by Rachel Hunter
The early childhood education workforce continues to impress me time and time again. In the past I’ve spoken of the honor I feel facilitating conversations regarding VTAEYC’s Advancing as a Profession work in Vermont. On Saturday, September 25th, I was invited to share a project overview and also talk with the attendees at the Vermont Early Childhood Network leader meeting. This was really exciting as we are ready to roll out our fourth session in a series of professional development offerings focused on professionalizing early childhood in Vermont.
During the session I referenced the Audacious Vision from the Unifying Framework for the Early Childhood Education Profession, our project’s timeline, and shared a slideshow focusing on members of the workforce and their words calling for respect and livable wages.
As part of the presentation I asked participants to think about how they could begin implementing the language for Professional Identity. This includes a shared name (Early Childhood Educator) as well as a shared role and responsibilities. In other words – a title and job description.
I was so inspired in my breakout room as I heard members of the workforce talk about how they had already reviewed their policies, handbooks, and forms. I felt even more inspired by the ideas, such as adding “Early Childhood Educator ” under one’s name as a signature to emails. One provider said, “The more the public sees the term, the more they will get comfortable with it.”
Another idea I heard was using network grant funds to purchase marketing materials such as stickers or t-shirts that say “I am an Early Childhood Educator”. This suggestion included wearing the shirts on Fridays or on field trips so the general public would see them. More ideas came in the form of review of existing network forms and membership benefit materials.
At the close of the session we brought the three breakout rooms back together and shared from our brainstorming sessions. I was so energized by the response from the participants and the eagerness to move forward. I let the participants know their ideas would become part of our presentation in the coming months to help other members of the early childhood workforce take the first steps towards implementation.
We are in exciting times — historical times, even — and it is a great time to be part of the early childhood education system.
Rachel Hunter is the outreach coordinator for Advancing as a Profession.