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Career Story: Early Childhood Teacher

Early Childhood Teacher

Job Title: Early Childhood Educator

Education: University of MA, Boston, BA in progress

Previous Experience: I have teaching experience in afterschool programs and as a classroom aide. I also started my current position as a substitute while earning certification.

Job Tasks: I teach in a child care center that provides education and care to children ages three months to five years. We have five classrooms, one for infants, one for young toddlers and another for older toddlers, one for young preschoolers and another for older preschoolers. We are open 50 hours per week and most children attend each day.

As a toddler teacher, I work with two other full time teachers and one part time teacher. There are always two or more teachers present with our students and our shifts overlap in the middle of the day. There are nine students present at a time in each of the toddler classes. Eight are full time positions and one is half time, so a child leaves after lunch and another comes for the afternoon.

We use an emergent curriculum model which means that we plan activities based on the current interests of our children. We adapt and alter our plans as their interests change. We focus on process and age appropriate learning, not product. We take many pictures in order to show parents what is happening in our classrooms and we use portfolios as one of our tools for communication. We work as a team with parents and constant communication is very important.

Our daily curriculum includes sensory play, art exploration, fine motor activities, creative movement and music activities, books, pretend play and gross motor play (outdoors if weather permits). Our focus is on the individual child and providing not only a stimulating, education environment but also a warm and nurturing one. It is important for our children to feel safe and enjoy school before they are able to learn and grow more independent.

We spend at least one hour per day planning or working on the classroom without children.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is falling in love with the kids and then creating an environment that is positive for each of them. It can be a challenge to meet the needs of all ten students but it is a great challenge.

The worst part of the job is not having enough time to accomplish everything we wish. We often have great curriculum ideas but not enough time to carry them out properly. Also, helping toddlers communicate and interact with peers without aggression is a difficult challenge. It is age-appropriate for toddlers to bite, hit and push and it is not natural to expect them to share or have empathy for others. However, it is vital that our classroom is safe for all-this is a difficult balance.

This field in general does not pay well. There are some schools that pay better and have good benefits.

Job Tips:
1. Experience is most helpful though a few child development courses are also important.

2. You will need to have had some experience with young children to be sure you will enjoy the population, this is not a job that anyone can do if they do not LOVE small children.

3. Watch what works for other teachers and incorporate these techniques into your own work. Ask questions, most of this is figured out by doing, learn from what others have already experienced! Be prepared for chaos and constant change.

Additional Thoughts: This is a job for someone who loves the work and is willing to sacrifice a large salary.

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Earn your graduate degree online with Northcentral University.

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Abilene Christian University is a national leader in Christian higher education and a place where students, faculty, staff and alumni make a real difference in the world.

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Concordia University - Portland offers several fully online 14-month Master of Education (M.Ed.) programs and a fully online Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) program.

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