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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Foreword Sophistication. That is the word that comes to mind when I think about all that needs to happen in order for young children to be prepared for school and life. Whether it is scaffolding language or balancing early learning standards and de- velopmentally appropriate practice, using outdoor play to teach science concepts or charting kindergartners’ color preferences to help them understand mathemat- ics applications, these are all examples of what takes place in high-quality early learning environments. At the heart of these environments are early childhood educators—teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals, and family child care home providers. While each of them may have taken a different path to arrive in the early education field, one thing is the same—children, families, communities, and the country are counting on them to deliver on the promise of high-quality early learning. We have made significant progress in understanding what early childhood educa- tors should know and be able to do. We now have a sharper focus on professional preparation systems (including higher education), and increased public financial investments are being made in early learning. Despite all of this, the field has not yet demanded that we take the next step: to create a professional field of practice. In this, Stacie Goffin’s latest book, she challenges early childhood educators not to wait for pressure from the outside, but instead to find the courage and intentional- ity to be creators of their own destiny. Among other systems-building strategies, Stacie asks us to contemplate our exist- ing mental models, as they are often deeply embedded and might be obstructing our progress. She encourages us to engage in personal reflection and initiate or participate in conversations with the intent to develop a shared understanding and evolved direction. She reminds us that moving this boulder will take both a personal and collective commitment, and that the action required must come from inside the field. She is right. For far too long we have approached this conversation from a deficit-based mod- el: we have been too timid, too worried about the unintended consequences, too | xiii | COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL