After reading the Guest Commentary about Early Childhood Education and the long-term effects that dropouts have on the economy, it made me think about a conversation I had with another teacher about the importance of educating young students.
Let me start from the beginning. I fear that teachers in the Early Childhood system do not take teaching young children seriously. They are always complaining about being viewed as babysitters, yet they allow themselves to be treated as such. Teachers must take 12 ECE units to be considered a teacher, meaning they can be in a classroom by themselves without assistance. Many of these teachers do not pursue further education. They work for years without ever taking another college class. They become burnt out because they can no longer handle the next generation of students that enter their classroom. Students change from year to year; from my experience, they become wiser, more mature, and sometimes more challenging. To handle these ever-changing personalities, teachers must equip themselves with the knowledge needed to give the students what they need. This might be academics, patience, self-esteem, or a safe, nurturing environment.
Some of these students never make it to college because they were not given the foundation they deserved; this is the worst scenario. Instead, they spend time on unimportant issues that take place in Early Childhood Centers, leaving students unfulfilled. These students move on into the Elementary School System unprepared. Do what you do because you love it, not because it is a way to make money, because young students depend on your expertise to succeed. When you fail them, it can cost them an outstanding early childhood experience and their education and future.
I don’t think teachers understand the severity of being an Early Childhood Educator and its impact on young students.