“Becoming an Effective Educator.”
By Lakimberly Coleman
As the Director of a childcare center for the past four years, I have seen a lot of teachers come and go. This is not to say that most people do not like early childhood education, however not everyone who enters this field has valid expectations. Most applicants think that “babysitting” children is an easy way to earn money without understanding the education role. They have no idea how much the role of teaching small children encompasses. The very first thing most people say when asked if they have experience in the field of early childhood education is, “I have children, I used to babysit, or I love babies”. They have this assumption that a childcare center’s day to day operation is similar to being a mom or babysitting. Things such as lesson plans, curriculums, building social and emotional skills, and parent involvement are foreign to most people entering early childhood education. Most applicants do not understand how important the role of an early childhood educator is to a child. We as early childhood educators set the foundation for young children’s education that follows them to grade school all the way through grad school. The field of Early Childhood Education needs more teachers who are effective and enjoy the rewards that far outweigh any monetary value.
The following are a few helpful steps to Becoming an Effective Early Childhood Educator:
1.Research the field of early childhood education before applying to a childcare center.
Things you need to know include:
a. Educational Requirements needed to become employed.
b. Average salary of an early childhood educator.
c. Background history, physical, and health requirements required to work with children.
d. What does this occupation entail? (Shadowing an experienced early childhood education provider and volunteering is highly recommended).
2. Once you have secured a job in Early Childhood Education, education is key. The first step would be to complete the mandatory 40 hour course and literacy certificate, this is often available online with testing sites available or live classes. Most states have childcare apprenticeship programs or free scholarship opportunities that provide a CDA as well as Associate degrees in Early Childhood Education once you have fulfilled the basic 40 hour certification. The state of Florida requires at least 10 hours of additional education yearly, this keeps everyone up to date on new advancements in ECE.
3. Find a mentor. T
here are always educators who excel in what they do, so place yourself around these individuals who have experience and success as educators. Most educators love mentoring new educators. Remember to maintain a positive receptive attitude and ask questions.
4. Be prepared. Lesson plans are an essential tool to ensure that all domains of learning are included throughout the day. If you are unfamiliar with lessons plans, there are classes available. A lesson plan should be outlined in a way that if you are out sick, another teacher can fill in for you and have a good idea of what will take place throughout the day just by glancing at the lesson plan.
5. Involve parents. Parents love when they are asked to be involved with their children’s learning. Make sure parents have a copy of the lesson plan. Encourage parents to read to their children daily and educate them on how reading increases vocabulary, math, and social skills. Often times parents are eager to bring in things that will help with the curriculum, such as a stethoscope for an “occupation” theme or family photos for “cultural” themes. Discussing the child’s day to day activities with parents makes everyone feel comfortable and increases the child’s self esteem.
6. Have Fun. Remember that learning should be fun. Children learn through play, plan activities that allow children to move around and get involved. Children learn by interacting and getting their hands dirty. What better way to learn about plants than planting a seed and watching it grow. The days of sitting in a chair and coloring dittos are gone.
7. Continuously set goals. Always get with the Director and set goals for improvement. There are always new things to learn or skills to be mastered. If you have mastered one age group and would like to move on to another age group, setup a transition with the Director. Maybe you are the assistant teacher; discuss the requirements of becoming a Lead Teacher and work toward this goal.
I hope that you will find these tools beneficial to getting into the field of Early Childhood Education and flourishing. I am sure that once you put forth the effort, there will be endless possibilities for your career. Remember how important and lasting your effect will be on each child you serve and always give your all.
About the Author
I have been the Director of a childcare center for the past four years. I decided to go into early childhood education to ensure that all children get the quality education they deserve.