I spent four years studying early childhood education as a college undergraduate. I student taught, I wrote papers, I read articles, and I observed young children in educational settings.
The approach that we discussed by name in college was constructivism, and I understood the principles as I learned them though essays and discussions. Yet there was no way to apply this approach in my student teaching classrooms, where constructivism was not practiced. So, I taught the way that the Head Start and Public School teachers whose classrooms I worked in taught.
When I set out to find my first teaching job in my new home, three months out of college, I had a stack of resumes and a portfolio that my professors helped me put together, showcasing lesson plans and photographs of me working with children. I drove my Volvo station wagon around Seattle, pulling over every time I saw "preschool" on a sign. I took the first job that I was offered.
The school was "Reggio-Inspired", and I had never heard of Reggio Emilia at that time. The school was open from 7 am until 6 pm, with children from infancy through five attending, and I was hired as a preschool teacher. Much of my job, however, was daycare. Although the program was "inspired" by this foreign philosophy, it was not quite valued enough as to direct what we as teachers did. I did learn valuable lessons about the Reggio Approach through books I borrowed from the director and conversations I had with my fellow teachers. This job sparked my interest in creative, project based, child centered education.
Four years later, I have changed jobs every year, looking for my niche in my profession. Nothing has proven quite right, and I embark on another teaching and learning journey in two weeks, when I arrive in Brussels for my new job as a Pre-K teacher at an international school. I am inspired by the schools of Reggio Emilia, emergent curriculum, constructivism, multiple intelligences, the project approach, and passionate, knowledgeable early childhood professionals.
The world's view of Early Childhood Education is changing rapidly, and there are many sources of inspiration for educators to draw from. My varied experiences, that I will no doubt mention in future writing, has allowed me to better understand what I am looking for, and I am working myself to make my classroom the ideal environment.
I hope this will be a place for preschool teachers who think outside of the box to meet and share and inspire each other.