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Who's Ready to Make Paper Plate Flowers?

Posted by on in Early Childhood
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A teacher needs to be many things, and one of them is a team player. There is always something to learn and many times there's a better way of doing things. We need to be open to suggestions. We don't always have to jump on the bandwagon, but at least take a helping hand or suggestion under consideration... especially if it is from someone more experienced or who has had more training than yourself.

grandma at lunch

It should be remembered, however, that sometimes we have "seasoned" teachers in a program who are using outdated and even harmful or inappropriate techniques (just because it's how they've "always done things."). I think we all know these people. They have a file of activities, some for every season... and a child this Spring will experience the same activities another child did eight years ago in her room. Her practice is predictable and out of the box.

How boring, you might say. But for this teacher, it is safe and familiar. She even has her original, cracked and faded sample to show them, so they get the idea and everyone’s product can look like hers. Yes, she’s in dire need of fresh ideas and new approaches. Oh, but process activities are messy compared to what she does and why make changes that mean more work?

Another seasoned teacher may keep the children in one, large group and herd them around from one activity to another. She knows other teachers use centers, where small groups of children choose activities and she realizes what she is doing is exhausting, even on a good day. She’s fearful, however, of losing control. Letting her group loose to choose for themselves just seems out of the question. Even though we see the problem, we have to respect her feelings and understand what's driving it.

teachers having discussion

Changing these kinds of mindsets will not be easy and, of course, some may not be changed at all. But to have any chance at all, we need to use a gentle approach. Find things she does well and work from there. Offer suggestions, encourage, be helpful, share ideas, and model. If she sees how other methods actually work, she won’t fear them. And, this will open the door to change.

Lori inclusion award 2015 web

Teaching is just one profession that requires a commitment to life-long learning. Doing what's best for children should be a top priority, even if it means humbling oneself and admitting we need help or information, or getting the training we need to do things right.

girl and chicken


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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