The Early Childhood Profession We All Want:
What Will It Take to Get Us There?
An estimated one million teachers and caregivers are directly responsible for children ages birth through 5 years in school- and center-based programs. Add to those family child care providers, home visitors, coaches, out-of-school-time staff, and other early childhood specialists, and the number exceeds three million. These are individuals who enter the early childhood field via a variety of routes. Some have a CDA Credential or an associate or bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a related field. And many enter the profession without the benefit of an appropriate professional preparation program. In addition, the ongoing professional development needed to maintain currency in our ever-changing field ranges from inadequate to exceptional.
With such variation in the education of early childhood professionals, how is it possible to deliver on the promise of early childhood education across the country? Change is needed in the preparation and ongoing learning opportunities for entry- through master-level teaching staff, program administrators, and others—to ensure that all who work with and on behalf of young children and their families are highly qualified professionals.
Another aspect of ensuring we get to the profession we want is through attracting and retaining qualified early childhood professionals. We know that highly effective teaching is the key to positive child outcomes. For teachers to be highly effective, in addition to high-quality professional development, they need support within their programs. This support includes fair and equitable compensation, work environments that promote communities of learners, and reflective supervision that builds on each staff member’s strengths.
The 2015 Institute theme focuses on the early childhood profession that we all want, with the goal of identifying the routes to get us there. The Institute’s plenary and one- and two-hour sessions will offer opportunities to analyze the qualifications and competencies of early childhood professionals; systems for ensuring that teaching staff, program administrators, and others are adequately prepared for the positions they will hold in the field; and strategies for providing high-quality ongoing professional development and support.
NAEYC’s Institute for Early Childhood Professional Development is designed for seasoned and emergent leaders in the field of early childhood education. Attendees include program administrators, teacher educators, trainers, coaches, agency officials, advocates, master teachers, and others whose work focuses on quality improvement in programs for young children and their families. The primary goal of the Institute is to deepen participants’ understanding of the expanding early childhood knowledge base; provide a forum for addressing significant, controversial issues affecting young children’s education and development; and help attendees develop skills that improve professional development and practice.