Research consistently tells us that being outside is good for our health, both mental and physical. We are not meant to spend our lives contained within four walls and neither should our children. Why limit education to the indoor classroom when the great outdoors has so much to offer?
One sentiment that I’ve heard echoed from infant and toddler teachers across the country is that they don’t feel valued by their peers, administrators or classroom parents. This is a feeling that I know all too well. During my time as a toddler teacher it was hard for me to see the connection between being a caregiver and an early childhood educator. I spent my days changing diapers, redirecting, settling big feelings and tidying up. If I couldn’t see my value as an educator then how would anyone else? It took years of reflecting and researching before I truly understood the importance of the work I was doing each day.
My philosophy as a director was, if the teachers are happy, the children are happy and if the children are happy, the parents are happy. While that formula is not 100% I promise in most situations happy teachers will make an administrator's job much easier. Happy teachers do not come without a lot of time and nurturing from the administration. So, how do you create a culture where your teachers feel safe, challenged, and encouraged?
In Part 1 of my blog post on professional growth I share the reasons why growing personally and professionally is necessary. It is important to remember that growing and reflecting on our teaching practices is not something that we rush to complete. I am twenty years into my educational career and I am still learning and growing. There are often times I wish I could turn back the clock so that I could apply my newly developed skills in an early education classroom. Instead of focusing on the past I take to heart the saying “when you know better you do better” and I share the gifts of this new knowledge with educators so they can transform their teaching practices.
You might have guessed that the topic of professional growth is something that is near and dear to my heart. Our entire business was created to provide continuous opportunities for teachers and parents to reflect upon their practices. It may seem like a convenient focus for a blog post but in reality it is something that has weighed heavily on my heart for a long time.
In my house we have a bit of a book obsession. Recently I ran across a book my husband purchased for my 13 year old following his many inquires about how things work in the business world. The book was called, The Visual MBA by Jason Barron. On the cover he touts “2 years of business school packed into one priceless book of pure awesomeness.” He had my attention!
The foundation for learning in my last school was based on a hands-on, play-based approach where children had open ended time to explore. There were adult guided explorations and a flexible daily schedule. Children engaged in extended periods of play that was uninterrupted by an adult. During those years I noticed that children’s ability to engage in unstructured play, compared to their same aged peers, often related to the age they enrolled.
We thought about it, we talked, we researched and now we are ready! Carrie and I are launching our Transforming Early Childhood Education blog with this post.
First, a little about how we got here.
TECE has been years in the making. It first started as an idea that Carrie held alongside her teaching career spending her first year out of the classroom designing and facilitating in-person workshops in early childhood programs and conferences. Then grew as I came on into a more expansive dream including online professional development courses. As we talked about what we wanted to do with our lives in education we had many overlapping ideas and goals but what it came down to is both of us wanted to reach and support as many teachers as possible.
Now, we are busy creating!
We travel all over the east coast facilitating in person workshops and conferences, we are digging into producing online courses for teachers, and creating free parent videos. We are currently planning our inaugural conference, beginning our blog, and working on a free digital resource library for teachers and parents.
What will you get from this blog?
This blog will cover a range of topics inspired by articles and books we read, conferences we attend, and inspirations we have from working with you! We hope you will engage, share your thoughts, and become an active member of our community. You can expect new posts weekly beginning in February.
Danielle and Carrie