I came out of my self-imposed retirement from blogging to say a few things really quickly. I hope you all have been well.
I’m an educator and I take pride in that. I was having a convo today with a colleague in which we talked about having to defend our profession to others.
I educate Pre-Kindergarten 4 Scholars. I’ve had several people upon finding out that I’m a Pre-K teacher to brush it off as if my job is somehow less important than another teacher’s job. I understand that there is a misconception that working with younger students is somehow easier and I always want to rush to clarify. My first inclination is to make a distinction between my position as a teacher at an actual school with a full blown curriculum, etc. and a teacher at a daycare but I have to stop myself because that’s not the appropriate response either. I don’t need to distinguish what I do because ANYONE who works with children ages 3-5 has a critically important job. Research says that 90% of a child’s critical brain development occurs by the age of 5 (U.S. Department of Education, 2013)*. Ninety percent. Nothing about that says minor.
I am charged with a major responsibility. I must be clear about my mission for my classroom, my educational philosophy, my behavior management philosophy, and my social-emotional philosophy. I’m clear that my interaction with my students will set a precedent for their future expectations of their educational experiences, their ability to advocate for themselves, and their clarity on taking ownership of the educational experiences both inside and outside of the classroom.
This is a calling. You can have all the tools in the world and still be ineffective because the manual that helps all those tools come together is passion – the drive to go above and exhaust all options because when that student leaves your classroom in June, you want the student to be as prepared to tackle the next level as possible. Sure, I want the student to know the alphabet, numbers to 100, shapes, be able to write, phoneme elision, and all those other academically important skills. But I also want the student to understand how to better navigate this big, scary, ugly world, to know how to use words to handle conflict, to have tools to be able to label emotions and practice self-regulation. At this level, we’re reinforcing a whole slew of concepts that, as adults, we take for granted.
Modeling is one of the greatest tools for learning. By consistently doing what you expect of the students, you constantly reinforce concepts and behaviors to the point where the concepts and behaviors can become automatic to the student. In the spirit of such a teaching concept, I wrote this blog. It started as a rant on Facebook but naturally, my mind went to “what can people learn?” So in addition to committing to using my words to advocate for myself and my fellow early childhood educators, I am committing to consistently modeling with my life what it means to always be open to learning and to never belittle someone else’s position to make mine look any more important.
I am becoming more and more convinced that early intervention (or as I see it, prevention) is key. I feel strongly about working in early childhood education because of the immense opportunity to positive development during such a crucial time in their lives. Educating them early. Giving them access to not just physical health but mental health EARLY. I firmly believe that the cost of prevention in the end is lower than the cost of intervention. And if that means that I’m perceived as a glorified babysitter by some, so be it. Everyone has a role
Just be sure to check back with me in June.
“It’s not what they call you; it’s what you answer to.” – W.C. Fields
I am an educator of Pre-K4 Scholars. I am a partner with them in their dreams and in their education. Call it what you want, but my work answers to the aforementioned statement.