I’ve spent some time talking with individual faculty members, lab center directors, and teachers this past year within the District and across the country at various conferences. One of the questions I try to ask is, “what do you want to see in an Associate Degree Child Development graduate”? In other words, what should graduates know and be able to do?
The first thing people tend to say is that they want teacher candidates to be pleasant – to like young children and enjoy being around them. That seems to be the number one answer across the board. In the field, mainly from directors, I hear that they want teacher candidates to have stronger class management skills and skills in working with children who exhibit difficult behaviors. Another point that I hear from directors, but also from faculty is that students while attending our classes, and as graduates of the program, need to be more professional. They should be able to leave a respectful and practical voicemail message, write clear and professional e-mails, show up on time, dress appropriately, communicate clearly when they have questions about an assignment, communicate clearly when they are talking about child development, interact respectfully with each other and with instructors in the classroom and interact respectfully while out in the field – these kinds of things.
What I also hear from faculty and others is that students need to be aware that there is a certain Early Childhood disposition that is favorable for professionals in the field and that they should be able to assess themselves in terms of whether or not they are a good fit with the field.
At our HWC program meetings and Advisory Council meetings and also in some of the District-wide Curriculum Committee meetings I have been talking a bit with colleagues about the specific behaviors, attitudes, dispositions that we want to cultivate in our students. What should we talk about in terms of attitudes? What specific behaviors are we looking for in our students over time?
After looking at my notes from all of these meetings and after thinking about what it is we really want to see in our students and graduates, I put together the following:
Do you CARE?
We have been talking about making things simpler, clearer, more tangible. I think choosing specific attributes to focus on across the curriculum, something the students hear over and over again in different shapes and forms, can really be effective in helping them to recognize the kinds of attitudes and dispositions that are expected in an early childhood professional.
I showed this to my classes a couple of weeks ago and the students really liked it. One student said she would proudly wear something like that on a t-shirt! Others said it was easy to remember and so they could keep it in mind longer. Some instructors said they could really get behind something like this and build learning experiences in the classroom to support the development of these dispositions in students.
One Advisory Council member said she liked it, but that we would need to make it very clear to students what each piece looked like. For example, what does “being curious” look like in an early childhood professional? I think this is good advice. If we, as a community, decide to emphasize something like this, we need to come up with images of what this looks life in real life.
What do you think about the “Do you CARE” model? Does it work for you? Is it something you could use?