Episode #84: Abbie Lieberman of New America guides the conversation on paying educators a fair wage. It's not an easy solution! Working with young children is highly skilled work - so why do so many people view childcare as babysitting? Abbie Lieberman describes the complexity around the work needed to have early childhood educators earn a fair wage. Public awareness, education, the professionalization of the field are all important and nuanced factors that affect change. Ron and Abbie delve into why our important educators are routinely under-resourced and why we need to honour the profession and demand better.
<p>Resources in this episode:</p>
<p>- Learn more about Abbie Lieberman's <a href="https://www.newamerica.org/our-people/abbie-lieberman/" target="_blank">work here</a></p>
<p>- New York Times Article -<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/09/magazine/why-are-our-most-important-teachers-paid-the-least.html" target="_blank"> Why are our most important teachers paid the least?</a></p>
Listen to Johanna Richardson, Lead Teacher at Christian Life Academy in Bensalem, PA describe life as an early childhood professional. Even Listen to Johanna Richardson, Lead Teacher at Christian Life Academy in Bensalem, PA describe life as an early childhood professional. Even with observations and challenges and stress of the role, Johanna says "early childhood is fun!". Johanna finds ways to appreciate the power of her role and how to have a positive mindset in the daily interactions with children. She teaches us that early childhood education is not for the faint of heart and that being an early childhood professional is so much more than teaching a letter, or playing. There are so different needs and your role is to meet all the unique needs in the classroom. She also describes how social and emotional needs are increasing for young children as a result of the opioid epidemic in America. If you have a child in childcare, if you work in early education, this is a MUST-LISTEN episode.
The Game of Mixed Emotions is a fun, simple card game designed to teach kids how to talk about their feelings. Research shows that this type of early emotional education makes children happier, healthier and more successful, now and for the rest of their lives.Research shows that this type of early emotional education makes children happier, healthier and more successful, now and for the rest of their lives. The game of Mixed Emotions is a fun, simple card game designed to teach kids how to talk about their feelings. We talk with game creator Theresa Claire on how a game like hers can be used to navigate social-emotional conversations with children under five years old.
Colorado is one of many states working to ensure that young children experience an equitable, high-quality continuum of services and supports. Liz Houston, Executive Director at the Early Childhood Council Leadership Alliance (ECCLA) provides a glimpse into how Colorado’s 34 Early Childhood Councils and community organizations work together to ensure families are connected to local resources and services. Councils have a unique role within their local communities to serve as an early childhood hub for partners, child care providers, caregivers, policymakers, and business leaders to coordinate, collaborate, and align resources.
ECCLA’s mission is to improve access to quality services and supports for young children through a statewide network of Early Childhood Council leaders and key stakeholders. As a membership association, ECCLA supports Councils by providing technical assistance and capacity building, shared measurement, advocating for policies affecting early childhood issues, and leveraging statewide partnerships.
Liz is a seasoned nonprofit professional with a career encompassing resource development, advocacy, communication, and management for a variety of organizations including human services, research and policy, a major cultural institution, K-12 and higher education, and private industry.
Find an Early Childhood Council and learn more about ECCLA at www.ecclacolorado.org.
The skill in raising children is balancing optimal parenting and the child's personality - both must be taken into account. For optimal education, we need social and economic support - and too often in American culture we don't prioritize the support we need in early education. How much of a child's personality trait is defined by nature and how much is defined by his or her environment?
Individual childhood traits must be considered in early learning and development - our children don't grow up exactly the same way, why would we expect them to be taught, or learn, in exactly the same way?
Márcia is a Brazilian Psychologist and Certified Coach based in the US with extensive experience living abroad. She uses her parenting experience to discuss Psychology-based research on how to address the challenges of child-rearing. You can find her at https://www.marciafervienza.com
What does childcare look and feel like in New York City? How can center owners support early childhood education in bustling Manhattan? “We are filling the gap for parents looking for early learning opportunities in a very dense, urban city". Daniel Koffler of Explore and Discover started out by questioning why, in Manhattan, there are persistent conversations about pregnancy and new parenthood, and about preschool admissions (as a future predictor of success in K-12), but not dedicated attention on high-quality infant and toddler programs?
Koffler approaches childcare the way CEOs build tech startups; with a nuanced program focus, by identifying gaps in the market, offering professional development and specialized talent recruitment for his team, and by offering unique holistic early education practices, all of which allow his center to fill a gap in Manhattan childcare. Explore and Discover focuses on high-quality early childhood education specifically for children aged zero to three ("starting from the 91st day"). Listen to Koffler describe the importance of his staff and their dedication and enjoyment of their roles. "You have to find purpose in your work and make the environment the most meaningful to you". The team who works with Explore and Discover are passionate about working with children. “You have to really enjoy seeing a child experience the world. Each teacher here shares the excitement of watching children grow and develop”.
Explore and Discover makes strong use of Reggio-Emilia approaches and the RIE program (Resources for Infant Educare). RIE allows the team to approach everyday tactics in a thoughtful and caring approach. Is there a thoughtful way to carry out infant diaper changes that respects the whole personality of an infant? Koffler says yes. "I can't teach someone to have empathy with working with infant and toddlers. That is in your core".
Dr. Bill is an advocate for students of early childhood education. Dr. Bill is very interested in the development of early childhood education studies.
Students in ECE are our future leaders who impact so many channels in early ed; they interact with children in the classroom, connect with parents, confer with their college teachers and professors, interview with center owners and eventually enter the field. Our support and encouragement for early childhood education students are critical to the long-term success of the profession. What are today's student's questions, challenges and struggles as they enter the field? Are there unique opportunities to expand their learning before students join our preschool classrooms? Dr. Bill's enthusiasm is electric and contagious, this week's episode is a real treat.
How can we professionalize and elevate early childhood educators? "The evidence is clear that to improve childhood outcomes for children, especially those in poverty, that we need highly trained staff". Tulsa is making early childhood education a priority in the city and in many cases is supported financially by the municipal government and by non-profit organizations. The cost of providing high-quality childcare is significant. The way to ensure that all children in Tulsa can access high-quality education is through a unique funding partnership with private and public funding (with federal Head Start programs and non-profit foundation grants http://www.gkff.org). What makes early childhood education in Tulsa so special and unique?
Annie Koppel Van Hanken oversees GKFF’s early childhood education and common education initiatives. Before joining the Foundation in 2002, Ms. Van Hanken worked in inner-city Los Angeles at a community-based youth development center. She serves as board president for Tulsa Educare and Tulsa Legacy Charter School. Ms. Van Hanken also serves on the board of Sunbeam Family Services of Oklahoma City and is a gubernatorial appointee on Oklahoma’s Early Childhood Advisory Council. She has a master’s degree in education, with an emphasis on learning disabilities, from the University of Texas at Austin and a dual bachelor’s degree in English and history, with a minor in classics, from Tulane University.
How are professional development and pay equity considered within a larger conversation about early education in Oklahoma? Listen to find out.
Roseanne believes blocks are one of the most important materials that should be included in early childhood classrooms. Rosanne Regan Hansel is the author of "Creative Block Play: A Comprehensive Guide to Learning through Building. It brings guidance and inspiration to help you support and encourage children during exploration with blocks. Her book shows how you can use blocks to teach 21st century skills, create inviting spaces, and extend and inspire learning with unexpected materials."
Blocks are the perfect 3-dimensional material to encourage learning with all five senses. "Blocks provide so many opportunities to teach math, social-emotional, and fine motors skills". Roseanne guides us through some practical examples of how blocks can be used to engage children at their own pace with materials that delight - creative block play!
This week we meet Childcare Director Shanda Fitte, (My Intentional Play) who presents her excellent approach to early childhood education used at her rural center in Idaho. Shanda keeps it real with the Preschool Podcast; What are the outcomes that can result from pursuing state rating systems like ECERS or QRIS, or Steps to Quality? How can ratings systems potentially work against play-based and social-emotional learning?
Shanda challenges center directors to be willing to take a lower star rating in order to meet the needs of your children at the time. She shares her experience of how her center was impacted by prioritizing assessment and rating systems over the needs of the children at her center, and what her priorities are for establishing strong relationships with children today.
Today, Shanda Fitte prioritizes play-based learning in her classrooms, beyond high ranking assessments or star ratings. She asks, what are the opportunities to meet the child's needs where they are in that moment (without assumptions of what's going on at home, for instance). Ultimately, Shanda argues that building strong relationships is the most important role we have as early childhood professionals. Beyond kindergarten readiness, beyond academics and even beyond learning and development observations, we are teaching children to relate and build relationships with others. All other learnings are a bonus.
Episode 75 - Should you tell a child "don't cry"? We are born with empathy, yet by the time we are in elementary school signs of empathy begins to fade. Tedi Ware of Empathy Warriors delves into her personal journey to promote childhood empathy programs. Anyone who enrols in the "school of empathy warrior-hood " takes a step to self-empowerment and radical vulnerability. "Empathy is a huge learning process for everyone involved and it takes tremendous courage".
Tedi challenges us as educators to be brave - to enter an uncomfortable, vulnerable place and embody empathy in order to truly model that behaviour in the classroom. What's the impact of shutting down the emotions of a child who is upset? Listen to find out.
Episode 73 - Why is play-based learning so critical? "One of the interesting things about play, is that you can't fail when you play". Play needs to be truly chosen, self-instructed and self-directed. Liisa Hale, Co-Director of Blue Skies for Children in Oakland, California explores the critical early development that needs to happen at home alongside center care and the history that binds the early education workforce today.
Liisa also describes the "second home" - the child care environment that works alongside the home to create a space where children can be their authentic self for 6-8 hours a day. Liisa brings us along in the journey of how her center first identified the need for high-quality early education curriculum. She reviews the characteristics of today's "school-home hybrid" and asks, do children have the same space to play and explore at home that they do in emergent learning environments (in between lessons and birthday parties and other weekend responsibilities)?
"We can make a utopia for children for up to five years". She provides an engrossing look back at the history of their center and how it supports early development today. Is there a connection between the woman's movement and early education? Listen to find out.
Episode 72 - How can we use approachable language to communicate the importance of early education to parents? Parents don't always have an opportunity to explore the advantages of early learning in the business of working lives. Amanda Morgan explores how approaches in early education can also be applied to parenting. She advocates for creating simple links between teachers and parents and ensuring that parents without a background in early education can still recognize the value of the field.
How can educators embrace educating parents on early learning? Parents can feel pressure to encourage their children to meet milestones (reading, toilet training) earlier and earlier. How can we give children space to learn and support parents in approaching early education with spaciousness? Listen and find out.
Episode 71 - How can we ensure policymakers are informed about child development and brain science? Zero to Three advocates for high-quality childcare, paid family leave, healthy environments and access to early infant mental health programs. We know that 62% of mothers return to the workforce within the first year, and more than 6 million children in the U.S. spend some part of their day in child care. "We are hindering the development of young children by not providing them access to high-quality child care".
Myra Jones-Taylor explores why access to quality care is critical, and what policymakers can do today to support child care advocacy now. In some states, infant care costs more than University! Without childcare assistance for low and moderate families, we are already harming families before their children are three years old. Jones-Taylor tells The Preschool Podcast audience why it's so critical that families and educators get involved in advocacy work, and includes some examples of practical language you can send to policymakers so they hear directly from experts like you.
Resources: Find out more about Zero to Three and get involved here.
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Episode 70 -Scott McLeod provides some tactical case studies on what new, innovative school and education approaches look like. To McLeod, there are 4 big shifts that need to happen:
1) A focus on low-level, procedural driven education to deeper higher level learning.
2) Giving kids more agency of their own work.
3) How do we make schoolwork more authentic and connected to the real-world?
4) How do we use technology in robust ways to make the first 3 shifts happen?
You can find Scott's book on Amazon.
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Episode 69 - This week we speak to popular education blogger Vicki A Davis of the Cool Cat Teacher blog about the nuance of language, our shared understanding of these terms, and how a current trend in early education - social-emotional learning - can be directly connected to STEM. Vicki asks those of us in preschools and K-12 to define how they will implement an SEL program and not just use these popular taglines without deploying it effectively.
Check out Vicki's Cool Cat Teacher Blog
Find out more about HiMama's early childhood educator app
Episode 68 - How can we apply movement practice to cognition and language development? Dr Lynne Kenney builds dynamic research-based programs for students of all ages, with a passion for working with young children.
One of her programs helps children build a culture of kindness in the classroom, through an evidence-backed curriculum. "We feel a duty to bring science into everyday practice". Dr Kenney provides practical tips for research-based practices approach in the classroom, such as sequencing, which is so essential to early childhood development.
Dr. Lynne Kenney's practical tips and activities for preschool teachers can be found here.
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Episode 67 - FamTech “helps us remember that families are at the heart of learning. We have to recognize where today’s families are - more connected than ever but also awash with almost too much information. How can we use new tools to help parents connect together?" Lisa Guernsey, Director of Education Policy at New America, joins the Preschool Podcast to discuss the impact of technology use in family environments.
Find out more about HiMama's Childcare App.
Episode 66: Chanie Wilschanski returns to discuss her work with 'The School Culture Model'. Chanie presents concrete ideas for how to effectively motivate early childhood professionals in team meetings and in the classroom. "Teachers WANT to contribute - give them the opportunity to have a voice". Recognizing culture problems and actively involving your team in pursuing change will prove far more effective than "leadership talk" with no action. Don't just ASK teachers for their opinion, INCLUDE that opinion! Is there a secret to motivating staff? Listen and find out.
Find out more about HiMama's parent communication app here.
Episode 65 Marilyn Ballard, Owner of ECE Solutions joins us this week to talk solutions to challenging behaviour. Ballard discusses the pyramid model for developing strong relationships and working culture in the classroom. If we master our dynamic environments, 80-85% of challenging behaviours can be addressed. What does this mean for Educators? When you develop a strong relationship with a child, you understand their triggers, their stresses, and their family conditions that help you resolve a challenging behavior. Teachers need to consider; "what is it about this child that is bothering me in this moment? What is truly going on here"? As Educators, we often alter our teaching approach to suit the needs of children - but what we're really doing is adapting our pedological style to create an environment that helps a child thrive. It's all about relationships.
Find out more about HiMama here.
Episode 64 Frank Spillers wants you to create a classroom environment where people (children, administrators, educators) can be engaged. "Be WUCA to yourself and the people you work with". Spillers works with different childcare providers to help them identify engagement techniques and helps them to be happy in the work they do. He often asks "Are you passionate about kids?" - if the answer is no, then Spillers says they're doing more damage to the sector than you are helping. When we have engaged people working with children, their impact is far-reaching. "People will stay where they are appreciated and where they feel welcome".
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Episode 63 - This week Ron chats with Jack Wright about scaffolding and discipline without punishment in early education. Jack Wright was previously a Mental Health Consultant who worked with a HeadStart program on the Flathead Reservation in Montana. Jack describes the impact of punishment on children long term and why scaffolding and discipline can be trained without punishment. A relaxed, nonpunitive approach is more effective than a punishing approach for behaviour-changing in children.
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Episode 62: Ron chats with Jarred Geller about his organization Punk Rock Preschool.
Punk Rock Preschool is all about unleashing the incredible potential in your students. It's about exposing your classroom to the magnificent world we live in so your students can find their own interests and set off on their own paths! Punk Rock Preschool is the start of a life-long, never-ending adventure to learn and grow. Jarred has seen incredible results in his classroom and it all stems from believing in your students. "And as teachers, we know we must show them we believe in them, not just tell them. So how do you show your students you believe they can accomplish anything? By challenging them and pushing them and supporting them to accomplish anything! When you do, they will surpass even your most ambitious dreams and expectations."
Find out more about HiMama here.
Episode 61: Ron chats with Chip Donohue, Director, Technology in Early Childhood Center about intentionality and digital media use. Specifically, Donohue explores why while there can be systemic challenges to technology use in education and in our own families, ultimately we can have a positive relationship with our children, devices, and apps.</p>
Find out more about HiMama here.
On episode 60, we interview Ruth Churchill Dower, Director of Earlyarts, an award-winning creative training network for early childhood professionals. We learn about her passion for incorporating creativity both in the classroom and in educational leadership. Our conversation focuses on the impact of the arts in supporting early development, how teachers can approach early learning more creatively and what leadership can do to support meaningful professional development in the sector.