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Believing in Children

Posted by on in Early Childhood
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We do have to be careful about pre-judging children, either through what we happen to read in their files, or what other teachers have said, or based on superficial behavior we see in other classrooms. Sometimes a child will have had a particularly rough year with a certain teacher and she writes about all of his shortcomings in his file. Well, his difficulties may very well have been justified, either by some underlying family issue or even a personality or temperament clash between him and the teacher. I'm sure we've all had a year like that.


Now, if the new teacher this year reads that file, she can react two ways... she can assume he will be a problem for her, as well, and gear up for trouble. She may plan to treat him a certain way, anticipating the types of behaviors her colleague wrote about. She will wait for him to act out, assuming he will. When teachers expect a child to act a certain way, he surely will live up to those expectations, and his chance for improvement or even feeling good about himself is lost.

Teacher looking at papers

Now, if she takes that file and puts it away, something different will happen. She will start the school year with higher expectations for him, giving him a clean start, on keel with the rest of his classmates. He won't be thwarted by the poison carryover from last year, but will be held to higher standards. And guess what, chances are he will rise to the occasion because if the teacher believes he's capable, he will believe it, too.


This is all about the dynamic (and almost magical!) relationship between the teacher's expectations and achievement motivation. I have seen it work in some of the most desperate situations, reinforcing my conviction that every child deserves to have someone who believes in her. And if she does, something wonderful is bound to happen.


girl with paint



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Debra Pierce is professor of Early Childhood Education at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana. Ivy Tech is 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.

Debra is a certified Professional Development Specialist for the Council for Professional Recognition. She has taught CDA courses to high school career/tech dual credit juniors and seniors in preparation for earning their CDA credentials. She also conducts CDA train-the-trainer events across the country and develops and teaches online CDA courses for several states, is a frequent presenter at national and state early childhood conferences, and is a Master Trainer for the states of Minnesota and Arizona. She was also awarded the NISOD Teaching Excellence Award by the University of Texas.

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 contributing author for Hamilton County Family Magazine and Indy's Child in Indianapolis.
She loves spending time with her two grandsons, Indy, who is 6 and Radley, almost 3.

Debra 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 are not in collaboration or affiliation with The Council for Professional Recognition or Ivy Tech Community College.
Follow me on Twitter at /easycda

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Guest Sunday, 23 October 2016