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Preface E arly childhood educators bring a wealth of experiences and knowledge to their learn- ing settings whether they teach in a public pre-K or Head Start classroom, a family child care home or a community-based center. As a profession, educators for cen- turies have benefited from sharing their best practices, ideas and resources. Peer-to-peer learning and professional growth happen when educators have genuine opportunities to meet and discuss common challenges. In Supporting Teachers as Learners: A Guide for Mentors and Coaches in Early Care and Education, Marcy Whitebook and Dan Bellm have produced a resource that guides early childhood educators through their mentoring partnerships. Whether this mentoring is for- mal or informal, spans years or weeks, the ideas and strategies developed by Marcy and Dan offer an invaluable framework. They provide unique plans, strategies and discussion ques- tions—tools that can be adapted to serve the needs of nearly any mentoring partnership. As one of our members, who has mentored fellow teachers both formally and informally for more than 15 years, said, “I wish I had this book when I first started mentoring!” At the AFT, we believe that educators are strongest when we stand together. For this reason, it is our honor to offer you Supporting Teachers as Learners. For far too long, the needs of our youngest learners and the educators who work with them have been neglected. Yet with each passing year, the evidence becomes undeniable as to how vital the years before kindergarten are in a child’s development and how far high- quality early learning opportunities can go in helping children succeed in the long run. Even when school budgets are austere, or just tight, we will continue to fight for the resources our youngest learners need to truly benefit from their early learning programs. Mentoring between early childhood educators—whether it is a veteran teacher generating new ways to present a familiar topic to her students or a new teacher developing classroom management strategies—will foster best practices and enable educators to meet their professional goals. Marcy and Dan understand that meaningful exchanges between educators facilitate the type of continual professional growth that allows them to share knowledge, challenges, ideas and support and to build on skills that ultimately lead to the high-quality early learning ev- ery child deserves. This simple premise is the foundation of Supporting Teachers as Learners. I extend my heartfelt thanks for all you do for our youngest learners and trust that this book will serve you well as you mentor, coach and learn from your fellow early childhood educators. Randi Weingarten, President American Federation of Teachers SUPPORTING TEACHERS AS LEARNERS 1