A Visit to the Heartland

This Friday I drove to Bloomington-Normal, Illinois to visit Heartland Community College’s Early Childhood Education program. I was attending a Statewide Steering Committee meeting for the Heartland Equity & Inclusion Project (HEIP). This is an exciting project supported by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP).

The project itself is quite ambitious. One part of it includes re-designing the Early Childhood Education curriculum to incorporate practices which support CLAD or Cultural, Linguistic and Ability Diversity. I will share more about this meeting and the HEIP project in upcoming posts.

After the meeting, I took a tour of the Lab Center at Heartland and it was beautiful – new building, lovely set-up! I chatted a bit with the director and in the conversation she kept talking about “her” students. I wasn’t sure if she meant the children so I asked her and she looked surprised and said, “the college students, of course”!

This simple sentence meant a lot. To me, this reflects the kind of perspective that is important to a lab center; the director, teachers, and staff see the college students as “their” students and everyone in the building sees it as their responsibility to educate the students about what they do in the center for young children and families. In addition, many of the Master teachers were also adjunct faculty for the courses so they know the assignments and what it is like in the adult classroom – trying to bridge theory to practice.

As I continue to think about how to align lab centers and academic programs I think this may be a key factor – how do we see the students and our role in their educational and professional journey?

Something to think about as we start up a new week – Happy Monday!

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2 Responses to A Visit to the Heartland

  1. As retired professor of HWC, I remember the difficulty of finding quality sites for students to complete their work in their child development classes. For the last class I taught before retirement in the course, math and scence for the young child, I stumbled on a wonderful process by assigning groups to present a physical science activity. The class had the opportunity to present their acitivity to small groups in two classrooms at a site near the campus.

    Of course, the children were drawn to the various participatory activities, and the students were fascinated by the responses of the children. The primary advantage with the students happened after we returned to the college classroom: because we had a shared experience in the same environment, there were many opportunities to discuss the learnings they gained with the preschoolers. We, as a group, experienced critical thinking because of our common experience.

    • cnepstad says:

      Hi Arleen!
      Thank you for the comment. I think it is so important to think of appropriate ways for adult students to engage in the life of an early childhood setting throughout their coursework. It is a challenge, I think, to balance what is good for my adult students with what might be good for the centers I want to partner with. It sounds like you had a good relationship with the center and could work with them to create a learning experience that worked well for everyone.
      thanks again, Carrie

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