Council Letter

August 25, 2021

Professional Development is Essential

Dear Colleagues,

Quality teaching is a key factor in helping young children learn. But quality doesn’t happen by chance. It depends on early childhood teachers pursuing their professional growth, whether through conferences, courses or collaboration with colleagues. Like members of other professions—doctors, lawyers, accountants and more—early childhood teachers need regular training to ramp up their performance and stay on the cutting edge of their field.

Professional development for early childhood teachers should focus on teacher-child interaction, evidence-based curriculum, parent engagement and formative assessment. These four areas are all covered in the Child Development Associate® (CDA) credential. And that makes the CDA® a mark of competence, said Council CEO Dr. Calvin E. Moore, Jr. in a recent Q&A: “The CDA gives employers the confidence that they’re hiring someone with qualifications to do the job.”

There’s high demand for educators who’ve earned a CDA, so states nationwide now offer support for folks who want the credential. If you’re one of them, check out opportunities for funding on our website. And if you’re in Maryland, you may be able to take advantage of a new grant. The Council and Maryland State Department of Education are partnering to provide the state’s educators with financial support to help cover the costs of earning or renewing the credential. And the grant has made a difference for two educators we’re profiling this month.

Nicole Bastfield, a Baltimore, MD, provider, had thought about getting a CDA for some time. “But I had pushed it aside,” she recalls, “until I received word of the state’s new CDA program.” Now that she’s earned her CDA, she tells other providers to earn the credential, too. “The CDA is an industry standard,” Nicole says. “I wanted to have it for myself because it’s a way to show parents that I’m a quality provider who can offer the best care for their youngsters.”

An added plus of earning a CDA is “the chance to build a peer network,” says Crystal Barksdale, a Randallstown, MD, provider who renewed her credential through the grant. Crystal has been a fan of the CDA since earning it in 2012 and serves on an advisory group that urged the state to help people earn their CDA. Still, she was so busy with her business that she put off renewing it until hearing about the grant. “I put a lot of work into my CDA training,” she says, “so I wanted to keep the credential. The grant gave me a chance to do so without spending a lot of money.”

And you won’t have to spend much this fall to take advantage of the Council’s Virtual Experience: Building Strong Futures in the early childhood field. It will stream live sessions from our Early Childhood Educators Leadership Conference—now sold out—along with added presentations from ECE leaders and opportunities to network with your colleagues.

You should seize on chances like this since not all teachers have them, as we show in our white paper Voices from the Field. Educators in the developing world have few chances for training and long to develop their skills since they know what the Council has always stressed. Whether you’re in Baltimore or Zimbabwe, when educators learn more, children also learn more.

Looking forward to learning together,

The Council for Professional Recognition

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