Advancing as a Profession: Putting Professional Identity PD Into Action

By Nicole Walker, Task Force

I’m the Director of Apple Tree Learning Centers, and I joined the Task Force for the Advancing Early Childhood Education as a Profession initiative last year.

I attended our latest professional development, Who We Are and What We Do: Communicating Our Professional Identity, and ever since, my programs are practicing what we’ve learned about claiming our identity as early childhood educators and our work as early childhood education.

✅ Kindly correcting language: It was helpful to get some guidance on what to do when people say “daycare.” We were coached on how to correct with warmth and humor. The first time you do it, it feels a little weird, but now I’ve done it so many times, I have a standard line I use. Best of all, people are really receptive to it.

✅ Publicly posting our identity: We printed the yellow poster and wrote in “We call ourselves ‘school’” and hung them all around. It’s helpful for our community members to see it when they first come in. A lot of our parents have appreciated it, and commented, “Thank you for posting that. My mom still calls it ‘daycare’ and I keep telling her ‘It’s school!’” That was an “aha” moment. Posting what we want to be called supports not only us, but our community.

Person with long brown hair and light skin wearing a scoop neck black shirt with sparkle background

✅ Being consistent: We’ve gone through our handbook and made sure we’re using the same terminology – we use “school” and “early educators” – as well as our teacher contracts and all of our documentation.

The PD Who We Are and What We Do was a good reminder of why defining ourselves is important. And it’s full of action steps.

There are still opportunities to request a session for your program or network. Contact Rachel Hunter to set one up, and see the flyer and toolkit on

📣 Action: Communicating Professional Identity
(you’re doing it right!)

If you get this newsletter, you probably attended (or plan to attend) a PD session on Who We Are and What We Do: Communicating About Our Professional Identity. There are a lot of action ideas in this PD.

One Advancing as a Profession Task Force member asked, “Am I doing enough?” She was posting tiles on social media, and encouraging professional language with family and friends, in addition to reinforcing a professional identity in her program.

The answer is, YES! If you are communicating our professional identity in a way that is comfortable and consistent for you, you are doing enough.

📣 Action: If you have not already attended or scheduled a session of “Who We Are and What We Do,” request one. At minimum, review the toolkit.

📣 Action:Think about what works best for you to communicate our professional identity, and stick to it! (The thought board at the end of the toolkit is a good resource for this)


📣 Action Reminder: Bonus Opportunity for Career Ladder Level Certificates

With generous funding from the CDD, VTAEYC continues to offer a time-limited grace period for recognition bonuses.

Award amounts range from $100 to $1,700. These Grace Period Bonuses are available only through July 2024 or when this special funding pool is exhausted– whichever comes first.

As we’re planning our transition to professional individual licensure, a core goal of Advancing as a Profession is to encourage our workforce to get their credentials into BFIS. These bonuses are a great incentive for early childhood educators to apply for the highest Career Ladder certificate they’re eligible for.

📣 Action: Apply for a Grace Period Bonus or share the opportunity!

Want To Get These Updates in a More Engaging Format?

Did you know that this update goes to only a select group of early childhood educators and supporters?

It goes to only those who are familiar with the Unifying Framework, who share our Audacious Vision, and who are leaders in Vermont’s work to advance as a profession: project ambassadors, members of the Task Force, Core Team, and Design Teams, PD frequent flyers, and the committed educators who signed on to say “We’re In!”

We’re thinking about more personal and interactive ways to share project updates, like a regular Advancing as a Profession Leadership Update zoom hosted by Rachel. Stay tuned for more information, and let us know if you have thoughts.

If you do not get Advancing as a Profession updates and wish to, update your preferences here.


Have You Signed the Pledge?

Before we take the case for creating an ECE profession to state leadership, we want to show as many ECEs as possible support making early childhood education a well-prepared, well-compensated profession.

Haven’t signed? Sign on here. Already signed? Share the flyer!