Many in the early childhood field would agree that the momentum surrounding early childhood education throughout the country seems to be building in our favor. On local and national levels, in the media and the government, with educators and politicians, early care and learning is in the news. This is exciting, but I'm torn because although the polls are showing that a majority of Americans believe in the importance of early education and care, I wonder if change is actually on the horizon.
We in early learning and development have known for years, backed by science, that the early years are critical. We also know through research findings that professional learning is a key component in consistent high quality care. Many in the field have been shouting these facts for years! In fact, I'd argue that although our field has made recent strides forward, historically we've been moving at a snail's pace. We need a sense of urgency - now is the time for a monumental push (and perhaps a shove!) Stacie Goffin is calling on us, within the field, to develop a "collective will or a shared passion for creating an alternative future" for tomorrow's children. (Dahlin)
Did you notice in the first two paragraphs that different terms were used? Early childhood education, early care and learning, early education and care, early learning and development... why are there so many? Do they refer to the same thing? Why is it that in nearly every state there are various early childhood systems working individually, disconnected from others doing similar work. I've always questioned these "silos" that seem to be deep-rooted within our field. Why reinvent the wheel ourselves when we can tap into our field's greatest asset...each other!
Last spring, the Institute of Medicine and National Academy of Sciences released the Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8 report calling for the transformation of the early childhood workforce.
"Persisting with the status quo for the professionals who do this important, complex work will perpetuate today’s fragmented approach to the care and education of young children, resulting in inadequate learning and development, especially among America’s most vulnerable families and communities. The report offers recommendations to build a workforce that is unified by the foundation of the science of child development and early learning and the shared knowledge and competencies that are needed to provide consistent, high-quality support for the development and early learning of children from birth through age 8." (Institute of Medicine)
"This is a defining moment for ECE. Despite the best of intentions, we remain a divided field of practice and lack what it takes to ensure that each and every child with whom we interact as early educators experiences an optimum early learning experience. There is a starting place for the work, though — conversations with intent. These are conversations that engage us in personal and collective reflections that invite thinking together about creating an alternative future for ECE as a field of practice. Catalyzing these conversations is the focus of Professionalizing Early Childhood Education As a Field of Practice: A Guide to the Next Era." (Goffin)
How are we going to think together in conversations with intent and unite as a field of practice, when we are spread across the nation engaged in varied areas of the workforce? I thought about this very question for nearly two years after I met Stacie. Beyond The Pages (BTP) was launched in August, 2015, as a vehicle to promote conversations with intent and inspire a passion for change. BTP is an innovative online book study. This online feature takes you ‘beyond the pages’ and creates group dialogue. What makes it unique? The group dialogue is prompted and informed by content experts who bring their voices to each week's discussion.
I had the opportunity recently to sit down with Dr. Lilian Katz to discuss her thoughts on our profession's future. She said that "we need to come to an agreement on the body of principles...to sit down and agree on principles of practice for early childhood educators ." I told her about BTP and waited for her response. "I'd say the blog book study is worth trying...to develop more insight and interaction between practitioners. You see, when practitioners come together and exchange information, they deepen their insight, understanding, and awareness of complexities in the field." I whole-heartedly agree Dr. Katz!
Together, we can help ECE realize its potential! It is with that in mind that I invite YOU to participate in the next Beyond The Pages blog book study, beginning Feb. 1st, 2016. This study will center around Stacie Goffin's book Professionalizing Early Childhood Education As a Field of Practice: A Guide to the Next Era. Visit the following link to learn more about this fantastic way to get involved. http://goo.gl/m3u5qo It is my genuine hope that this book study feature intrigues individuals, serves as inexpensive professional development, provides access to resources otherwise not attainable, and encourages meaningful conversations. Learn. Love. Lead.
Braa, Dawn M., MAEd., and Stacie G. Goffin, Ed.D. "Beyond The Pages Book Study Frequently Asked Questions." Enhancing Young Minds. Dawn Braa, 15 Dec. 2015. Web. 17 Dec. 2015. <http://enhancingyoungminds.com/2015/12/beyond-the-pages-book-study-goffin-frequently-asked-questions/>.
Dahlin, Melissa, MA. "2015 Roundtable: Leading for Excellence – Summary." CENTER ON ENHANCING EARLY LEARNING OUTCOMES(n.d.): n. pag. 15 Aug. 2015. Web. 2015. <http://ceelo.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/ceelo_roundtable_2015_summary_final_web.pdf>.
"Institute of Medicine." Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation. Packard Foundation, McCormick Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Department of Education, Maternal and Child Health Bureau (HRSA), Administration for Children and Families , HHS, 1 Apr. 2015. Web. 18 Dec. 2015. <http://iom.nationalacademies.org/Reports/2015/Birth-To-Eight.aspx>.