What is it about a person that makes them good for working with children? Is it their education? Is it their experience? Or is it just a natural understanding of children and a true desire to want to expand on their curiosity?
The best thing would be a combination of all of the above, but I do believe that a person has to start with the right attitude for working with children. Almost anyone can get a job in the early childhood field (that’s not necessarily a good thing) and almost anyone can get a degree in early childhood or take courses in child development. Without the right perspective on how children grow and learn, however, it doesn’t do the person or the children much good.
In visiting classrooms throughout the state, I have seen teachers with degrees in early childhood who may be “book smart” about activities to do with children but lack that natural ability to expand on the child’s own interest. I’m not sure if it’s because they didn’t notice, didn’t care or just didn’t know how. I have also seen many experienced teachers with such high expectations (everyone sitting in a circle going over every letter, number, month, day, etc. in English and Spanish) that the children become bored and frustrated and aren’t learning anything at all. It makes me wonder if they have been to any early childhood training since they first started or if they are just going by what they have always done. If we want children to grow and learn, shouldn’t we try to do the same?
I personally think most teachers want to do a good job and truly care about the children. I’m definitely not saying that education and experience don’t matter, but you really need to start with what a teacher is like on the inside first. Do they appreciate the children just as they are? Are they willing and eager to learn? Do they respect and value the children and their families? Are they open-minded to suggestions and work well as a team?
Give me a person that delights in children, shows personal responsibility and celebrates the diversity in the world and with some education and experience, I’ll show you a great teacher!