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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Introduction Imagine you’re heading into your work as an early childhood professional—what is on your mind? Are you feeling energized and excited, eager to see children, families, and coworkers? Are you ready to embark together on the day’s learning expedition? Or are other, less positive, ideas creeping into your thoughts? • Are you being pulled away from your focus on the children by a tide of paperwork, regulations, and assessments? • Are you in a stressful tug-of-war with time, trying to stay present in the moment with the children as you pack all your program’s required activities into your daily routine? • Do you find yourself getting bogged down in the role of “early childhood police officer,” with your attention grabbed by behavior problems and con- flict management? • Are you feeling isolated and alone in your work? Do you long for an opportunity to talk through your professional delights, struggles, and ongo- ing questions? Are you seeking a trusted colleague who understands and respects your point of view? • When you work with teachers to improve their practice, do you find that they simply want to be told what to do? That they’d rather not have to think through the teaching and learning process? If you’re like most early childhood professionals, we suspect you feel some combination of these thoughts and feelings on a regular basis. As a teacher, family child care provider, administrator, or teacher educator, you already know that it is a challenging time to be working in this field. You probably came into this profession with a vision of supporting children’s joyful learning and devel- opment. You, like us, feel the pulls and pressures of so many factors conspiring against that vision. With all of this in mind, let’s start with a couple of simple questions: COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL  1