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"I Heard That... And It Hurt!"

Posted by on in Early Childhood
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A common occurrence in early childhood programs can often fly under the radar for you, the administrator, but can drive a rift between your teachers that threatens the peace in your program.

Let’s take an inside look…

One of your teachers is working on a CDA. This may be her own initiative or perhaps at your request. Whichever the case, some of her co-workers have begun behaving badly, talking behind her back, ridiculing her efforts, or avoiding her. At a time when your employee should feel encouraged and pumped about her professional development efforts, she may feel isolated, rejected, threatened, or even bullied by the same people who had been her friends. What would cause these teachers to turn on her? What can be done about it? And, could this have been avoided in the first place?

Often, when a teacher begins classes towards a CDA, it can cause an undercurrent of discord throughout the rest of the staff. Many have been in the child care field for a long time and feel there is not much they don’t know. They may not be keen on the idea of having to go back to school. The teacher down the hall taking classes could be starting a trend that could mean everyone will soon be expected to do the same. Suddenly, “Little Miss Better-Than-Everybody-Else” is the enemy- someone to be criticized or shunned. These feelings may be driven by fear, misunderstanding, or misinformation (or all three). Has this happened in your program? Has this happened to you as a teacher? Tell us about it and how it was handled. Or, just share your comments!

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Debra Pierce is professor of Early Childhood Education at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana. Ivy Tech is one of the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college systems, serving nearly 200,000 students annually.
Her professional background has always involved children, over the past 40 years, having been a primary grades teacher in the Chicago Public School system, a teacher of 3 and 4 year-olds in a NAEYC accredited preschool for 15 years, and a certified Parent Educator for the National Parents as Teachers Program. She has also taught CDA courses to high school career/tech program juniors and seniors in preparation for earning their CDA credentials. She also conducts train-the-trainer events across the country and develops and teaches online CDA courses for several states.
Debra is active in her community supporting children's literacy and is on the board of directors of First Book in Indianapolis.
Debra is a CDA trainer and a certified Professional Development Specialist for the Council for Professional Recognition. She has spent the last 16 years dedicated to the success of those pursuing the CDA credential and is the author of The CDA Prep Guide: The Complete Review Manual for the Child Development Associate Credential, now in its third edition (Redleaf Press), the only publication of its kind. She hosts a website providing help and support to CDA candidates and those who train them at http://www.easycda.com
The comments and views expressed on this blog are not in collaboration or affiliation with The Council for Professional Recognition or Ivy Tech Community College.

Comments

  • Karen Lee
    Karen Lee Thursday, 22 March 2012

    I can understand how this scenario can take place. In my past, I have introduced the CDA as the entry level of competence, and many of the more experienced child care teachers did not understand why they needed to get the credential. Over time, as teachers and caregivers took the classes and enjoyed the learning, were paid for their time in classes, and then earned a nice shiny credential, the problem faded for most and they complied. It became important to get that credential. Then we were able to give small raises for those who got the credential. All of those things helped!

  • Debra Pierce
    Debra Pierce Sunday, 01 April 2012

    Providing incentives is often a good way to get teachers on board. Early on, they realize taking classes is actually fun, non-threatening, and they will actually learn some new things they can put to immediate use in their classrooms. It becomes the first step towards understanding the importance of lifelong learning.

  • Dr. Yvonne McCastle
    Dr. Yvonne McCastle Thursday, 22 March 2012

    Hello Mrs. Pierce and thanks so much for shedding light on such occurrences! As a CDA trainer and Advisor, I hear of such incidences all too often. I certainly feel that this could possibly be avoided by having directors of childcare facilities to take a more active role in encouraging and in some instances, facilitating professional development among staff and/or helping them to continuously seek out learning opportunities.

    Frequently, I share with administrators about the importance of creating professional learning communities within their organizations in order to build collaborative learning climates of shared knowledge and cohesive partnerships. This internal capacity to integrate and sustain new knowledge can be used for the benefit of the organization as a whole, including developing the most qualified and well-trained employees who want to serve and help children and their families. In turn, the director is able to effectively shape and manage the environment by shared understandings and access to the knowledge of others through organizational networks. As a result, organizations would be able to better meet the needs of children and their families.
    Thanks again for a great post!
    Dr. Yvonne McCastle

  • Debra Pierce
    Debra Pierce Sunday, 01 April 2012

    Yvonne,
    Encouragement is often key, as well as open communication and information-sharing with staff. Directors need to clear the air and dispel rumors about the CDA. Misinformation can often poison the waters and make forward progress nearly impossible. They should also make it clear that gossip and other poor behavior towards those who are working on this credential will not be tolerated.

  • Patti Dickmann
    Patti Dickmann Wednesday, 28 March 2012

    As a past child care director, this was a problem I encountered from time to time. Staff members working at the center the longest were the most resistent to change. As a director, you have to convince them that education is a good thing. In addition, you'll need to help them understand that just because they've worked w/ children for years, given birth to children or even used to be a child doesn't mean that they are qualified to be an early childhood educator. There is a certain amount of natural ability required to work w/ children. However, it also takes a great deal of education - education that should be never ending. If the director values education and continues to improve her/his skills through additional education/training, this will help to encourage the rest of the staff as well.
    Thanks for a great topic of dicussion!

  • Debra Pierce
    Debra Pierce Sunday, 01 April 2012

    Patti,
    I remember having a child care director in one of my CDA classes right along with her staff, earning this credential. She had a Masters degree in early childhood education, but was an enthusiastic member of our class. What a powerful message she was sending to her teachers. Perhaps other administration staff have done something similar?

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