I was fortunate to know my grandparents well into my adult life. Knowing them as an adult gave me a new perspective of my parents as children and even my own childhood history. My maternal grandparents never graduated from high school yet they pushed to ensure that my mother and her siblings completed high […]
I was fortunate to know my grandparents well into my adult life. Knowing them as an adult gave me a new perspective of my parents as children and even my own childhood history. My maternal grandparents never graduated from high school yet they pushed to ensure that my mother and her siblings completed high school. Both my dad and his mother only completed the eleventh grade but my dad went on to get his high school GED. His father’s hard work and dedication earned him a position as lieutenant colonel in the United States Army. I’m proud to say that my brothers and I are college graduates, each of us putting ourselves through school.
What I do know is that they all gave us a sense of purpose, pride and determination. Our father taught us to lead and cut our own path in life. He said following your peers is easy but being unique is what makes you special. My dad wore many hats when I was a child. He had a long military career in the United States Air Force, sold insurance, was a bartender, a security guard and finally retired working as a budget analyst for the United States Army. His greatest teaching tool was he never gave us the answer to any question we asked. Instead he would tell us to go find the answer and come back to him. Even after we got the answer, his response was to steadily question it and then ask “did you consider the gray factor?” My dad was an only child so as children we spent more time with his parents than my maternal grandparents. Each summer visit was filled with going to the museums and learning about different cultures. My love of music, entertaining and reading comes from them. My passion to know my history and pass it down grew from them. My step-grandmother was the director of the East Orange public library for many years and I remember each summer following her around the library gazing at walls and walls filled with history and adventure. My dad’s mother was a seamstress by trade. Most of my clothes wer made by her. She loved the simple things in life, giving back to those less fortunate. She used to throw the most amazing get-togethers and parties. Every detail had to be just right. She always made every guest feel that she planned just for them. My paternal grandfather was a tall stern man. When he spoke there was always a lesson learned about determination. “Keep digging” he would say, “if one way doesn’t work find a new direction and try again”. At 95 he was my last grandparent to depart this earth. One of his proudest moments he said was meeting his only great-grandchild. All of my grandparents were able to meet my son except my paternal grandmother, but I know she smiles upon him everyday.
My mother’s parents were hard working and their family was close knit. Everything revolved around family, being productive and knowing your self-worth. My MawMaw believed in honesty and was very opinionated. She always said she rather the truth hurt and being able to move on than to make a mistake you can’t take back. My mother who never went to college went on to become a social services director in my hometown. She’s now studying to become a minister. Her passion has always been about helping people. My parents divorced when I was twelve. I was use to my mother staying at home and not working. My brothers never had that luxury for she worked. I remember my childhood going from being waited on to helping out and being mini mom to my brothers. We had many challenges yet she never wavered in her faith or her determination to provide for us and ensure we went on to make something of ourselves. Pity had no place in our house. She remained positive and optimistic about everything. This is the most valuable thing I’ve learned from her. No matter the obstacle, no matter how long it takes to overcome there is a silver lining in every situation.
My childhood web represents the most important people in the world to me, my parents, grandparents and brothers.
Maryland Department of Education Early Childhood Development
Maryland’s Department of Education Early Childhood Development Program focuses on young children’s academic development from Pre-K to Grade 2. The framework includes Maryland’s Early Learning Standards, Family Engagement and Ready 4 Kindergarten (R4K) policies. The Maryland Early Learning Standards targets three areas critical to the success: healthy beginnings; domains of development and learning and college and career ready standards. R4K takes the foundation laid in the early learning standards to determine the Kindergarten Ready Assessments (KRA) and the Early Learning Assessments (ELA) geared to ages 36-72 months. Just last year Maryland added a third assessment to R4K identified as Developmental Screening. “To move every student forward, a deeper understanding of what promotes and impedes progress is necessary”, (Maryland State Department of Education, 2015).
Maryland requires early childhood programs to develop lesson and assessments for seven domain areas during the pre-K development years. They include social, physical, language and literacy, mathematics, science, social studies and art. Social development includes emotional, self-regulation and ability to learn. Physical development observes the use and advancement of motor skills as they relate to communication, coordination and movement. The remaining domains tie directly into Common Core standards and Maryland’s own College and Career Ready Standards. Mastery of language and literacy, the ability to read, write and understand language, plays into a child’s ability to apply these skills into learning mathematics, science, about one’s self identity and how that factors in the society and world they engage with; and lastly, the arts builds an understanding of dance, music and theater which represents different cultures. Each of these components, along with the tools and resources identified to instruct flexible lesson plans developed to acquire such knowledge and skillsets, comprise the assessments (KRA and ELA) identified by the state of Maryland.
Maryland educators incorporate the following tools, resources and ideologies as part of their complete assessments. Developmental screening gauges growth of social and physical skills often providing opportunities for intervention resources when applicable. Assessments, both formal and informal, are ongoing processes of gathering information which records the progress of each child. For Maryland, the Early Childhood Comprehensive Assessment System (EC-CAS) is the formal system that links all of the monitoring, screening and measurement requirements utilized for the formative assessment and KRA. The KRA specifically looks at a child’s developments through the 60-66 month period. KRA assessments are based on performance tasks and observations of children in play, group and/or individual instructions for each skillset and domain identified. As children transition closer to kindergarten (ages 3-5) the inclusion of ELA becomes more prominent. Formative assessments, conducted within a child’s natural learning environment over a period of time, determines the child’s strengths and challenges faced as they learn a multitude of skillsets over the combined domains. The goal of Maryland educators is to ensure each child is provided the rights tools and instruction to reach their full potential. To continue providing quality programs, ongoing evaluations of assessments based on teacher development, instruction, and curriculum have been established to assist in the regular assessment of children’s development and academic progress.
These measurements must comply with federal mandated policies, guidelines and regulations. Maryland looks to the US Department of Education, NAEYC and NBPTS for guidance in the development of their guidelines and regulations. The ideology of the national organizations supporting children and their educational development is that every child is afforded the opportunity of academic growth in every state, with common guidelines and practices in unison without having to start over or be left behind. As NAEYC (2003) states education is a shared responsibility that should provide “effective early learning standards and program standards, and a set of core principles and values”, (p 2). Curriculums and their assessments should be reliable, accountable as well as developmentally age appropriate and current to trends and issues facing our society today. In reviewing the guidelines of NAEYC and Maryland’s early childhood programs, Maryland’s policies align closely in using coordinated systems, building a framework in which educators and support staff works closely with families on individualized learning goals and objectives. The state of Maryland recognizes the need for ongoing assessments and developmental screening early to provide the necessary resources that children need to thrive.
Teaching standards vary by each state. The assessment of how children develop and acquire knowledge should standard based on the following criteria’s: assessments should be based on a multitude of data collected from observations, portfolios, formal and information instruction, curriculums and testing. The process should be evidence-based, reliable, equitable, unbiased and accountable. The assessments should encompass all areas of childhood development; meaning assessments should be age appropriate. In accordance to these standards and guidelines reported by NBPTS, Maryland mandates each directive in their early childhood program assessments in the instruction of their preschool students to prepare them for kindergarten and beyond. Review of state and national guidelines support literature in which experts (Pyle & DeLuca, 2013) agree that teachers beliefs and evidence plays a tremendous role in how they approach the collection and deliverance of their assessments. Pyle and DeLuca (2013) assert that “there is a need to provide empirical support for kindergarten teachers’ assessment integration and to explore how teachers’ practices align with their curricular orientations”, (p 373).
Entering this profession with limited teaching experience, I have more questions than thoughts on improvement to assessments. Based on my research and personal experience I do raise these three questions. Do we invest enough resources to professional development of early childhood educators in identifying early warning indicators for children that need individualized education plans (e.g. speech therapy, behavioral issues)? Some experts argue about how much worth we place on prekindergarten and kindergarten assessments as we redefine Common Core standards and testing. The District of Columbia recently voted and changed certifications requiring all preschool educators to have at least a bachelor’s degree. Do you feel other states should follow thereby giving more credibility and accountability to making assessments required for children to start their primary education on sound footing? A recent surveyed by Goldstein, McCoach & HuiHui (2017) warns lack of preservice and professional development can be detrimental to early childhood assessment ratings. A recent finding published by Education Week (2016) reported that more than forty percent of the nation’s public schools used individualized instruction (class assignments) as part of their assessment decision to delay kindergarten entry based on the entry assessments performed at the beginning of the school year. Should administrators and teachers be allowed to also factor in spring assessments, along with a child’s social and behavioral development in determining if a child is kindergarten ready?
C.A.S., (2016). How Kindergarten Entry Assessments Are Used in Public Schools and How They Correlate with Spring Assessments. Education Wek, 36(10), 5.
Electronic Learning Community (ELC) (2011). Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (KRA). John Hopkins University School of Education. Retrieved from https://pd.kready.org/105956
Electronic Learning Community (ELC) (2011). R4K: Maryland’s Early Childhood Comprehensive Assessment System. John Hopkins University School of Education. Retrieved from https://pd.kready.org/105953
Goldstein, J. j;, McCoach, D.B., & HuiHui, Y. (2017). The predictive validity of kindergarten readiness judgments: Lessons from one state. Journal of Educational Research, 110(1), 50-60.
National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). (2003). Early childhood curriculum, assessment, and program evaluation. Retrieved from https://naeyc.org/files/naeyc/file/positions/CAPEexpabd.pdf
National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). (2012). Early childhood generalist standards (3rd ed.). Retrieved from http://boardcertifiedteachers.org/sites/default/files-EC-GEN.pdf
Pyle, A., a., & DeLuca, C. (2013). Assessment in the Kindergarten Classroom: An Empirical Study of Teachers’ Assessment Approaches. Early Childhood Education Journal, 41(5), 373-380.
Supporting Every Learner: Maryland’s Guide to Early Childhood Pedagogy Birth to Age 8. Maryland State Department of Education (2015). Retrieved from http://earlychildhood.marylandpublicschools.org/system/files/filedepot/3/pedagogyguide-learningstandards_042015_1.pdf
Factors that Contribute to Resilience of Early Care and Education Teachers’s
“What is good for teachers is good for children, what is bad for teachers is bad for children”, (Baig-Ali, 2012, p 72). Teaching is an honorable profession. Millions of students are shaped by the instruction and knowledge presented in learning and classroom environments. Despite our best intentions to reach every child and keep qualified teachers, close to one-fourth resign during or at the end of each school year (Poyner, 2016). The reasons are many, stress, lack of support, low compensation, verbal and physical abuse from students, colleagues and parents. Poyner’s doctoral study examines factors that contribute to the resilience of early care and education teachers that remain dedicated to teaching.
In her literature review, Poyner draws on the research of Gomez (2015), Boyer (2012) and Curby et al. (2013) on how caregivers and early education professionals can help develop a sense of attachment that is critical to brain development in children. As research has shown, cortisol produces stress in humans, regardless of their age. A relatively low amount of stress can be managed, but highly stressful situations can cause havoc and create unhealthy physical and mental situations. As parents, caregivers and education professionals, part of our jobs is to teach children how to handle stress at an early age, and build mechanisms for them to rely on as they age. In order to teach children how to manage stress, teachers themselves must also find ways to stay resilience in their stress levels. Stressed out teachers cannot effectively teach students.
The intent of Poyner’ s study “was to convert theory and research findings into intervention strategies that may help promote resilience and mitigate stress and burnout among preschool teachers in a Head Start Program” (2016, p 4) and find strategies that would promote teacher retention. Targeting Head Start program teachers in her study, Poyner discovers that more than 80 percent agreed that teaching is stressful, with more than 50 percent qualifying teaching as highly stressful. In her findings, Poyner identifies four cycles or waves of resilience which are protective, promotive, preventative and how one’s genetics history factors into resilience.
“Some stressors from a typical day include facilitating appropriate individual student conduct, developing effective individualized curriculum and learning activities that meet the learning needs of children, and amplified workloads associated with increased demands for accountability including high stakes testing”, (Csaszar & Buchanan, 2015, p 4). Advocate groups supporting education (NAEYC, Zero to Three, Department of Education) have longed supported that school climates and environments play a major role in how effective teachers instruct and how well students are open to learning in supportive environments. Another factor creating stress stems from the classroom environment becoming “physically toxic” (Ehrenhalt, 2016, p 10). According to Ehrenhalt (2016) close to ten percent of school teachers/officials were either attacked or threaten during the 2011-2012 school year.
What fosters and supports a great learning environment? Having a harmonious space filled with color, creating a peaceful atmosphere helps in promoting a creative classroom for teachers and children to engage. Fostering relationships with students and their families by understanding their cultural and home environment, lends to building healthy relationships and support systems. At the early stages of learning, particularly children from the ages of 3-8, forming a healthy bond between caregiver, family and teachers allow for children to feel secure in learning, builds confidence and helps promote healthy brain development (Poyner, 2016; Hudson & Hudson, 2010; Verissimo et al., 2014).
Mentoring from colleagues and school administrators can assist in building resilience and positive attitudes towards teaching. A recent study of Hong Kong teachers suggest that “encouraging pre-service teachers to join a programme that enhances well-being and stress reduction would be an effective strategy for preventing burnout”, (Hue & Lau, 2015, p 383). Lastly, Poyner implores that “given these implications, it is important for ECE programs to utilize resources to aid in promoting the wellbeing and resilience of teachers”, (2016, p 18). Healthy teachers equate to having creative and positive classrooms, which produces happy and engaged students.
Baig-Ali, U. (2012). A young teacher’s view of the profession. Education Review, 24(1), 70-73.
Csaszar, I. E., & Buchanan, T. (2015). Meditation and Teacher Stress. Dimensions of Early Childhood, 43(1), 4-7.
Ehrenhalt, J. (2016). I thought about quitting today. Education Digest, 81(6), 9-15.
Hudson, P., & Hudson, S. (2010). Mentor Educators’ Understandings of Mentoring Preservice Primary Teachers. International Journal Of Learning, 17(2), 157-169.
Hue, M., & Lau, N. (2015). Promoting well-being and preventing burnout in teacher education: a pilot study of a mindfulness-based programme for pre-service teachers in Hong Kong. Teacher Development, 19(3), 381-401. doi:10.1080/13664530.2015.1049748
Poyner, N. B. (2016). Factors that contribute to resilience of early care and education teachers. ScholarWorks, Walden University.
Verissimo, M., Santos, A. J., Fernandes, C., & Vaughn, B. E. (2014). Associations between Attachment Security and Social Competence in Preschool Children. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly: Journal Of Developmental Psychology, 60(1), 80-99.
Many educators and researchers consider the classroom environment as the third teacher, an additional resource for children to engage critical thinking and enhance their learning experiences. Creating a creative classroom environment can be extremely effective in early childhood education programs. In Cortes (2013) dissertation she discusses how teachers’ design of a classroom environment can be an effective tool in literacy instruction.
Research determined that children can spend more than 10,000 hours in early childcare programs before beginning their primary education. Classroom environments should inspire children to explore and learn in an environment that is comfortable, safe and fun. Using a case study design with participant observations interviews and literature reviews, Cortes selects a university laboratory preschool to conduct her study. The literature review for the study is divided into four sections: child development laboratory schools, cognitive and development design methods and tools, and preschool design knowledge.
Adding to her breadth of knowledge, Cortes selects Cutler et al. (2012) research on laboratory schools utilized as places of inquiry. Laboratory schools provide avenues and environments for researchers in education to collaborate with educators and students using the Reggio approach to education. McBride & Hicks (1999) study on teacher training and research examines the relationship between teachers, researchers, parents and other community officials working in collaboration on child development in early childhood education.
Cortes utilizes another study of McBride with other collaborators as they research new models and approaches to early childhood education and development in the 21st century. Another critical review that Cortes bases her study on is Rinaldi’s (2006) discussion on Reggio Emilia approach to learning in early childhood education.
Reggio Emilia methodologies of documenting, observing and interpretation of children’s responses to classroom activities is considered to be one of the more prominent assessment tools, as well as training tools for teachers, used in early childhood programs. Fostering nurturing environments for children to thrive emotionally, socially and intellectually requires several of the resources and tools that Cortes identifies and evaluates in her dissertation. “By combining many different elements in the classroom there is a sense of “rich normality” that allows a great variety of activities and learning experiences to take place”, (p 15.)
The inclusion of Guy et al. (2012) research on literacy environments supports Cortes argument that classrooms are living environments that add to the learning experiences of children in early childhood education. Cortes states “The design of a classroom that promotes free-play activities by providing literacy props has been found to positively affect the interest that children show in including literacy behaviors while they play”, (p 25).
Cortes, C. (2013). Designing literacy rich classroom environments for young children: A study of teachers’ design processes and tools (Order No. 1546891). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (1460288065). Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/docview/1460288065?accountid=14872
Cutler, K., Bersani, C., Hutchins, P., Browne, M., Lash, M., Kroeger, J., Brokmeier, S., Venhuizer, L., & Black, F. (2012). Laboratory schools as places of inquiry: A collaboration journey for two laboratory schools. [Electronic version]. Early Education and Development & Development, 23(2), 242-258. Retrieved February 5, 2013, from http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/104092 89
Guo, Y., L.M. Justice, J.N. Kaderavek, and A. McGinty. The literacy environment of preschool classrooms: Contributions to children’s emergent literacy growth. [Electronic version]. Journal of Research in Reading. 35.3 (2012): 308-327. Retrieved February 20, 2013, from http:// dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9817.2010.01467.x
McBride, B. A., & Hicks, T. (1999). Teacher training and research: does it make a difference in lab school program quality? [Electronic version]. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 20(1), 19-27. Retrieved February 7, 2012, from http://dx.doi. org/10.1080/0163638990200105.2012.647609
McBride, B. A., Groves, M., Barbour, N., Horm, D., Stremmel, A., Lash, M., Bersani, C., Ratekin. C., Moran, J., Elicker, J., & Touissaint, S. (2012). Child development laboratory schools as generators of knowledge in early education: new models and approaches. [Electronic version]. Early Education & Development,23(2), 153-164. Retrieved October 25, 2012, from http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10409289.2012.651068
Rinaldi, C. (2006). In dialogue with Reggio Emilia. listening, researching and learning. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.
Welcome to my blog. I’ve spent more than half of my adult career working in telecommunications. Before completing my undergraduate degree in Communication Studies, I had an “aha” moment which pointed me towards getting additional knowledge and degrees in Early Childhood Education. My goal is to put this knowledge to use in a second career as an advocate for children and educators. My passion is to work with educators and researchers in bridging the gap in childhood literacy.