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-
• 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