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My Teachers Really Need a CDA, But I'm Beating a Dead Horse!"

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Imagine this... you're a center director with 20 staff members. For almost two years, you've known that the deadline for a percentage of your teachers to have a CDA is imminent. The state licensing rep has been making more frequent calls. It's not that you've been ignoring this. On the contrary. You brought this up right away at a staff meeting. You had a representative from the local community college speak to the group about classes and available scholarship opportunities. When no one was getting on board after a few months, you offered some monetary and other incentives to get the ball rolling. Low and behold! Two of your staff enrolled in classes and things looked promising. But, as time passed, it was apparent that no one else was going to follow suit. Although you hated yourself for the next desperate tactic, at a staff meeting, you threatened termination of those who were not working on a CDA by Christmas. No one wants to nag or threaten to terminate teachers. These are good people. They love young children and are doing a good job and the parents love them. But you can't lose your child care license either. Besides, this tactic isn't a proven winner either. Chances are, that Christmas will pass, without any further teacher initiative. Let's explore some strategies for getting teachers motivated to get on the PD bandwagon. Here are some examples to get started:

1. Provide as much information about the CDA process as you can. Do some research, call the Council, and get answers. Lack of information or misinformation is a big killjoy.

2. Find out what your staff considers the big stumbling blocks to earning a CDA. Consolidate the list into a Top 5. Then, try to knock each one down, one by one. How? Invite scholarship funders in to explain how it can be free or nearly free. Ask the community college  or other training agencies to talk about convenient evening, weekend, accelerated, or online classes. Invite teachers who already have a CDA to have a heart-to-heart with your staff about their experience... what it was like and how it worked for them.

3. Be supportive. When a couple of your teachers are the first to take the leap of faith, encourage them in a big way... ok, go overboard! Reward them, help and mentor them. Make it clear to the rest of the staff that these people deserve to be recognized. It's only human to want to be a part of something good and not be left out. Make this too good to pass up! Research shows that once a reluctant teacher gets into her first class, she's going to find it fun, interesting, and none of those things she thought it would be.

Maybe you're in this situation right now with a group of teachers, who are either dragging their feet, offering excuses or promises, but making no progress towards earning a CDA. Or, perhaps you've been there, but due to an epiphany or some outside help, were able to get the situation turned around. Let's hear your story and your ideas!

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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 7 and Radley, 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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