“Young children can teach so much on how to be caring, how to forgive, and how to be honest. Our children are also often a reflection of their environment. I gauge my own behaviors on what I see the children doing in the classroom."
Michelle Loconte, Preschool teacher, NAEYC member since 2014.
Tell us about your work with young children please!
I am a preschool teacher in a Mixed Aged Classroom (3 and 4 year old children) at Mi Escuelita Preschool in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. I have been teaching preschool for 5 years. As classroom teachers, we are architects of the future. We create opportunities for learning in every minute of every day. As a teacher, I am often a peacemaker, a nurturer, and friend. I love working with young children because they are so eager to learn and I often learn so much from my children.
Why did you become an NAEYC member?
Throughout my undergraduate years in college, we consistently used NAEYC literature in our classes. Since then, I have read NAEYC literature, visited the website, and referred to NAEYC's standards within my career as an educator. It was only a matter of time before I became a member. I was able to attend the Annual Conference in Texas as a Lasting Legacy scholar and also the NJAEYC conference. These opportunities to network with people who are passionate about early childhood education has been the best perk to becoming a NAEYC member.
What does your NAEYC membership mean to you? How has it impacted your career and influenced your work with young children?
My NAEYC membership has impacted my work tremendously. The literature has helped me to continue to grow and learn and improve in teaching young children. Attending the conferences and workshops has helped me develop new and creative ways to teach young children and engage families in their learning.
What is your favorite NAEYC member benefit?
What is your dream for the future of early-childhood education?
I hope that we continue to prove ourselves. Early childhood education matters. We are building a foundation of education. We are working everyday with families, children, and communities to establish social-emotional, cognitive, and language skills. We are developing pre-reading and mathematic skills with our children. We are preparing our children for the rest of their lives and I just hope that our supporters continue to see the impact we are making in the world. I also hope that through our work, which is so important, that we can continue to gain more supporters in early childhood education.
What is your favorite part of your job?
As an early childhood educator, I love working with the families of the children. It is so important to build a positive relationship with our children's families. This is the first experience they will have with formal education. Our job as educators of young children is to provide a safe and nurturing learning environment that fosters curiosity and advocate for the children and their families.
Young children are so inspiring. That’s why many of us are early childhood educators. Share one way a child has inspired you:
I am always inspired when I see the children working together to solve a problem or create something new. One day, while playing with three of my young learners in the Blocks Center, I was so impressed with the way they delegated responsibilities to each other and cooperated to build a house. The children took out a picture of a blue print I provided in the center and started to use a variety of blocks to create the house they saw in the blue print. If blocks fell down, it was okay. They worked together to find a new way to put them up. If one child wanted the blocks a certain way, no one argued, they found a way to compromise. It is inspiring to know that I am in the presence of future leaders every day.
Describe a moment when looking at the world through a child’s eyes changed your perception on something:
I think this happens on a daily basis. Young children can teach so much on how to be caring, how to forgive, and how to be honest. Our children are also often a reflection of their environment. I gauge my own behaviors on what I see the children doing in the classroom. When I see children rushing each other to finish things, I realize maybe I am moving them through the day too quickly. When I see children encouraging others or being considerate, I know I am modeling positive social skills. As we continue to learn and grow professionally, we begin to see how important our behaviors impact our young learners. Seeing how my children view me helps me to become a better teacher and better role model every day.