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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Introduction Learning to Articulate a Philosophy of Education A third challenge facing teachers is their need for a deep understanding of how children learn. In order to teach children effectively, teachers need to have a philosophical foundation for their work; however, many early child- hood educators face a challenge when it comes to clearly articulating their field’s practices and principles. Even if they instinctively understand it, many teachers struggle to explain their rationale for specific actions, envi- ronmental design, and other choices in the learning environment. As professors of current and future early childhood educators, we have seen our students record good observations of children’s behavior. How- ever, many of the same students have difficulty connecting their theoretical knowledge with the observations they witness in a classroom. It seems that many early childhood teachers have difficulty bringing a critical-thinking perspective into their work with young children—and this is not for their lack of good intentions! Today more than ever, professionals in ECE need to be the voice of chil- dren and speak up on behalf of children’s rights. They must be able to make critical decisions based on strong knowledge of theory and research-based practices, and they need a solid foundation that allows them to do so. As ECE professionals, we see the need for teachers to practice intentionally connecting theories with real-life stories and real children. In our experi- ence, ECE students’ ability to understand and respond to children’s needs and interests, and thus support their learning, is based on a strong theoret- ical foundation and reflective practice. Moving from Theory to Practice Many of our ECE students report that they have a good grasp of how chil- dren grow and learn. However, when they begin student teaching, many also admit that their theoretical foundation is not enough to facilitate children’s growth in a significant or comprehensive way. It is not easy to thoroughly understand a theory that was introduced during ECE Child Development 101 along with multiple new and unfamiliar concepts. It is difficult to remember these theories without relevant review, even when students know they are important. And the theories are often introduced in a dry, isolated manner without concrete examples of real children. This approach makes it hard to transition from a theoretical to a practical appli- cation. It is problematic to try to comprehend, internalize, and apply the- ories if teachers have not clearly seen them first. We need to move toward a deep understanding and thoughtful analysis of theories. Then teachers can COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL 3