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2 Introduction COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL • What do you deserve to feel as you head into work each day? • What would make you feel more successful and joyful in your work? Taking a Stand for Reflective Teaching We believe that reflective teaching stems from a deep respect for the complexity of teaching and learning. Reflective early childhood teachers are intentional and thoughtful about their beliefs and practices, and they continuously review and analyze their observations and experiences with young children. They use their reflections in and out of the classroom to take actions that steadily improve their professional teaching practice. Reflective early childhood teacher educators, coaches, mentors, and administrators engage in a parallel process when they study observations of children alongside teachers and give careful consideration to teachers’ thinking and learning. Reflective teaching is hardly a new concept. A century ago, progressive edu- cator John Dewey (1910) wrote about the importance of reflection in the teach- ing and learning process. For Dewey, reflection was a way for teachers to reorga- nize their thinking, to look at all sides of a situation, and to avoid the impulse to keep doing the same old things in the same old ways. Like Dewey, we see reflection as a key component of responsive, deeply child-centered teaching. Because each child and each teaching situation is unique, effective teachers must continuously reflect on their reactions to every- thing that happens in the classroom. No single set of strategies or techniques can work for all teachers, with all children, or in all circumstances. Instead, teaching requires a mind-set of constant, sensitive, skillful, and reflective decision making, both in and out of the action of the classroom. Teachers need and deserve time and guidance to support this process. So what does it mean to be a reflective early childhood professional in today’s world? The standards and accountability movement that swept over the entire US educational system during the last decade has now taken solid hold in the early childhood community. Program administrators feel pressure to demonstrate accountability to rising standards by adopting teacher-proof curricula. Teachers resort to one-size-fits-all teaching techniques in order to comply with regulations and mandates. Quality Rating Improvement Systems (QRIS) are adding more high-stakes assessment tools, but teachers are rarely guided to use these tools as resources for self-reflection. The trend toward more standardization without daily support systems for teachers directly threatens reflective teaching practices. Even more, prescriptive, mechanical teaching approaches start to drain the joy and passion from working with COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL