As a former Education Specialist for Head Start, Curriculum Coordinator on my most recent job and an annual trainer for the Community College District, I aspire to Teach Teachers of Young Children. This is my professional goal because I see the need in the Early Childhood community for well educated and trained teachers who are responsible for leading, guiding and educating the children they serve. There are plenty child care workers in the field who need the basic core courses before they even start learning Piaget or Vygotsky. I have corrected spelling on lesson plans, word tense on labels in the classroom and how teachers initiate meaningful conversations with children. These teachers love what they are doing but it can be detrimental to the children, concerning to the parents and embarrassing to program when a sign is posted with "Feets are for walking" on the list of classroom rules or "Look at what we done" on an art display!
The Early Childhood workforce is often made up of a diverse group of pre-school teachers, care workers, informal carers and other professionals. Adequate training and work conditions are essential so they can integrate the content and practice of early childhood care and education (Unesco). Many of these teachers don't look at themselves as professionals due to the inequity of the salaries. They must however prepare themselves by getting the education they need and staying up-to-date with current trends.
There is a divide in early childhood services in many countries. Divided systems of services, with differences in administration, access, costs to parents funding, regulation and in the structure and education of the workforce for nursery or child care workers and 'teachers'. Typically, the 'teachers' have higher levels of basic education, better pay and other employment conditions and greater social status Moss, P.). I remember as a classroom teacher for toddlers telling my soon to be sister-in-law that I was a teacher. She was very impressed. she asked me what grade I taught and I told her I taught toddlers in a child care facility. Her whole attitude changed and she said,"Oh, so all you do is watch kids all day"! I had more education then as now, than she did but she discounted my work because it wasn't in, what she called "real school".
A number of countries have moved towards integrating the divided systems. In the 1960s this took place in the Nordic countries and in the late'80s and '90s New Zealand, Spain, Slovenia, England and Scotland integrated their systems (Moss, P.). We can see the United States working more on integration of services and quality by requiring more education and training of child care workers and professional development plans to help in their growth. Education might refer to school, college or university-based courses and qualifications and training to those based on the workplace and learning by doing, including competence-based qualifications, with emphasis on a practical way of transferring knowledge (Moss, P.). Restructuring the workforce around a 'core' profession will increase costs, both for the education of workers and their employment. Once early childhood workers are educated at the same level as school teachers, their is a compelling case for comparable pay and conditions. The question is, who will pay for a properly qualified staff? (Moss,P.)
These are my ideas as related to what I read. In my opinion, it is important that all teachers and administrators learn and spend time in early childhood settings, so that they will understand the importance of that time period in a child's life in relationship to their overall development. When they see the hard work it takes, the low wages paid and the gratification received when milestones are met, then Early Childhood teachers will be more respected for what they do. I would like for policy makers to also spend time in an early childhood classroom for one pay period with all the responsibilities of the classroom (of course there needs to be a qualified worker with them) and receive the pay, so they can experience the difference in the work and the pay. I would like the Early Childhood teachers to experience working in Reggio Emilio to see the similarities/differences in their work with young children. Until that time, when I teach those teachers of young children, my first priority is to let them know they are professionals, they are to be respected and they have a voice in demanding respect for their, no OUR profession.
Moss, P. (2004). The Early Childhood Workforce in 'Developed' Countries: Basic Structures and Education UNESCO Policy Brief on Early Childhood No. 27 October 2004 Retrieved from
UNESCO Quality Retrieved from http://www.unesco.org/new/en/education/themes/strengthening-education-systems/early-childhood/quality