Our Journey as a Profession

In October and November I attended numerous professional development conferences and workshops. The variety and quality of the workshops, conference sessions and seminars was amazing. The professionals who presented shared their work with care, knowledge and a passion for giving back. Thank you educators.

Each conference featured a community session about the future of early childhood education. During the sessions presenters would share the status of our field, current legislation being considered and the process state and federal governments would proceed through to distribute new funds from bonds, grants and other funding sources.

The presenters shared new opportunities for continuing education and the monetary bonuses available for educators who work to enhance their knowledge and skills. Each session included a question and answer period where educators in the audience could clarify the information presented. The topics that interested educators included a few common themes.

Educators were concerned that funders would only offer monetary compensation to programs willing to make early childhood education more like elementary education with educational outcomes that are measured and reported.

Another concern educators expressed was that all salary enhancements were only offered as bonuses. In the discussion no professional pathway encouraged educators to grow as a profession with salaries rising as a result. The pathway represented the individual when the field requires the raising of all ships to grow as a community.

Educators asked questions about new funding sources that might exclude programs or individuals because several state registries and QRIS programs do not recognize learner-centered pedagogies. These educators and programs are concerned about access to community based professional development registries and the funds that follow compliance. Presenters shared that work is being done to recognize these programs and bring learner centered pedagogies into the fold but acceptance is progressing slowly.

Our field is on a journey to becoming a profession and the road ahead is a bumpy ever-changing one. Early childhood education and the current journey to professionalism requires educators to work together to raise all ships by advocating for a professional pathway and a salary that compensates those willing to take the path. The economics are tricky because parents can only afford a fixed amount.

How can programs charge enough to compensate early childhood educators as professionals, promote developmentally appropriate practices, and convince government registries developmental milestones are occurring no matter the philosophy employed in teaching our children?

What are your challenges in working with professional development systems?

What professional pathways for early childhood educators exist in your state?