We are Teachers
We Are Teachers
Let’s start this blog off strong and to the point. On my Instagram page, I asked the question: “What negative stereotypes do you hear about early childhood development that drive you crazy?” I had a ton of responses, but there was one overwhelming consensus: that early childhood development professionals are more often than not, referred to as “babysitters” who “just play all day.” After personally hearing this almost weekly for six years, I think it’s time that we teachers set something straight:
Teachers for ages 0-5 are teachers. We are not babysitters. Period.
For many years, professionally educated preschool teachers, early childhood caregivers, and infant-toddler teachers have been underestimated in what they bring to society. While ECED teachers may have in the past, been uneducated people with big hearts open to caring for other peoples children in times of need, that is not as much the case today. In most cases, ECED teachers are professionals and qualified teachers and educators that are seeking degrees and permitting within the field with the same amount of love in their hearts. There are widely accessible resources for teachers that allow for us to seek constant professional development as the field grows and information becomes available.
Forty years ago, preschool teachers may have been babysitters. Twenty years ago, some caregivers may have been babysitters and some may have been learning how to be educators. Today, early childhood caregivers are teachers. We are not babysitters.
Years ago, early childhood educators were not required to receive education in the field, and that is where the stereotype comes from. While I personally believe that the states requirements for ECE teachers are still not enough, there are plenty of supplemental materials that provide teachers with all the blueprints to provide quality education to children- Resources such as NAEYC, QRIS, California Competencies, etc... (which I will talk about in later blogs). Each of these ask that teachers have higher education and provide accurate resources for families. Teachers in early education now hold the knowledge of child development growth patterns, curriculum development, activity development, classroom arrangement, leadership skills, social-emotional development understanding, physiological and psychological understanding, and more!
We teachers work with children through play, conversation, open-ended questions, and developing curriculum based on our knowledge of development. We teach about math, science, language, written language, and art. We recognize that none of these can be developed without social-emotional health, and that is something that the field is focusing on now, to provide comprehensive development for the children in our class. We work all day teaching, leading lessons, curing aches, teaching children about emotions and interactions, problem solving, and more… Then we spend our personal time working, on top of the eight hours we are paid for.
On our lunch breaks, we sit on our phones or computers searching for new teaching ideas, researching new theories, and learning so that we can go back into our classroom and present these new ideas. Then we walk back into the classroom with a genuine and giant smile on our face because we are so happy to see the children after our break, and then exhaust ourselves through moving, running, jumping, dancing, spinning, and singing. Then we go home and study for the next day’s lesson plans. The job is physically and mentally exhausting, but we gladly go back every day with smiles because we love our jobs and we love the children.
As an Infant-Toddler teacher (0-24 months), I see that this is the most-viewed group of teachers that are seen as babysitters instead of teachers. People think that all we do is play with babies, and then change their diapers, and put them to nap. Yes we do these things, but while we do these things, we are teaching. We are setting up curriculum for each individual child instead of one single curriculum for an entire class. We sing intentional songs to teach language, rhythm, and syllabic understanding. We use American Sign Language while we speak, and repeat ourselves a thousand times in order to help a child learn the word, sign, and understanding. We teach rational numbers, and we teach about the world. We help the babies with fine and gross motor development by setting up courses in the classroom to teach balance, safety, and spatial reasoning. On top of this, we infant-toddler teachers speak an entire language that many others cannot speak. We speak non-verbal ‘Infantese.” This means that we read facial expressions, micro-cues, and differentiate between different types of cries, gurgles, and sounds in order to interpret their language and teach them the words and skills for these non-verbal cues and sounds. Infant-teachers teach all day at every single moment while the most curious minds at their most critical point of development are watching and learning from us. We are teachers.
If I haven’t made it clear, early childcare teachers are teachers and deserve to be treated as so. How can you help? Reach out to your local government and get involved, because right now, preschool teachers are overlooked and that has become sorely clear during this pandemic. When you advocate for early childhood teachers, you advocate for the future of children and community at the same time.
Thank you Ashley, Kolton, Jordyn, Natalie, and Sher for helping me edit. <3
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