*Here the storyteller is Kay Greenough, and these are notes written to share with Paula, made on a home visit that she observed as Paula's CDA advisor.
Paula is a teacher in the Juneau Teen Parent Home Visitor Head Start program. We visited Tony. who is 17, and her son Ryan. Ryan is 16 months old. Paula is waiting for me in her car. She isn't sure that Tony is going to be at home today, but she suggests that we wait a few minutes to see if Tony shows up. Paula has arranged with Tony for me to do an observation today. Tony shows up and Paula introduces us.
Paula smiles at Tony, greeting both Tony and Ryan warmly. After taking off her coat, Paula sits on the floor with Ryan, who is immediately interested in the large black bag she has with her. As Paula takes a stacking toy out of the bag for Ryan, Tony says that Ryan has fluid behind his ears and has a cold. Paula hands Ryan a toy, and he sits down in front of her between her legs. She pats him on the back.
"Are you feeling a little sick today?" Paula says to him. He doesn't respond, and Paula asks Tony, "Have you checked about the ear tubes for Ryan? I was wondering if you had a chance to check it since our last visit." She is giving Tony her full attention as she takes the stacking donuts Ryan hands her.
"He's picked up people's names," says Tony. "He says 'Diane' That's his aunt's name."
"So you think he's hearing OK, or do you think he needs to have the tubes put in?" asks Paula.
Tony says she still isn't sure because he is "so little."
"Should I take it off? Would you like to pull the top off?" Paula asks Ryan, smiling It is too hard for Ryan to pull it off by himself "I help?" she asks, and she and Ryan pull the top off together.
Ryan is interested in playing with some stencil puzzles, and Paula gives them to him. She smiles at him as she hands him a puzzle. She looks up and hands Tony a paper. "I want to show you the book orders from Scholastic," she says to Tony. "Blueberries for Sal is on sale, and it's one of my favorites." She offers another handout to Tony. "Would you like to read it to me, and then I'll read the next one?" asks Paula. Tony reads about Burton White's research on the first three years of life, and the stress of raising a toddler. Paula laughs warmly and Tony laughs with her.
Paula produces some books when she observes that Ryan is losing interest in the stencil puzzles. She plays with Ryan as she reads a simple book about a bear.
"Whoa," says Ryan.
"Whoa," says Paula. Ryan holds the book over his head. "Ryan hiding?" asks Paula, inviting Ryan to play hiding.
Tony gets a phone call from her husband, who is out of town. Ryan is interested in the telephone call, but Tony doesn't ask him if he wants to talk to Daddy. She puts down the telephone and picks up Ryan.
"Would you like to make the play dough now?" asks Paula. Paula has already talked with Tony about the plans for the day. Tony agrees, and she carries Ryan out to the kitchen. Paula helps Tony make a space to prepare the dough. She has provided all of the ingredients. Paula holds Ryan on her hip while Tony stirs the dough. Paula talks to both Tony and Ryan as the play dough cooks. She gives mother and child her undivided attention when she is talking and listening to each of them.
"Oh, look what Mama is doing," says Paula, showing Ryan the play dough. Paula helps Tony complete this process. She describes to Tony how Ryan can play with the dough. Paula plays with Ryan again on the floor while the dough cools. She puts away some of her things and Ryan helps her.
Paula is able to maintain attention with each of them. She is empathetic with Tony about Ryan's cold, and she shares some ideas that might help. She asks if Ryan will drink orange juice. "He likes orange juice," says Tony.
Paula has introduced dough, new puzzles, and parent resources on childrearing, along with play. The visit lasts an hour and a half. Paula is supportive and nonjudgmental with Tony, a teenage mother. Paula encourages Tony about the classes she is taking to prepare her for the GED (general educational diploma) high school equivalency exam. Paula is a good listener. She gently, gently follows through by asking questions on issues that came up at the last home visit.
Paula hugs Ryan when we go and tells Tony when she'll be coming again. The goodbye, like the greeting, is very warm.
I wrote this story for Paula, an Alaska Native Head Start home visitor, in my role as her CDA advisor. Juneau, with a population of 28, 000, is the state capital and the largest community in southeast Alaska. Alaska Natives represent about 15% of the population. The other communities in the region, which are much smaller, typically have an ethnically mixed population, but some of them are Native villages. The towns and villages are scattered throughout a large island archipelago. There are no connecting roads, and only the larger communities are accessible by jet plane. Travel to the villages is by float planes and ferries, which visit some of the smaller villages only monthly. Field-based studies and teleconferences are necessarily well developed modes of teaching at the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS), for which I work. The main campus of this small university is located in Juneau, with smaller programs in Sitka and Ketchikan.
For the past 10 years, the university, in partnership with Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian tribes of Alaska Head Start Program, has prepared Head Start staff for the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. Tlingit and Haida administer 11 Head Start programs in the region. Some are primarily Alaska Native, but the culturally diverse programs in the larger communities serve a mix of lowincome families, including Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, Filipino, and Anglo children. The programs are center-based preschool and home visitor with infant/toddler and preschool-age children.
UAS began its collaboration with Tlingit and Haida in 1982. Previously CDA training had been provided in fits and starts by trainers from outside the region, but no Head Start staff became credentialed until UAS got a small vocational education grant to provide on-site, field "based" training for persons interested in earning the CDA credential or in improving their skills in early childhood education. As an independent contractor with the university, I provided this training, which successfully prepared six candidates to receive the first CDA credentials in Southeast Alaska Head Start and child care programs.
UAS recognized the CDA as the first step in the early childhood education career ladder, giving 14 credits upon completion of the credential. CDA credits could be applied to higher certificates and degrees in early childhood education given by the university. Head Start became the university's biggest customer for CDA credit.
In 1989 the partnership became more formal when UAS, in collaboration with Tlingit and Haida and Anchorage-based Rural Alaska Community Action program, was awarded a Department of Human Services (DHS) Commissioner's Discretionary Grant through the national Head Start Bureau to prepare CDA candidates from remote and isolated communities. Under this grant I moved from independent contracting to a salaried position, with an assistant qualified to advise as well.
The CDA is the minimum educational qualification required to meet the new Head Start legislative mandate that there be at least one teacher with a CDA or early childhood education degree in Head Start centers. Participating in CDA training is therefore not a choice for Head Start staff.
The project offered opportunities for training not available through the usual rural course offerings. It paid for CDA credentialing fees. It provided on-site, field-based training and on-site cluster training for CDA candidates and other early childhood providers in communities. It also trained credentialed CDAs to become CDA advisor/trainers in the villages where they live. It provided a newsletter and a monthly teleconference with advisors.
Twenty-seven teachers obtained the credential during the project. The project produced training and self-study materials as well, and the list of CDA advisors in southeast Alaska grew from 3 to 12.
Working in the project, we faced these questions:
One of the CDA candidates said to me once, "I don't talk good." She uttered this statement with frustrated force. She felt that she could not make others understand what she was saying or what she wanted to say. She was referring to a conflict she was having with another staff member; there had been a misunderstanding, and the other person was angry and offended.
This woman did not learn her Native Athabascan as her first language. Instead, she learned to speak a variety of "village English" that isn't recognized by others as adequate to describe or represent her feelings and perceptions, thus is often not listened to.
Doubting one's intellectual capacity is all too common among the poor, rural people, and women; these overlapping populations-being widely seen as less valuable and less worthy-are seldom supported to develop their intellectual potential. Doubts about one's capacities are often accompanied by social isolation and a sense of voicelessness that undercuts one's potential for dialogue and connection with others. (Belenky, Bond, &Weinstock, 1991)
I have a personal interest in rural women's intellectual development, particularly in the development of Alaska Native women in rural communities. For the last 10 years, a major focus of my work as a college teacher and field-based trainer/advisor has been developing dialogues with Alaska Native teachers of young children to help them become autonomous thinkers and decision makers.
My growing-up experience is somewhat similar to Alaska Native women's in that I grew up both geographically and socially isolated on a dry farm in southeastern Idaho. Although I did not experience the assaults of racism, I did experience lowered expectations, being a girl. I wanted to drive tractors and trucks, but I couldn't because girls in my family were not allowed to do those things. As a young woman it was clear to me that I was expected to marry; and while a woman might have a college education, women in this community rarely worked outside the home. The woman's role on the farm was extremely important: a farmer, like an ice hunter or fisherman, depends on the support of a woman in the home. The role is defined by self-sacrifice and caring for others; its tasks follow the demands of seasonal harvests, food gathering, and preserving.
I was also aware of others who see the work of a farmer as unimportant. My parents often talked about this; they expressed anger, feeling slighted by interactions with people who had implied that farmers were not very smart. Both of my parents perceived that farming was undervalued and misunderstood by people who lived in town.
My own intellect began to flower when I moved away from home to go to college and later moved with my husband and two children to Alaska. I made friends with women who, like myself, were young mothers. I became active in volunteer organizations. In the 1970s I helped forma women's consciousness-raising group, which still meets regularly after 20 years. It was in this group that I learned it was possible to share perspectives, to have differences of opinion without losing friends, to feel my feelings, and to think. It was also in this group that I learned that the source of my problems and the solutions to them lay within myself As women we often learn at an early age to distrust our thinking and our feelings. This process of talking and thinking with the support of others has helped me to find and hang onto my own voice.
Nila Rinehart, director of Tlingit-Haida Head Start, observes, "Women of color have to deal with bias on two levels: sexism and racism. This fact alone strikes the inner core of who we are. Some of us Native women become stronger because of it. Others become numbed by it."
Silent Knowers: People who hold this outlook doubt their capacities for learning in most if not all aspects of their lives. Having been raised in isolation with few mediated learning experiences, these women have had a difficult time developing representational thought and skills for participating in a dialogue. Because they experience difficulty learning from words and because they have so little confidence in their own ability to speak, the silent knowers think of themselves as virtually deaf and dumb. (Belenky et al., 1991) When people cannot represent their ideas easily, they are likely to think of words more as weapons than as a means for communicating meanings back and forth. (Belenky et al., 1991)
The most common approach to educating people accustomed to silent knowing is to give them The Word from some external source-the Word of God, the word of authorities, the word of those in power. Those people who believe the words they are given become received knowers.
Received Knowers: That one learns by listening to others is the basic assumption of received knowers. Here learning is equated with receiving, remembering, and returning the words of the others-the 3 r's. (Belenky et al., 1991)
Received knowing is functional in stable societies where elders have the answers to questions about how life is to be lived; it becomes insufficient in a changing society where new sorts of decisions must be made. No Alaska Native community is isolated economically, politically, or culturally, therefore intellectual isolation no longer serves any community well. In the face of change, both subjective knowing-confidence in one's own capacity to think-and procedural knowing, which challenges people to learn through intellectual engagement with other knowers, are essential tools for effective problem solving (Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger, & Tarule, 1986).
InPiaget's terms, received knowers rely on social knowledge rather than constructing knowledge for themselves (see Chapter 1). As teachers they teach social knowledge to children.
Head Start challenges Alaska Natives, both adults and children, to become effectively bicultural. Teachers must be able to draw both on their cultural traditions and on national guidelines for developmentally appropriate early childhood education.
Native Alaskan Head Start teachers are people who are considered leaders in their communities. They are hired because both national Head Start and local grantees place a high priority on hiring people knowledgeable about the local community and its children and families. Often they have been Head Start parents and have experience both with children and with the agency. Although they may not have the skills defined by national standards in early childhood education, they are mature, responsible community members in whom the community has confidence. To treat them as people who do not know is insulting. To challenge them to reflect on their teaching respects their experience and their competence.
This is the challenge we face as CDA advisors to Head Start staff. Providers of training often define their job as showing the trainee what needs to be done. When training is conducted as telling and showing, it is assumed that trainees will receive, remember, and return the words and be able to demonstrate the told behaviors after receiving. One of the first lessons I learned was that telling and showing teachers what to do did not develop autonomy, nor did it foster the capacities for self-observation and self-reflection needed by a teacher in an isolated early childhood program.
In my work as CDA advisor, the strategies I have used to support teachers' self-reflection include observations of their classrooms and home visits, selective intervention with children to model problem solving, dialogue on the observations, and note taking to support the teacher's writing of her CDA portfolio. Our project has also developed self-study materials useful for sustaining the advising process at a distance.
The CDA credentialing program asks candidates to describe what they do, why they do it, and how it shows they are competent teachers of young children. Most of the teachers I work with have difficulty describing this process in their own words, especially in writing. My assistant, Linda Squibb, and I begin the process of developing dialogue with teachers by making informal observations of children and teachers to be used as subject matter for the dialogue.
To build nonauthoritarian relationships with CDA candidates, we begin our visits by focusing our observations on children. We describe children's behavior and annotate our descriptions, naming what we see in terms of the theory we are teaching. I use the CDA functional areas for this purpose, writing in the margin of the observation the competencies that the situation or the behavior indicates are present. In this way I try to make clear why I'm excited about what I've observed and why I think it's important. Here is an example.
Six boys are playing with dinosaurs in the block area. "I want one of the long necks," says Dylan (there are several kinds of dinosaurs, and some of them have long necks).-SOCIAL "Mind your own business," says Gary.-SOCIAL Dylan grabs one of the "long necks" and runs over to the sand table, which has cornmeal in it. All of the cornmeal has been scooped up into a large metal mixing bowl. He buries the "long neck" in the bowl, looking back at Gary and the others. He takes the "long neck" out again. He goes back to the group and picks up a stegosaurus that is lying on the floor by the other boys. He is ignored by the boys. Dylan leaves the long neck with David and takes the stegosaurus. Nobody seems to mind this, and David picks up the "long neck."
When I share an observation with a teacher, I ask her what her role has been in the situation and how she sees it. She adds or changes details in the observation for accuracy. The observation is of children, but in a detailed observation the program and the teacher's role are evident. All of the teachers comment that they are amazed that they do so many of the CDA indicators. They say things like "I didn't realize Program Management is . . . " or "It is really helpful to have you write the CDA functional areas in the observation because I didn't think I was doing all those things."
Most learning experience that received knowers have is with experts (elders, teachers, trainers), rules, standards, and authorities (Belenky et al., 1991). The CDA materials, Head Start Performance Standards, and NAEYC's developmentally appropriate practice guidelines are all national standards for teacher behavior and practice. Other than naming the CDA functional areas, I stay away from trying to connect teachers' behavior with these standards; my goal is for teachers to make their own connections when they are ready.
We move on to observations of teachers, which we write up as narrative descriptions of what the teacher did with the children. Stories that accurately represent for teachers are not glowing accolades, but we do choose to focus on strengths. One teacher shared Linda's story about her with her supervisor as part of her evaluation process.
When I have written a story (like that for Paula, with which this chapter begins), I give it to the candidate before we talk. I ask her to underline the points that are important for her (a technique I learned from Marjorie Fields, University of Alaska Southeast). Underlining seems to help candidates identify the significant words in the story in the process of naming and making meaning for themselves.
In the early days of CDA training, formal observations for the purpose of documenting competence were done on the advisor's first or second visit to the community, as time and money for visits were limited. Candidates saw these observations as evaluations, which did not facilitate trust building. I became acutely aware of how dreaded formal CDA observations were when I saw the discomfort on candidates' faces.
CDA's new observation instrument is also threatening for candidates because the observer often isn't able to see evidence for a particular indicator, so that check mark area is left blank. As Linda said to me, "They think they aren't doing a good job because every blank isn't checked," an understandable reaction by Native people with many experiences of failure in educational systems. Because we have learned that informal observations are more effective in facilitating dialogue, we now leave the formal observation process until the end of the training, when the candidate has more trust in us. Informal observations establish nonauthoritarian relationships with CDA candidates. They are a form of practice in which candidates become familiar with the presence of an observer in the classroom.
Intervention to model problem solving
At times, when I am observing, a teacher involved in activity needs help in changing her behavior to provide for children's needs. Intervention is a risky but potentially useful response. If I have a good sense that the teacher trusts me and that the time is right, I may model for a teacher or suggest alternative behavior by playing with the children. I take this risk only when I believe I have enough trust built with the teacher that I won't be undermining her by my action. Sometimes a moment like this one presents itself.
Kathy was playing with children who were sliding some new plastic dinosaurs down a ramp she had set up on the block shelf. The sliders were having fun, but the rest of the children were running around snatching dinosaurs when they could get them. Other children were aimless, not engaged in constructive play of any kind. Kathy was completely involved in supervising the sliders and fending off the dinosaur stealers.
I was observing this pandemonium. I laid down my notebook, moved to sit on the floor next to the ramp, and asked, "Would anyone like to play blocks and make some corrals for the dinosaurs?" I found myself immediately engaged in facilitating block play with four children who had been watching or stealing.
Kathy looked relieved. "Do you think I should just play with them like this?" she asked. "I am always so worried that I will interfere with their play." We played in the blocks with the children for a long time, and as we did we were able to have little snatches of conversation about what was "interfering" and what was "facilitating."
Later when Kathy and I were alone together, sharing the observation, I asked her how she would distinguish interfering from helping children learn to play. She said she thought that children should "know how to play." I asked her how she used to play. She described all of the outdoor games she played as a child, but then she realized that she was remembering her play as a child older than those she teaches. She remarked that she'd learned how to play from the older children. We had a terrific conversation, and she realized that it was okay for her to play; her biggest problem was that the children really didn't know how to play very well.
Kathy has continued to play and writes that she likes what is happening to her. "I am more relaxed. I don't try to control things so." She commented in her portfolio draft that she "let go" when children were doing a painting activity and "went with the flow."
Dialogue on the observation
Talking about the observations is another important part of the process of finding a voice. I find that it is difficult for the teachers with whom I work to conceptualize their intellectual strengths. They often feel at a loss for words when they are expected to talk about what they know. The observation is concrete evidence of what they do. When we talk about observations, teachers always add comments. I am amazed at how accurately teachers remember what happened. If I miss a comment or action in the observation, teachers always seem to have the missing words or behaviors to fill in the blanks. We both are actively sharing, reflecting, and correcting the account of what happened.
During this discussion I often ask questions to which I don't know the answers - a criterion that helps me avoid loaded questions that are really criticisms. I have been challenged to watch my tone of voice body language, and rapidity of speech as well. It is difficult, I have repeatedly found, for a fast-moving Anglo-American to adopt a slower pace, to take time to listen and reflect back what is said, and to select patterns of speech congruent with those of my partner in the dialogue.
The dialogue on the observation provides many opportunities for the teacher to share her perspective and to hear mine. As I name the teacher's behaviors for her, my objective is that she will become able to name her behavior for herself. I am careful to build self-esteem by focusing on the "growing edge"-that is, on the strengths that I observe in children and in the program. Teachers often ask for more Information after going through an observation. I make suggestions about filmed and written materials and then provide them if the teacher expresses interest.
Writing for the CDA portfolio
When teachers and I discuss the observations, we also talk about the process of writing about observations in order to demonstrate competence in the 13 functional areas. Part of the process is my role as scribe because during the dialogue I write down the ideas the teacher expresses. I give these ideas and comments to the teacher as concrete evidence of how she has represented her ideas in words written down.
An autobiography is also part of the CDA portfolio. The autobiography is a way for the candidate to represent herself and her past, and it is a pattern of how she learns. It is also a pattern of how she has taught herself to be a good teacher. Many CDA candidates need help in naming the pattern, however; their first-draft stories are very brief and reveal little about themselves.
When I read a biography that tells me little, I invite the candidate to talk about it and I ask questions. With permission, I write down the candidate's additional comments and ideas, which I give to her when we finish talking. As with the observations, candidates always have more to say about themselves when they are supported and given permission to talk about their lives. One candidate said that she felt embarrassed talking so much about herself, she had been taught that it wasn't a good idea to "toot your own horn." But when she read the notes I had made, she said, "It showed me that I really have done a lot. I didn't realize I had done so much."
The biographies also give my assistant, Linda, and me ideas for resource materials that will have personal meaning to candidates. We invite the candidates to explore materials that represent the actions, beliefs, and values they have represented in their autobiographies.
During the project we also developed a series of self-study materials. Their design reflected our past experiences in Head Start training, in which we had found that teachers made changes in their teaching and in their personal lives when they were able to get in touch with their own childhood experiences and relate those experiences to their present lives (Jones, 1984, 1986).
The self-study materials ask the candidate to remember and reflect on how she was treated, taught, and talked to as a child in each of the 13 functional areas. She is also asked to observe children. Teachers thus have a way to reflect and then dialogue with us, in writing and when we are on site, about the relationships they see in their behavior with the children they teach and what they would like to change. One teacher wanted me to know that "the self-study materials changed my life." She was making connections for herself through the process of reflecting on how she had been socialized and taught.
Our staff-development strategies run counter to the view that teachers with limited skills need to be shown and told what to do. Instead, we use observation, dialogue, self-reflection, provisioning (sharing resource materials), caring, and supporting as our strategies for providing culturally sensitive training. This process takes longer than telling or showing. The model looks like this:
Alaska Natives are used to being excluded and silenced. The history of Alaska Native education is a history of replacing the Native languages with English and replacing Native ways of learning with non-Native formal schooling. Some Alaska Native women and men are reluctant to speak about what they know until they get to know and trust an outsider and become confident that the outsider will take the time to listen respectfully. Out of many experiences of not being heard, silence becomes, for some persons, the only powerful defense.
Received knowers do not imagine that their own experience and ideas can be a source of knowledge; they are dependent on the standards, directions and authority of others. The ability to listen and to gain meaning from, the world of others is of the utmost importance. It makes possible the entrance into the shared culture of one's community. However, while received knowers possess these abilities and put great faith in language for transmitting knowledge, their understanding of symbols and interpretive powers of mind are quite limited. They are not yet aware of the mind's capacity for interpreting reality. They think of themselves as passive receptacles who learn automatically by hearing and memorizing materials without mental modifications of any sort. They confuse the name with the referent. They have not realized that words and other mental representations can only approximate events, or that a single event can be represented quite differently from varied perspectives. Lacking these understandings, received knowers assume that any problem has only one right answerthat something is either right or wrong. (Belenky et al., 1991)
Some Alaska Native Head Start teachers have learned to distrust the information and stories that outside trainers and consultants have brought to the training situation. As one teacher pointed out, "Every time we go to one of the trainings they tell us something different" (urban teachers have been heard to say the same thing; see Chapter 4). On-site observations revealed that teachers were not implementing the information they had received, particularly if the information was open ended rather than clear about the "right way." I once had a teacher ask me, "Why don't you teach us?" as we concluded a session in which I was asking them what they thought about my shared observations. When I asked what they would like me to do, she said, "I want you to teach us some activities to do with the kids. " Observations also revealed that teachers were asking children closed questions that require right answers, and children were often silent and nonresponsive.
While teachers were often surveyed to identify problems to be addressed in training sessions, they were given little opportunity to wrestle with the problems as a group, to dialogue with each other, and to problem-solve together. Where breakdown of traditional community and family decision-making structures had occurred without being replaced by structures enabling teachers to evolve their own ideas and solutions to problems, teachers tended to keep returning to old, ineffective ways of working with children.
I was convinced that most training isn't useful unless it's designed so that people have to struggle with their own problems. I also believed that not giving teachers choices among in-service opportunities had a lot to do with their not implementing what they were taught in training sessions. Because a degree in early childhood education or a CDA credential is now required at every site by national Head Start guidelines, whether or not to work on the CDA is not, officially, a choice for teachers. I observed, however, that some staff members manage to exercise choice by procrastinating, waiting for someone else-usually the supervising teacher-to complete the credential. I wanted staff to have some authorized choices, as well.
Tlingit and Haida agency administrators were looking for more effective approaches to staff development. They agreed that attendance at group in-service trainings in Juneau should be made a choice and, further, that sessions should be planned as facilitated problem solving rather than as presentations by outside experts. So, well in advance, we sent Head Start staff a detailed agenda of planned activities to help them decide whether or not they wanted to attend. Because only those who wanted to participate came, and because the agenda was built around storytelling by the participants about themselves and the events and problems at their sites, the outcomes included increased morale, team building and joint problem solving, and more effective communications among staff.
As in-service coordinator I acted as facilitator initially; later some community people filled this role. We spent the first half-day on introductions in large and small groups, using play and imagery as well as words. ("Tell us something about yourself. With a partner, do body drawings of each other. Decorate your drawing to show who you are in the lives of children in your program. Tell us what your decorations mean." [The detailed agenda for this three-day in-service is available from the author.] In the role of "floater," I moved among groups to help if they got stuck: I maintained responsibility for the structure and for timekeeping, but plans were flexible and timing was relaxed. We moved into problem solving with an activity that included talking in pairs, writing (as dialogue with self), and talking in the large group, using these starting points:
A variety of problem-solving activities followed, with group brainstorming used to help generate solutions. These inservices have been rated by staff as highly meaningful; one outcome is that many who participated in them are now involved in personal counseling and healing work.
All in-service training could be applied toward CDA credit by credential candidates. Staff who chose not to attend had other training options, including on-site CDA advising and problem solving as well as use of the self-study materials described earlier. Our partnership has continued to explore ways of providing choices in staff development, even within the requirement of a CDA. Through making, implementing, and discussing their choices, we have found, teachers find themselves with increasingly effective voices.
Here are basic principles our partnership uses in its approach to CDA advising:
Showing and telling someone
what to do may be useful for a time, but unless a teacher can think for
herself, her training will break down when new problems arise that she
has never dealt with. Rural, isolated teachers need to be able to figure
things out, decide what they need, and know how to get it. To become an
autonomous thinker, a teacher must have the capacity to observe, reflect,
and provide a rich learning environment for children. To model this process
we observe children and teachers, and we spend time reflecting with teachers
when we share our observations. We provide materials for teachers based
on what they tell us, offering connections to new resources. This process
shows teachers the continuity and value of their experience. We know we
are succeeding when we see teachers doing with children what we are doing
with them; although at a different level, the process is the same. They
are observing children, creating the learning environment and reflecting
with them on what they are doing, in order to develop higher levels of
thinking and the capacity for autonomous problem solving.
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adults: An active learning approach. Washington, DC: NAEYC.
To contact the author, write:
Kathrin Greenough, Early Childhood Education, School of Education and Liberal Arts, University of Alaska Southeast, 11120 Glacier Highway, Juneau, AK 99803.