Pursing an Advanced Degree
I made the choice to pursue and advanced degree later than most. I did not decide completely and set my mind to it until I was in my mid 20’s. by then I had received my Bachelors, and the joy and sense of empowerment I got after receiving my diploma, gave me the courage I needed to continue my education. I finally realized a Doctoral degree is something I could actually achieve rather than dream. I stopped doubting myself. Within a month of finish my Bachelors, I was enrolled in my master’s program.
I was not a stellar student through Jr. High or even High school. I was confident that I was smart and knowledgeable, but the topics being taught did not speak to me. I needed to find my passion, to find the topic that spoke to me. I did not find that until after high school. I found who I was supposed to be or rather my profession found me after the birth of my first child. The thought of leaving him in someone else’s care while I worked was heart wrenching to me, so I decided to stay home with him and work. I opened a home daycare by the time he was six months old. The birth of my second child is when I realized I wanted more for myself, I wanted to educate myself further in the development of children, I wanted to do that through college courses rather than on the job experience and reading research and books on my own. I wanted to show my children that continued education is important.
By my third child I had closed the daycare and opened a preschool program outside of my home. Then with two degrees under my belt and a new business that brought to light so many more debates, issues and controversies in Early Childhood Education, I began dabbling more into advocacy.
My work in advocating for Early Childhood Education lead me to seeking the advanced degree. Along with my years of on the job experience I want that college degree to say to people, “she knows what she is talking about, you need to hear her out.” This advance degree also sets me apart from other Preschool programs in my community. It shows new families looking for preschools that I have gone above and beyond, that I am highly qualified to teach their child.
This advanced degree also opens more doors for me professionally. As one day, I would like to work in higher education. I would like to share my knowledge and experiences with others entering the field of Early Childhood Education.
Three issues of interest to me in Education
Cognitive/Academic Vs. Whole Child Approach
The Cognitive/Academic emphasis vs. the Whole Child Approach speaks to me in hat everyday as I teach my preschoolers and create my lesson plan, I know that the approach I take with my students is not how it will be for them when they enter into the K-12 public school system. A system focused more on Cognitive and Academic growth rather than a whole child approach, a place focused on and centered around common core methods. I use assessments on my students, and observe them, I believe in doing so because it helps me to better scaffold their learning. I must know what they know in order to continue to plan for them. My assessments are built into our day and from the casual observer would just look like a conversation between teacher and student. My students have no Idea I am assessing them; they believe we are just playing a game together. There is no pressure to preform, no pressure to meet goals they are not ready for, and goal that are not developmentally appropriate. I always have to keep in mind that every child will get they’re in their own time, and in their own way. Pushing them will not help, it is what my personal downfall was in school. They wanted me to hurry up and learn so we could move on to the next skill or topic. I was always moving at that common core pace and not my own. I eventually got left in the dust.” The goal of preschool education is greater school readiness.” (Zigler, 2015) I take the side of the whole child approach in my preschool program, and I believe my students are happier, healthier (mentally and physically), and more prepared to enter elementary school.
Ensuring quality and accountability in preschool programs
Currently every state has their own set guidelines for early childhood and preschool programs. There are no universal standards. Standards are set by the states themselves. So, what a preschool education looks like varies from state to state. The current standards set for the state of Colorado, far exceed the level of standards set by the state of Wyoming. How do we bring all states up to par? How do we make sure those who are teaching in preschools are properly trained to do so, and that they continue to receive proper professional development?
As advocates work to bring the importance of Early childhood education to light for those who don’t understand its impact, we have to consider how do we get policy makers and parents alike to see the effects of a quality Early childhood education? We need more outside the profession to see its impact, so that they continue to place value in it.
How do we ensure universal quality throughout the united states? What needs to be put in place to safeguard against programs that are not developmentally appropriate? There is a lack of accountability nation wide for programs teaching our youngest children. We need to change that.
Public Schools only Vs. other sites
The world of education is a hot topic, the education system is complex and differs greatly depending on where you live. With more states now offering preschool programming in their public schools, we have to ask the question, is this the best place for our preschoolers? Are they better in a private setting? This topic intertwines with the topic of ensuring quality and accountability and raises some of the same questions.
Quality, curriculum, teacher training, etc. It can be said that often times there is less bureaucracy in a private setting so there is more instructions time for students. That in private settings more involvement in required of the parents, which in turn shows students that this is important to their parents, that their education matters to them.” Decades of research has now indicated that the more involved parents are in their children’s schooling, the better the children’s educational performance.” (Zigler, 2015) It gives more bonding time for parents and students. Public is often defined by the fact that it is free, so it is a choice for parents with no other choice, but it doesn’t always mean quality. There are so many pro’s and cons to both choices. How does a parent decide what is best for their child? How do we provide the best care and education for children that we can, and where is the best place to do it, public or private? It is a hot button debate for me, one I am close to as a private school owner, that believes in public education for all ECE students.
Two goals I hope to accomplish by obtaining my degree
I would like to expand my preschool program to be able to serve more young children. I would like the new program to be able operate, while providing quality education to all socioeconomic backgrounds. I would like to take my private program and what I have developed there to a larger demographic. My state currently has no large stake or rush to provide the quality care our youngest children deserve so I would like to provide it to the best of my ability, to the largest number of students I can, until my state catches up and realizes its importance.
I would also like to take a larger stand in advocating for Early childhood education in my state. I have always been an advocate, but I do not feel I am heard. I feel I am brushed off because they see me as “just a preschool teacher”. For those who do not see the value in Early Education, they in turn do not see the value in me or my profession. I feel a Doctoral degree gives me that leg up, that maybe more people will listen, and hear out my concerns. I hope to bring the state of Wyoming up to par and aligned with our bordering states and even nationally when it comes to the education of our youngest children.
I believe that by delving in and pursuing the above listed topics and can bring positive change to my profession. Researching these topics makes me a better advocate, and a better teacher. Advocating is the first step in change. I also believe the research on these topics makes me a better teacher. I am better able to support my students and their families. By, concentrating my time on researching the best way to move forward in providing exceptional and quality programming that fits all, I am providing for not only myself, but also my community. Change begins with one person choosing to do so.
References Zigler, E. P. (2015). The Pre-k Debates: Current Controversies & Issues. Baltimore: Paul H Brookes Publishing.
Abby Lazarus Ms.Ed.
Current Doctoral Student. Masters in Early Childhood Studies. Bachelors in Child Development. !3 years professional experience in Early Childhood.