A Moment with Dr. Moore

July 25, 2023

Partnering for Our Professionals in ECE

How can we empower, engage and encourage our early childhood teachers to improve their classroom practice? By tapping into some basic techniques of adult learning to help them develop as professionals in ECE. We should allow them to self-direct their training by making choices about the pace, place and mode of learning. We should use real-life examples in coursework that teachers can connect to their past experiences in the classroom. We should make it clear how the course content will help them achieve their professional goals. We should engage in frequent check-ins throughout the course of programs to determine whether teachers are finding value along the way. We should make sure that the course content is relevant to the work they’re doing right now. And we should present the content in ways that foster critical thinking and problem solving, so we inspire the teachers to become innovators and leaders.

These are all principles that guide the Child Development Associate® (CDA) Credential™. CDA® programs combine experience with formal coursework, research-based guidance with self-reflection to help early childhood teachers reach their potential. CDA holders, in turn, have the knowledge and know-how to produce the best possible outcomes for young children. And qualified teachers, like those who hold a CDA, play a crucial role in current plans to expand public preschool to every child in cities and states nationwide. In the push to provide quality pre-K to all, we must remember the teachers. So, policy makers and child advocates, along with high school and college administrators, have partnered to give our educators the professional development they need.

In Pennsylvania, for example, the Community College of Beaver County is among several education partners teaming up with the Early Education Professional Development Organization at the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education to help educators grow their skills. The partnership allows Pennsylvania educators who work at least 25 hours a week in a licensed child care setting to advance their careers through professional development and education. Thanks to funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, educators throughout Beaver County can now earn a CDA at no cost. The funding also supports CDA programs at high schools and allows high schoolers to earn 28 credits toward an associate degree in early education while still working toward a high school diploma.

The grant came shortly after Pennsylvania lawmakers increased the state budget by $79 million to allow 2,300 more children to access pre-K in the 2023 to 2024 school year. The budget hike is a step in Governor Tom Wolf’s long-term plan to provide pre-K for all the state’s children and the Beaver County grant plays a key role in the plan’s ultimate success. “Receiving this grant and offering high-quality training programs to early childhood educators is an investment in our community now and in the future,” said Dr. Katie Thomas, Dean of the School of Business, Arts, Sciences and Technology at the Community College of Beaver County. “We are strengthening and building the pipeline of teachers and ensuring that high-quality early learning programs are available to set our children up for success.”

This is also the inspiration that drives Maryland’s ongoing support for the CDA as it pursues its blueprint for the future, a ten-year plan to provide pre-K for every Maryland child. As part of the plan, the Maryland State Department of Education, Maryland Family Network and Council for Professional Recognition have partnered to provide Maryland’s early childhood teachers with financial aid to help them earn or renew a CDA. The funding covers application and other fees, along with books required for the program. And over 13,000 Maryland educators have already taken advantage of the chance to advance their professional growth by earning CDAs.

They live and work in counties across the state, which have now joined to build the highly qualified early childhood workforce that Maryland needs. In Baltimore County, for example, new partnerships and new cohorts are forming in local universities and colleges to deepen the pool of educators who hold a CDA. In Cecil County, the public school system is working with the Cecil School of Technology’s Teacher Academy of Maryland to begin enrolling teachers in CDA® programs as quickly as they can. Washington County Public Schools are partnering with the Teacher Academy of Maryland to give high school CDA students the firsthand experience that makes learning relevant and engaging. Frederick County offers a CDA program in two of its public high schools and is hoping to expand the program to all the county’s 10 public high schools in future years. And the goal of these efforts is to build a pipeline of early childhood teachers who can work in Maryland public schools after earning their CDA.

These efforts will turn the blueprint from a dream to a reality that opens opportunities for Maryland children, along with teachers who can build careers by earning a CDA. CDA holders will also have more opportunities nationwide, thanks to a partnership between the Council and National Workforce Registry Alliance, which reaches more than 1.8 million providers in 44 states. This agreement with the alliance creates a one-stop place for CDA students and credential holders to document and verify their training. And I’m confident this partnership advances our goal to create a CDA assessment system that’s more efficient for all stakeholders of the Council. It also gives us more convenient ways to share details about available CDA support and services, including CDA scholarships and other ongoing training opportunities our early childhood teachers need.

All this will result in a deeper sense of belonging and recognition for our professional educators, the Council’s enduring goal. And I’ll be working to give them even more support at the next Early Educators Leadership Conference, yet another great venue for teachers to develop their skills. While there, I’ll be looking for new ways to lift our educators up by meeting with a group of administrators from the Child Care Development Fund, a state and federal partnership that invests billions each year in building teacher qualifications and competence with young learners. We’ll be coming together as thought partners to explore some of the pain points that prevent people from earning their CDA. My plan is for us to work together on ways to give children the qualified teachers they need by making it simpler for more people to earn their CDA.

If we build the right pathways for teachers, they will come and allow our country to reach the dream of equity in early learning for all young children. So, we need to level the playing field for our teachers by giving them more opportunities to develop as professionals in ECE. When educators advance their skills and succeed in their careers, they become better at giving young children the skills they, too, need to succeed. Learning that empowers, engages and encourages our teachers shows them how to empower, engage and encourage young learners—something that school districts and states, community colleges and the Council have acknowledged by working together on our teachers’ behalf. Our children deserve qualified teachers, so we all need to partner to give our early childhood teachers the professional development they deserve.

Let’s serve our children by serving our teachers. Let’s partner to help them earn the CDA.




Recently Posted:

Blog - Text Search
Blog - Category Search
Blog - Search by Tags
Blog - Publish Date