Musings About the Upcoming School Year

Although I have been focusing this blog on “all things math and young children” for the past 2 years, this time of the summer reminds me of the years when I was getting ready to go back to school.  I have such vivid memories of the late summer when I was growing up.  There were feelings of intense excitement; Who would sit next to me? What would my new teacher be like? But there were also feelings of dread that I suppose were more closely associated with summer’s end, than school’s beginning.

Nowadays, this part of the summer is filled with the new semester’s preparations; writing and rewriting syllabi, faculty development opportunities, meeting and greeting new and former students, and lots and lots of reading about early childhood education. I spent Friday, meeting with early childhood faculty from around the Chicagoland area and discussing the future of teacher preparation in Illinois.  Often, these meetings get me down because they get mired in the negative, focusing on what we can’t do rather than what we can.

Yesterday felt different.

Rather than spending valuable time bellyaching about our mutual frustrations and angst about the world of early care and education in Illinois, we shared ideas about new pathways to education completion,  partnerships across 2 and 4-year colleges and universities, and exciting developments coming from Springfield designed to support early childhood professionals.  It all felt very exciting and promising.

I love working in teacher preparation.  I love the energy my students bring to my classroom and the passion they have in their lives.  I get excited for the first day of school because it means the start of something new and the hope of change for the better. My students remind me what hard work is and what overcoming obstacles looks like.  You have to be strong to work in early childhood education.  This work is isn’t for sissies.  It takes years of dedicated learning and many more years of practice to become a professional. It takes drive and passion, flexibility and endurance.  It requires a belief that things in our profession will change for the better.

For all of you amazing early childhood teachers and teachers-in-training out there, take a moment this week to imagine the possibilities that this new school year brings. Focus on the positive and reject the negative.  This year is going to be great.

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