need time – lots of it!
  • There is a lot of terminology in research. One must be familiar and actually know the definitions to these words in order to fully grasp the depth of a research article. I speak from experience. I read through an article, not knowing any of the main terms used. Then I found the Appendix in the main course text book, which explained the main terminology. Using this as a resource, I went back to the article, and I could understand it much better. Terminology is key in research!
  • Not all research is of quality and value. Going through the checklists of criteria and acceptable standards, I was able to see how certain research articles and resources shouldn’t be used. All research needs to be approached cautiously and critiqued carefully. If we were to haphazardly use all of the research we just happen to come by, it could skew the results or lead us to one side or opinion of the issue.
  • There are a lot of steps in research. Read through this week’s chapter in the main text book, my eyes were really opened to just how much effort is put into the process of research. These steps must be completed, for if even one were skipped, the whole research process could be null and void. While there are a lot of steps in research, it is necessary. These steps contribute to the level of quality and credibilit

yourtakeThis is where you, my colleagues, come into play. Just as we can see in the research process, it can not be completed thoroughly and efficiently by a single person. It takes teamwork. So, how can you contribute? How can we work together as a team? Answering one or more of these questions is a great start!

  • What advice do you have in regards to the research process in general?
  • Are there any tips you use and have come to really enjoy when doing research?
  • What do you tend to shy away from in research?
  • What has been your biggest fear with research and how have you overcome this?
  • Do you use any strategies to comprehend a research article that is time-effici

resourcesAs stated above, we are a team. Therefore, I would love to share with you the insights I gained (see above for the start to the list), as well as any resources that I have come to greatly appreciated. Listed below are a few resources if you would like additional support for the research process:

What resources have you acquired that you want to share with your colleagues?

Come back for more posts about my personal experience and journey with research.

References:

Mac Naughton, G. & Rolfe, S.A. (2010). Doing early childhood research: International perspectives on theory    and practice (2nd ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2013 in Week 1

 

Getting Ready

Part 1: Establishing Professional Contacts

I was excited to begin establishing international contacts with early childhood educators. When I reviewed this week’s blog assignment prior to the class starting, I knew I would need to get started on this exciting project as soon as possible. On Tuesday night, I formulated a formal email and ventured over to the first blog resource website: http://www.naeyc.org/resources/partnership/globalalliance. There I found over 40 email addresses for international early childhood educators. Since I wanted to produce the best results with as many contacts as possible, I decided to email about 44 different professionals. After I sent those emails, I anxiously waited the next day to see if I had any response. By the time I got around to checking my email, I had one contact. Excited I opened the email link, only to find that it was an automated email, informing me that the office was closed until January 10. The email above that didn’t appear to promising either… Over 20 emails were not delivered due to faulty email addresses. Sadly, this portion of the project has produced no international contacts .. Yet.

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So in order to keep producing optimal results, I explored the UNICEF website Wednesday evening. From the website, I was able to find 7-8 additional email addresses of international educators, all affiliated with UNICEF. After sending the formal email to these professionals, I waited again to hear something … Anything.

Sadly,there have been no email responses from either set up groups. I am hoping within a week, I will get at least 1-2 responses.

However, in case this option if forming direct international contacts produces nothing, I am prepared to work with the alternative option of listening to the audio podcast.

In an effort to be fully ready for this alternative, should it be needed, I first browsed through their website, ensuring the forum is currently in working order. I was also able to see roughly 10 podcasts that were readily available now that cover a wide range of topics.

Once I knew the forum was working, I downloaded the podcasts app on my phone and subscribed to the world education forum. I am prepared to opt for the alternative option should no email responses be received.

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Within a week, I should clearly know which option I will be going for. Should no email responses be received, additional emails will be sent out as follow ups. If this still does not produce results, the alternative education forum will be used, and attempts will be made to contact at least 2 forum discussion leaders.

Part 2:

Prior to determining which early childhood organization, I decided to take sometime to explore and peruse the various websites provided on the blog links resource section. As I browsed each website, I kept in mind a few things that I was particularly interested in:

  • Easy-to-read format
  • Catchy introduction or home page
  • Useful tips and resources for a wide range of children, yet specific suggestions and resources for certain age periods
  • Usefulness for a parent (as I am currently raising my three year old son)
  • Encouragement and challenging for my growth as a professional
  • Finally – ideally (although this tends to not be as common) – a section for special education

Bearing all those those guidelines in mind, I tackled several websites. The first three or four were immediate turn-offs for me. Their introduction pages or home pages appeared cluttered and not easy to browse. Some of the wording was more difficult to read and didn’t appear parent-friendly. Within a few minutes, these websites were immediately crossed off my list. I then turned my attention to the National Black Child Development website, which caught my eye immediately. Although I am a white teacher, I am immersed with various ethnicities every day, as I work in an urban education setting. My interest was heightened as I quickly clicked on different links that lead to a wealth of information geared towards the development and education of black children. I was fascinated to learn about the various initiatives, resources, and even research that highlighted this different skin color. This website appeared to be a keeper.

However, I still wanted to check out one more website – Zero to Three. I had read previous articles from this institute that were interesting to me, therefore I held high hopes for this organization. The opening/home page was welcoming and easy to browse. There are a lot of catchy phases, especially appealing to a parent, like “Baby Brain Map,” “Download of the Week,” and “Featured Resources.” I was drawn in through their various connecting pages that just continued to pour information out. I was looking with a parent’s mind frame, as I am always curious about the delayed development of my son. The Baby Brain Map is fascinating, as there are specific brain developments for all ages 0-3. Links to resources were phenomenal, and I especially loved the section on sleep. When I began to calm down from my excitement over this webpage, I donned the cap of a professional and briefly checked out the public policy page, pleased to see the advocacy efforts put forth from this organization. Overall, this website was a keeper as well, as it appealed to almost all of the criteria I had in mind. (I haven’t fully explored the website yet, so I’m not sure about special education resources as of right now.)

Now comes the hard part – which website do I pick?

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Ultimately, I decided to go with the Zero to Three Organization (click here for that website). While I do work in an urban education setting, the majority of the student population are actually Hispanic. Therefore, I opted to go a root that would apply to my professional life on a wider span, than specifically narrowing down to just black children. In addition, I connected well to this website as a parent of a three year old and feel confident in referring parents and families here. Furthermore  as a  professional, I know that I will be challenged and continue to grow in my learning through exploring and getting to know this organization in depth. I am excited to continue my research and read their upcoming eNewsletters, of which I am currently subscribed to. While I am pleased with my decision of which website to go with, I will be checking out the National Black Child Development website regularly to continue learning about that specific population of children.

*Special note: If you currently work with a majority of black children (or maybe all black children), I would highly recommend the National Black Child Development website as a resource to tuck in your back pocket. It is a fabulous website. Even if you do not have a majority of black children, it is still an excellent resource to have for those families you do interact with, either presently or in the future.

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2013 in Week 1

 

Personal Birthing Experience and Birth Customs in Germany

My Journey to a Miracle …

I was almost 42 weeks pregnant, and I desperately wanted to have my child. I had stopped working when I reached my due date, which was about two weeks prior. I spent my days lying around, feeling contractions, and waiting, waiting, waiting for my precious baby boy to arrive into the world.

Friday afternoon, October 23, rolled around. As I got up from my routine afternoon nap, I had to go to the bathroom. When I had finished, I realized that I was still “leaking.” This was finally it! I called my midwife and informed her that my water was starting to break. There was no immediate rush, as my contractions hadn’t begun yet. I leisurely took my time getting ready to go to the hospital. My mother arrived home from work around 5, and my family sat down to eat dinner. Feeling no rush, just a trickle of water every now and then, I enjoyed my last meal before I became a mother.

We finally got to the hospital around 6:30 that evening. I was checked into triage, and it was confirmed that my membranes had indeed ruptured. Everything with the baby checked out fine, and it was now time to walk, walk, walk until the contractions began. My mother, who was my birth coach, walked up and down the halls for hours, with a periodic check from the doctor. Nothing was moving or happening. The only thing to do was wait until my little boy decided he was ready to arrive.

Around midnight, I decided to try to get some sleep. Contractions hadn’t started yet, so I figured I would attempt to catch my sleep before his big arrival soon. At 2 AM, I felt a sudden sharp pain that startled me from sleep. Contractions were starting. I breathed through my first one, which lasted about 45 seconds. I didn’t think they were so bad. I was certain that I could carry out my birth plan to remain drug free.

By 5:45 that morning, my contractions were steady and strong every 2-3 minutes. As much I as tried to stay away from any medications, the pain was becoming overbearing. I was given an epidural shortly before 6 in the morning. Afterwards, I was much more comfortable and was able to rest. By midmorning, I was 6 centimeters dilated and moving steadily along. I was happy and merry, as I couldn’t feel anything below my waist. I would be told a contraction was coming or going, but my body felt nothing.

Around 1 PM, I was fully dilated. It was time to start pushing! I was so excited to meet this little boy I had been carrying for nearly 10 months. Pushing started out easily. Although I couldn’t feel anything, I would push on cue with all my might. By 4:30, the concern was starting to grow that my son wasn’t moving easily through the birthing canal. My epidural was reduced, and I was put on Pitocin to increase my contractions. Different positions were attempted to help ease my son out, but he remained stuck.

At 5:30 PM, 4 ½ hours after I started pushing and over 24 hours since my water broke, the concern was written all over everyone’s face. My unborn child was stuck on my pelvic bone and wouldn’t budge no matter how hard I tried. My epidural had since been stopped, so the pain was wrenching through my body. I was begging anyone who would listen to help get my child out.

A doctor who was on-called emerged into my birthing room and reviewed my case. While forceps were briefly mentioned, a C-section was the ultimate route decided. I was rushed into the operating room around 6 PM Saturday night. An epidural was re-administered, and I was prepped for surgery.

At 6:32 PM, my son, Ephraim Emmanuel, entered into this world. Unfortunately, due to the intense, lengthy birthing process, he was born not breathing and with no heartbeat. After he was giving 2-3 minutes of CPR, he came back to life. He was quickly put on a ventilator and moved to the NICU. My little miracle continued his fight for the next month in NICU. However, nearly a month after he was born, my Ephraim was able to come home.

Although my birthing experience was dramatic, I consider myself extremely blessed to have taken this journey that led me to a true miracle, my little Ephraim.

I chose to share this story because it is my direct, personal experience with a birth. Prior to giving birth, I read about birthing experiences and watched numerous TV shows. However, once I personally went through it, I was able to put my story into words. In addition, I like to share my story so others know that they are not alone. There were so many times when I felt like I was the only one who went through an experience like mine. However, if I can share my story and let others know that someone else understands what they are feeling, then perhaps I can make a difference. Finally, I chose to share this story because I love to show people what a true miracle looks like almost 3 years later:

When it comes birth and its impact on child development, I can personally say that the birth experience, whether it is positive or negative, highly impacts how a child will develop. With a positive birth, where a child emerges healthy and happy, her/her development is off to a good start. However, when a negative birth experience occurs, like my son’s, his development has been severely impacted. He currently suffers from brain damage on the right, left, and middle. He struggles with developmental delays and learning how to eat and speak. All of his current developmental progress can be tracked directly to his birth experience. In addition, if a child is born addicted to drugs, his/her development may have already been negatively affected. I believe, based upon personal and professional experience, a child’s birth experience may significantly impact his lifelong development.

In Germany, they believe that midwives are very important, while doctors are optional. This is similar to my story, as I had a midwife present at my delivery. However, a doctor was also there at the end of my delivery to help provide additional assistance when my son ran into troubles. Germany also places a large significance on the birthing process and sometimes views a C-Section as a failure. This is a difference with my personal experience. While I was focusing on delivering my son, I was more intently focused on actually seeing my child. When I had to have a C-Section, I didn’t see it as a failure, but rather a life-saving effort that saved my son. While Germany may see this as a failure, I see my C-Section as a success.

One of main differences between my personal birth experience and Germany birth customs is the length in maternity leave. In the US, women are given between 6-8 weeks after giving birth. This is unpaid leave, and if any additional time is needed, a job may not necessarily be saved. For me, I had to return to work about 8 weeks after my son was born. While I was still struggling with health issues and learning how to handle a son with special needs, I was forced to return to work, or my job would be given to someone else. I often wonder if I had been given a lengthy amount of maternity leave, as they do in Germany, if my health issues would be better today and if my son would have gotten even better care from the doctors.

Another small difference is that I had the freedom to choose the unique name of Ephraim for my son. If I had been living in Germany, I would have had to write to the government to get an approval for his name. I am very glad that in the US we have the ability to name our child anything we would like (well, to an extent).

After comparing my personal birth experience and the Germany birth customs, I have gained a few insights. While midwives are important in the birthing process, doctors are just as equally important. They bring a certain level of expertise and knowledge that can help save both the mother’s and child’s life if dangerous situations emerge. If both a midwife and a doctor are present at a birth, I believe that unborn babies in distress can be helped quicker, which could prevent a negative development growth.

In addition, I also gained an insight about the importance of maternity leave. Germany provides up to 3 years with job security. If women were able to relax and know that their job is secure, they will be able to focus on their newborn. If we were to increase parent bonding and interaction with newborns and children, I believe that their developmental growth will be positively impacted.

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2012 in Birth Experience, Week 1