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Archive for the ‘Professional development & preparation’ Category

Photo: Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children

Photo: Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children

 

The Early Childhood Educators Scholarship Program is getting a makeover. The program’s scholarships help early childhood and after-school educators earn college degrees – either an associate or a bachelor’s.

The scholarship launched 10 years ago. It was added to the Massachusetts state budget thanks to the efforts of legislative leaders and advocates, including Strategies for Children. At the time, data showed that only 30 percent of center-based early educators held a BA or higher degree.

The scholarship is greatly appreciated by teachers. As Jennie Antunes, an early educator and scholarship recipient from New Bedford, told us:

“Even though I had been doing this work for so long, there was so much more I wanted to learn to strengthen my teaching. I take great pride in my accomplishments, proving to myself that I could work full time as well as attend school full time.” (more…)

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Source: Representative Alice Peisch’s Twitter page

There’s promising news for early educators in the House’s budget proposal. The developing budget would give early educators a much-needed salary increase.

The Boston Globe reports: “‘We’re at a tipping point,’ said DeLeo, citing the many underpaid and unqualified workers who tend to the state’s youngest students. ‘It’s a workforce which, quite frankly, I believe is in crisis.’”

“There are about 90,000 early childhood teachers in the state, who earn a median annual salary of around $25,000 — just $700 above the federal poverty level for a family of four.”

In addition, House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) “plans to file a bill to expand professional development for early educators to bolster a system he described as ‘in crisis,’” according to the State House News Service.

DeLeo points to a troubling paradox, WWLP reports. While more pre-school teachers are needed in classrooms, “fewer people are pursuing careers in education.” (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

What should President-elect Trump know about early education?

Overhauling the country’s early childhood system will take hard work and a significant investment of funds – but it will be worth it.

That’s the message in a memo released last month by the think tank Brookings. The memo – “Building a cohesive, high-quality early childhood system” — is part of a series called “Memos to the President on the Future of Education Policy.” It was written by Daphna Bassok, Katherine Magnuson, and Christina Weiland.

The next president, the memo says, “must lead the way by (1) ensuring low-income and middle class families are not forced to make decisions between high-quality and affordable care, (2) supporting efforts to transform the early childhood workforce, and (3) building cohesion within a highly fragmented system.”

Among the memo’s recommendations: (more…)

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This is one of a series of blogs featuring first-person accounts from early educators across Massachusetts. This one was written by Lisa Plotkin.

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Lisa Plotkin

Lisa Plotkin

When I graduated high school, I spent the summer as a preschool camp counselor. I came home every afternoon exhausted and took a nap. “Childcare – definitely NOT for me,” I said.

In college, I pursued architecture and then business. My first job out of college was managing an architectural office. I left that job to re-calibrate and found myself surrounded by children again as a substitute then a classroom teacher at the JCC preschool in Washington, DC. Following this role, I moved to my hometown Richmond, Virginia, where my path crossed a year later with a little boy waiting for his sister’s dance class to end as I was waiting for my exercise class to begin. It was 2007.

We’ve all heard about those “light bulb moments,” right? I had one. Something in his conversation with me, how easy it was for us to chat, made it a moment I’d always remember. A joyful readiness hit me: I wanted to pursue a degree in the field of early childhood. So, I moved to Boston and earned my Master of Early Childhood Education at Lesley University. (more…)

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This is one of a series of blogs featuring first-person accounts from early educators across Massachusetts.

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Jennie Fitzkee

Jennie Fitzkee

 

My name is Jennie Fitzkee. I am an Early Childhood Educator teaching the Full Day, multi-age class preschool class at Groton Community School in Groton, Mass. This my 33rd year of teaching preschool. Lucky me!

“Back in the day,” women were encouraged to become a nurse, secretary, or a teacher. Fortunately, I decided to become a teacher. I made a good career choice! I use the word “career” because teaching young children is far more than a job. It shapes the lives of children and educates parents. That is powerful; both a responsibility and a thrilling challenge. (more…)

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Equipped with big dreams, generous hearts, and strategic funding, the Worcester Child Development Head Start program has been building a STEAM curriculum to immerse preschool-age children in science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math. It’s been a dynamic process that shows how important it is to have partnerships, federal investments, and lots of local action.

Inspired by the STEAM work being done by a Head Start program in Lawrence, Mass., staff in Worcester decided to form a STEAM committee and create their own STEAM rooms.

 

millswanmural

 

(more…)

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Why teach math to 3-year-old children?

“Early math is surprisingly important,” Doug Clements, an early learning expert at the University of Denver, explains in a PBS NewsHour report.

“What kids know in their preschool or entering kindergarten year about mathematics predicts their later school success. In mathematics, sure, that makes sense, but it even predicts later reading success, as well as early literacy skills do.”

In essence, why wouldn’t you teach math to 3-year-olds given how high the payoff is.

Clements is one of the creators of Building Blocks, a project — funded by the National Science Foundation — that designs math curricula for young children.

“Our basic approach is finding the mathematics in, and developing mathematics from, children’s activity,” the Building Blocks website explains. “We wish to help children extend and mathematize their everyday activities, from building blocks to art to songs to puzzles…”

(more…)

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