This year marks my 3rd year as a Licensed Family Childcare Provider, and my 4th year teaching in Early Childhood. My path into the field of ECE was not so straight forward. I did not “know” that I wanted to work with kids…I did not “know” that I wanted to be a teacher. Many teachers in the ECE field know from the onset, and therefore take a direct path: volunteer, perhaps work in ECE, go to school & get degrees, then find a community of ECE professionals & a center they enjoy.
Because I didn’t know what I wanted as a career, mine was the “road less traveled.” I understood one thing only: I wanted to help people. So armed with this knowledge my path took me into college for bachelors of psychology (human development) & art. With degree in hand you can follow my twisty hike thru, art therapy, supporting children & adult individuals with disabilities, & gerontology research. Yes, I jumped around a lot…not from job to job so to speak, as my shortest term of employment was 3 years. But from focus to focus…why??? I think because I hadn’t found my “niche” in life yet. In my case, my “niche” found me: in the form of a 9lb, (yes 9lbs) bald as a cue ball, baby girl.
From the moment my daughter was born my life changed. I know every mom says and believes those words, and for every women who spoke them, its true. But my daughter’s birth did not only change me from “Woman” to “Mother”; her birth guided me from “helping others” to “teaching others”. As I watched my daughter grow I became enamoured by every stage of her development. I simply could not read enough books on infant & toddler growth. I anxiously awaited every new stage armed with all sorts of fun activities to try…Before long I found myself engrossed in early childhood development: absorbing like a sponge, and loving every moment.
What was I to do with this new-found passion? Try a different career path: ECE. Thus birthed my first year teaching: as a lead teacher in a 3 yr old preschool classroom. I can only imagine what my boss who hired me was thinking:…..I had absolutely no experience at all, no formal education other than the basic course requirement done as a self-study. Truly, what a great risk she took in believing in me. And yet, I am so thankful she did.
Today, 4 years later, I still feel like a “newbie”. I think a part of me always will. If I were to pinpoint why I feel like a newbie, I would say it is because I did not have a formal education in the ECE field, so I am constantly trying to provide myself one. I “educate” myself through new formal publications, support groups, ECE affiliations, books, blogs, colleagues. I am always excited when I learn something new like the “project approach” or the first time I read about Reggio Emilia, or when I read my first design book and was envisioning the perfect preschool environment layout. Anything new that I can incorporate in my classroom I try with a passion reminiscent of a childs’ first experience with a new task.
Reminiscent of my winding, twisting career road, my “education” in ECE continues. I will continue to have my exciting “firsts” moments, and try [and sometimes fail] at new approaches. I will keep moving forward, and backwards, and on one tangent, then another. This is how I experience my life. This is how I learn. It’s how I love, and live. And hopefully, I will grow from “newbie” to a “master” of the ECE field… but not to “masterful”, as I don’t ever want to give up the honeymoon phase of developing as a professional.
The purpose of this back story post is sort of like a “disclaimer”…for some of you, the resources I offer may be old hat. For others, this may be your first time experience the information and ideas. Ultimately, it never hurts to use a fresh pair of eyes in your teaching approach. I try to do that on a regular basis in my room, and so it will naturally be reflected in my blogging style. Perhaps I am naive in thinking that a lack of formal education changes the way a teacher approaches their chosen profession, but in my gut I do believe this: it can create a more explorative trial & error technique. So who knows…you may come across some “road less traveled” ideas to take home with you. After all, we ECE professionals love those “make & takes!”